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The Top 9 Budget Phones with Premium Specs

These phones cost less than $300 and pack some of the most wanted specs

Isabela Alzuguir
The Top 9 Budget Phones with Premium Specs© 2017 Versus

Smartphone launch events seem to be growing bigger and bigger, having become spectacles that further interweave technology and culture. All over the world, tech enthusiasts have surely heard of the latest major flagship phones; now, such objects of desire tend to cost serious money, and just because they may be way off your price range doesn't mean that a budget phone can't satisfy you!

Needless to say, budget phones aren't advertised the same way premium flagships are; as a result, you may feel a bit discouraged, not even knowing that there are exceptional models that fit your budget. Not to worry – we're here to set this misconception right by presenting nine outstanding Android phones under $300 and going over their key features.

Specs to consider when choosing a budget phone

With so many specs to consider – and sometimes, not really knowing what they mean –, picking a phone is not an easy task. At the end of our article, you'll find a chart with the key properties that we suggest you keep in mind while choosing, but first, we'll give a quick overview.

For starters, compare each phone's screen size and screen resolution; the former is really a matter of individual preference, as some people feel more comfortable with larger phones, while others want something easier to fit in their pockets. As for the latter, it shows the number of pixels that your phone's display is able to show both vertically and horizontally – so the higher screen resolution, the sharper the displayed images will be.

Speaking of images: these days, being able to take nice-looking photos with their smartphone is important to the vast majority of users, and the values for main camera megapixels and front camera megapixels suggest the quality of the photos you'll be able to take. It's important to have in mind other decisive specs that determine the quality of the camera module: the lens, type of sensor and its size, as well as pixel size. For a more in-depth explanation of smartphone photography, make sure to check out our article with the 9 best smartphone cameras; while no budget models are featured, it might give you more insight regarding mobile photography.

Moving on, RAM and total clock speed are crucial pointers of a smartphone's performance – once again, the bigger, the better. Make sure to also take a look at internal storage and battery power, which respectively indicate the internal space offered for apps, photos and other files you may want to keep on your phone, and the time needed between charging (I may sound repetitive, but you can guess: the more, the merrier).

How our top picks made the cut

We've established $300 as the maximum price after analyzing our users' requests, but we think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find options well under this limit. Having said that, you know we're always guided by data, and that we've set the following specs in the forefront:

  • Screen size
  • Screen resolution
  • Main camera megapixels
  • Front camera megapixels
  • RAM
  • Total clock speed
  • Internal storage
  • Battery power

All the phones listed have screens larger than 5 inches and HD resolution. They offer between 2GB and 4GB of RAM, which means that most apps will run smoothly. If you're into gaming, you should select the phones that have the highest RAM and highest total clock speed values; if you're more interested in photography, make sure to check out the camera specs. No matter what your interests are, you'll definitely find an affordable device in our selection of the top 9 budget phones.

Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC553KL)

1. Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC553KL)

2,574 points

Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC553KL)

The Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC553KL) is a phone for those who really value battery life – with 4100mAh of battery power, it's hard to imagine you would ever be in trouble with a dead phone or that you would have to carry portable chargers everywhere. The manufacturer is so confident about this robust battery, that it states that the Zenfone 3 Max (ZC553KL) can even be used as a power bank for, you know, those smartphones that keep dying when you need them the most...

Asides from having a potent battery, the model displays vivid images on its 5.5-inch IPS screen. The smartphone's main camera has 16MP, and a three-axis electronic image stabilizer will make your handheld videos much smoother. Oh, and don't be afraid of this phone's native OS (Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow), since it is upgradable to Android 7.1.1 Nougat. The Asus Zenfone 3 Max is available in four colors: sand gold, titanium gray, glacier silver and rose pink.

Nokia 6

2. Nokia 6

2,422 points

Nokia 6

Nokia 6 is a powerful and sturdy budget phone. Manufactured with seamless precision-milled aluminum, this phone has a Gorilla Glass display for extra resistance. The smartphone may be a good choice for music lovers, as its dual-speaker system with dedicated amplifier and Dolby Atmos certification focuses on deep bass and clarity of sound. Nokia 6 comes with Android 7.1.1 Nougat, and in different versions: one with 64GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM (shown here) and another with 32GB and 3GB of RAM. Powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 430 processor, the device has an X6 LTE modem with fast upload and download speeds and support for fast charging. Depending on the market, dual SIM options are available.

Huawei Honor 8 Lite

3. Huawei Honor 8 Lite

2,337 points

Huawei Honor 8 Lite

I don't exactly get what Huawei meant by stating that the Huawei Honor 8 Lite was "inspired by the mesmerizing scenes of the Antelope Canyon", but this phone is worth getting over the brand's pompous statement. With a brushed steel finish, this smartphone is available in white, gold, black and blue, but what makes it a great budget phone is not on the outside: the Honor 8 Lite is powered by the octa-core Kirin 655 chipset, designed with the big.LITTLE architecture – that means four cores run at 2.1GHz, and the four other cores at 1.7GHz, making it possible for your phone to respond more efficiently to both more demanding and less demanding tasks. Moreover, while its 3000mAh battery may initially not stand out among our other budget phone picks, it was developed with a power-saving system that could, according to Huawei, result in 93 hours of use (including music playback).

