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June 30, 2018

Best Android Phones Under $300 in 2018

by John_A

  • Best overall
  • Best for navel-gazing
  • Best for stock Android

Best overall

Moto G6

moto-g6-review-24.jpg?itok=sh7G-60t

See at Amazon

Motorola’s Moto G series just keeps getting better, and this year’s Moto G6 is as good as it gets for under $300. The 5.7-inch 18:9 display is as vibrant as it is modern, and the combination of 3GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage, and a Snapdragon 450 processor will keep things running smoothly.

The benefits don’t stop at the specs, though. The Moto G6 has great build quality with metal and glass, along with a water-repellent coating to protect it in the rain — but don’t go dunking the phone in your pool, it’s not IP-rated. There’s a quick fingerprint sensor under the display, and a flashy dual camera array on the back. On the software side of things, you get a clean build of Android 8.0 Oreo, along with Moto Actions and Moto Display for quick access to convenient features.

Bottom line: Even though it’s priced well below the $300 limit, the Moto G6 is the most well-rounded phone in its category.

One more thing: The Moto G6 is compatible with all four major U.S. carriers.

Why the Moto G6 is the best

In our review of the Moto G6, we praised it for its build quality, excellent main camera, and good battery life. It suffers from the occasional software hiccup and doesn’t feature NFC, but overall it’s hard to beat its overall value and performance.

The Moto G6 has just about everything you could ask of a phone at this price. The software is clean yet clever with the addition of Moto Actions and Moto Display, and it’s quick to recharge with Motorola’s TurboPower charging. The Prime Exclusive version comes loaded with Amazon software, of course, but for an extra $15, you can buy the Moto G6 directly from Motorola without any bloat.

Best for navel-gazing

Huawei P20 Lite

huawei-p20-lite.png?itok=q1hNjMFQ

See at Amazon

If you like a little pizazz, the Huawei P20 Lite is a great alternative to the Moto G6. Its 19:9 display is big and vibrant, with a notch up top for better or worse, and the flashy finish is eye-catching, to say the least. The Kirin 659 chipset is speedy and powerful, and the 3000mAh battery provides excellent longevity. Stock Android purists may not love its EMUI software, but it’s at least running on top of Android 8.0 Oreo.

Bottom line: The EMUI software isn’t for everyone, but at $299.99, the Huawei P20 Lite is a terrific phone with good camera performance, great battery life, and an excellent modern design.

One more thing: The P20 Lite is not compatible with the major CDMA networks in the U.S.

Best for stock Android

Nokia 6.1

nokia-6-review.jpg?itok=iaVForzU

See at Amazon

At $269, the Nokia 6.1 (otherwise known as the 2018 Nokia 6) is the best way to get stock Android for cheap. It’s part of Nokia’s Android One lineup, combining unadulterated stock Android with an aluminum unibody design that feels far more premium than its price tag would have you believe. The 5.5-inch 1080p LCD display looks fantastic, and it has one of the better cameras in its segment. On top of that, Nokia releases monthly security updates to keep its phones protected — a rarity for low-cost phones.

Bottom line: You’d be hard-pressed to find a better-made phone at this price point, and the regular software updates are icing on the cake.

One more thing: The Nokia 6.1 ships with Android 8.0 Oreo, not 8.1.

Conclusion

The Moto G6 and Nokia 6.1 are very close competitors, but the Moto G6 pulls ahead with its 18:9 display, dual cameras, Moto Actions, and most importantly, its support for all four major U.S. carriers. The Nokia 6.1 is still a great option for those in search of the cleanest possible version of Android, while the P20 Lite wins out in fashion and form.

Best overall

Moto G6

moto-g6-review-24.jpg?itok=sh7G-60t

See at Amazon

Motorola’s Moto G series just keeps getting better, and this year’s Moto G6 is as good as it gets for under $300. The 5.7-inch 18:9 display is as vibrant as it is modern, and the combination of 3GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage, and a Snapdragon 450 processor will keep things running smoothly.

The benefits don’t stop at the specs, though. The Moto G6 has great build quality with metal and glass, along with a water-repellent coating to protect it in the rain — but don’t go dunking the phone in your pool, it’s not IP-rated. There’s a quick fingerprint sensor below the display, and a dual flashy camera array on the back. On the software side of things, you get a clean build of Android 8.0 Oreo, along with Moto Actions and Moto Display for quick access to convenient features.

Bottom line: Even though it’s priced well below the $300 limit, the Moto G6 is the most well-rounded phone in its category.

One more thing: The Moto G6 is compatible with all four major U.S. carriers.

Update June 2018: Replaced the Moto G5S Plus with the Moto G6, and the Honor 7X with the Huawei P20 Lite.

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