Are you looking for a great smartphone to add to your wish list, or to your shopping list for someone you love? If so, you’ve probably realized that smartphone shopping, especially at an affordable price point, requires a lot of priority juggling. You want impressive technology, reliable software, and decent build quality, but all in a package that won’t break the bank in the (expensive) season of gift-giving and holiday party-hosting.
Luckily, it’s increasingly possible to get a great smartphone for a low price, particularly if you’re willing to go with something outside the lineup of the typical flagship releases, or even to pick a manufacturer that’s a newcomer to the smartphone scene. Read on for our pick of affordable smartphones that will make great gifts this holiday season.
1. Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3
The Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 starts at $179 and is the “first reversible smartphone.” (That means that you can hold it with either end facing up, even while taking a call.) The 4.7-inch smartphone is slim and compact, and features a 13MP f/2.0 rear-facing camera, plus an 8MP front-facing camera. It’s powered by the eight-core Qualcomm SnapDragon 615 processor and features 2GB of RAM, plus a 2,910mAh battery.
2. Asus ZenFone 2
The Asus ZenFone 2, which starts at $229, is a 5.5-inch smartphone that Asus claims has “a body that’s as small as that of a traditional 5-inch device,” which it achieved by reducing the bezel width. The phone is powered by a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor and features 4GB of dual-channel DDR3 RAM. It runs Android Lollipop, features a 13MP f/2.0 camera, and offers quick-charging capability to recharge the battery up to 60% capacity in 39 minutes.
3. Huawei P8 Lite
The Huawei P8 Lite starts at $249 and is a sleek but budget-friendly 5-inch smartphone. It’s powered by a 1.5GHz octa-core processor and packs a 2,200 mAh battery with an ultra power-saving mode to manage the phone’s battery life. The 13MP f/2.2 rear-facing camera is flat against the back of the device. The phone is dual SIM card capable, supports a microSD card up to 32GB, features 2GB of RAM, and runs Android 4.4.
4. LG G Stylo
The LG G Stylo starts at just $99 and is a great option for shoppers who prefer a prepaid phone. The super-sized 5.7-inch phone is powered by a 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, and features an 8MP rear-facing camera and 8GB of internal memory. You can use the phone on Boost Mobile, Sprint Prepaid, or Virgin Mobile, which enables you to pick which network gets the best reception in your area.
5. LG Nexus 5X
The LG-made Nexus 5X starts at $379 and is a great choice for Android purists. The 5.2-inch phone is powered by a hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor, and the phone features a 12.3MP rear-facing camera, plus the new Nexus Imprint fingerprint sensor to unlock your phone or to use Android Pay. The Nexus 5X runs Android Marshmallow, one of its major benefits, and it integrates a 2,700 mAh battery and a USB Type-C port for fast charging.
6. OnePlus 2
The OnePlus 2, the so-called “flagship killer” from a Chinese newcomer to the smartphone scene, starts at $329 and is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 3,300 mAh battery. It features 16 or 64GB of storage, and integrates a fingerprint sensor for unlocking your phone. The phone’s charging and data port is a USB Type-C port, and the phone can support dual SIM cards (but no microSD cards).
7. ZTE Axon Pro
The ZTE Axon Pro, which starts at $329, is another budget-friendly option from a Chinese manufacturer. The device features a sharp 5.5-inch display and runs Android Lollipop. It’s equipped with two rear-facing cameras, a 13MP camera and a 2MP camera, plus an 8MP front-facing camera. It offers a Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 3,000mAh battery.