Huawei P10 Lite

4. Huawei P10 Lite

3,560 points

Huawei P10 Lite

Huawei's P10 Lite is another solid, affordable smartphone option offered by the Chinese manufacturer. Available in a stylish range of colors (platinum gold, graphite black, pearl white and sapphire blue), the phone was "inspired by the natural beauty of water" – a bit more straightforward than the Honor 8 Lite's "Antelope Canyon" roots – and features a hard-wearing double-sided curved glass display and a diamond-cut metal frame. The P10 Lite has a 3000mAh battery with fast-charging and power-saving features, and according to Huawei, a 10-minute charge is enough for two hours of video watching or equivalent energy-demanding activities.

The smartphone is powered by the Kirin 658 mobile processor (4 x 2.1GHz & 4 x 1.7GHz) and by the brand's i5 co-processor, aimed at reducing power consumption. Huawei P10 Lite offers 32GB of internal storage (64GB available only in Hong Kong), and its RAM varies between 3GB and 4GB, depending on your region.

Asus Zenfone Zoom

5. Asus Zenfone Zoom

2,802 points

Asus Zenfone Zoom

Even though it was released a couple of years ago, the Asus Zenfone Zoom remains a budget smartphone that you shouldn't turn your nose up at. With 3x optical zoom, optical image stabilization (which the manufacturer even calls  "DSLR-like") and a 10-element main lens, this phone is definitely a strong option for budget-friendly mobile photography. Furthermore, the Asus Zenfone Zoom is protected by Gorilla Glass 4, and its back is made of premium leather, giving it a unique feel which may please users – unless you're, let's say, vegan… Then you've most likely already crossed this one off your list, but you'll still have plenty of budget phones to choose from.

Panasonic Eluga Note

6. Panasonic Eluga Note

1,736 points

Panasonic Eluga Note

The Panasonic Eluga Note is a good option for smartphone photography on a budget. It features a 16GB main camera with triple-LED flash, and its IPS full HD display is sure to make it pleasant to go through your photos. With a 1.3GHz octa-core processor, 32GB of internal storage, 3GB of RAM and a 3000mAh battery that should last for a whole day, you'll likely have a smooth experience with this phone. The downside is that it runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and as of yet, it's not upgradeable.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime

7. Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime

2,713 points

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime is a powerful budget phone with good overall performance and some interesting features. Available in 32GB and 16GB versions (dual SIM in selected markets), this phone has a long-lasting 3300mAh battery, is upgradable to Android 7.0 Nougat, and runs on an octa-core 1.6GHz processor. The Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime may be especially interesting for the selfie addicts out there, as the smartphone's 8MP front camera has a wide selfie function, which lets you fit more into the shot (so you can say "no" to selfie sticks!).

Samsung Galaxy J5 Pro

8. Samsung Galaxy J5 Pro

2,728 points

Samsung Galaxy J5 Pro

With its full metal finish and available in gold and black, the Samsung Galaxy J5 Pro could be the way to go if you're looking for a budget phone with elegant design. A downside may be the fact that it has the lowest resolution among our picks, but other features, such as the 1.6GHz octa-core Exynos 7870 chipset and the 13MP rear and front cameras, could make up for it. The phone also offers a version with 16GB of internal storage, but since it can be expanded up to 256GB with a microSD card, storage shouldn't be a problem, whichever version one has.

Lenovo Moto G5 Plus

9. Lenovo Moto G5 Plus

2,957 points

Lenovo Moto G5 Plus

If you, like me, are really clumsy and has lost a couple phones due to liquid spillage, you may leave your troubles (well, at least this one) behind with the Lenovo Moto G5 Plus. You can find this splash-resistant phone in two versions: 64GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM, or 32GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM. The Moto G5 Plus runs on Android 7.0 Nougat, with an octa-core 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor for a smooth user experience. Another interesting feature is the TurboPower charging system, which promises up to six hours of battery life in 15 minutes.

Top 9 budget phones: specs overview

screen sizeresolutionmegapixelsfront camera megapixelsRAMtotal clock speedinternal storagebattery power
Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC553KL)5.5"1080 x 1920px16MP8MP4GB8 x 1.4GHz32GB4100mAh
Nokia 65.5"1080 x 1920px16MP8MP4GB8 x 1.2GHz64GB3000mAh
Huawei Honor 8 Lite5.2"1080 x 1920px12MP8MP3GB4 x 2.1 & 4 x 1.7GHz16GB3000mAh
Huawei P10 Lite5.2"1080 x 1920px12MP8MP4GB4 x 2.1 & 4 x 1.7GHz32GB3000mAh
Asus Zenfone Zoom5.5"1080 x 1920px13MP5MP4GB4 x 2.3GHz64GB3000mAh
Panasonic Eluga Note5.5"1080 x 1920px16MP5MP3GB8 x 1.3GHz32GB3000mAh
Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime5.5"1080 x 1920px13MP8MP3GB8 x 1.6GHz32GB3300mAh
Samsung Galaxy J5 Pro5.2"720 x 1280px13MP13MP2GB8 x 1.6GHz32GB3000mAh
Lenovo Moto G5 Plus5.2"1080 x 1920px13MP12MP3GB8 x 2GHz64GB3000mAh


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