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The best smartphones under $400

With so many phones on the market, and with the gap between mid-range and high-end narrowing each year, finding the right phone for you is not an easy task. Sure, if you’ve got $1000 ready to go, getting the best of the best is not a difficult task; you can narrow your choice down to a handful of phones. However, when you’re on a bit of a budget, but are not aiming extremely low, the sprawling mid-range segment has so much to offer, that it can get confusing quickly.

What do you value the most in a phone? Long-lasting battery life? A great camera? Smooth performance? Perhaps a combination of the three? Whatever it is, you’re sure to find an affordable phone that checks most (if not all) of your boxes. To help you in this endeavor, we’ve compiled a list of the best phones under $400 that you can get right now!

Best phones under $400, a summarized list:

Google Pixel 3a

With the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, Google has delivered two superb mid-range phones! Looking at the overall picture, we can adamantly say that the only area where they scaled back is in their performance, as the Snapdragon 670 is a notable step down from the Snapdragon 845. Other than that, we don’t think the plastic designs are bad; the phones may not feature wireless charging, but in terms of look and feel, there doesn’t seem to be that much of a difference compared with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. If you’re willing to give up the more premium design of more expensive phones, the Pixel 3a at $399 is a great performer with a camera that seriously rivals flagships twice its asking price.

Moto G8 Plus

We’re all familiar with the Moto G line and its strengths and weaknesses. The specs of the Moto G8 Plus won’t amaze anyone but it’s a well-balanced phone that’s reliable and will serve you well for years. As with other phones on this list, the G8 Plus comes with a set of new cameras for your convenience and enjoyment. A 48MP main sensor alongside an ultra-wide camera, to be exact. 

The massive 4,000mAh battery comes with 18W Turbo Charging (fast charging is an underrated feature) and best of all, it costs way below $250. The Mogo G8 Plus is all-around a great deal.

Samsung Galaxy A51

The new Galaxy A51 is a big step up from the A50.  The phone is redesigned and now has Samsung’s Infinite-O display that was generally reserved for more premium devices. Another extra it gets from more expensive phones is the in-display fingerprint sensor, which in this phone is the optical one rather than the ultrasonic one that’s on the S20 series. 
Performance-wise, this phone isn’t the fastest around but at that price-point we can’t expect much. It does, however, have a nice set of cameras for a phone below $400. You get a 48MP main camera paired with an ultra-wide lens and a macro lens. But the surprises don’t end with the rear cameras, at the front there is a 32MP selfie shooter. Now that’s something you don’t see every day. The Galaxy A51 packs a lot for its price and makes for a great choice in that segment.

Honor 9X

The Honor 9X has a couple of things going for it. First, the striking design and second, the pop-up camera. While the Pixel 3A doesn’t have a notch as well, it does have pretty thick top bezels. With the Honor 9X, however, you get a FullView display and a motorized selfie shooter. That futuristic look is pretty important for some people so it’s worth mentioning.

The Kirin chip inside the 9X is slightly higher-clocked than its Snapdragon equivalent, which should give it a slight boost in performance. On top of that, the base version in the States comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which is plenty for the price. The camera hardware is on par with the rest of this lineup but if you’d get similar results in terms of image quality is another matter. Still, though, the Honor 9X is worth considering if you’re looking for a decent phone on the cheap.

Motorola One Action

Motorola has a wide range of phones under $400, so it’s no surprise that two of them made it on our list. Unlike the Moto G8 Plus, the One Action comes with a hole-punch display, which feels more 2020 than the notch, and a slightly faster system chip. As the phone’s name suggests, its focus is on action and more specifically, recording videos in a dynamic environment. 
The Motorola One Action uses its ultra-wide camera to shoot super-stable videos in landscape mode even when you’re holding the phone vertically. That makes it much easier to record videos while riding your skateboard or playing with your kids. A unique feature that would matter little to some but can be a game changer for others. 

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