Best cheap phones in the US for 2018

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Trying to find the best cheap phone, especially in the US, is a herculean task in 2018, as carriers want to lock everyone into contracts - even at budget prices.

That's why we've deployed our knowledge of the best phones under $300 and tested hundreds of cheap phones to rank the best devices. Unlocked, contract-free and SIM-free phones are included in the top ten.

The mobile devices on this list certainly won’t be the very best phones in the US, so you won't find the high-end iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus or Google Pixel 2 XL here. 

But every cheap phone here should be just fine for casual use by anyone looking to save some cash on a discounted iOS 11 or Android Oreo device. 

1. Moto G5S Plus

Hands down, the best affordable phone out there

Weight: 168g | Dimensions: 153.5 x 76.2 x 8.0mm (up to 9.5mm at camera bump) | OS: Android 7.1 (Android Oreo incoming) | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Chip: Snapdragon 625 | RAM: 3/4GB options | Storage: 32/64GB w/ microSD support | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: Dual 13MP lenses | Front camera: 8MP

Looks and feels like a top-tier phone
Solid value
No NFC or MotoMods support
Camera could be better

The Moto G5S Plus is the best cheap phone you can buy right now mostly because it doesn't look or feel like a budget phone. It has a full-metal build, a 5.5-inch Full HD screen, a fingerprint sensor, quick charging and a hearty amount of internal storage in addition to a microSD card reader for expansion down the line.

Supported by all international and US carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, the souped-up G5S Plus runs on Android Nougat, though will soon feature Android 8.0 Oreo.

Inside, it boasts a Snapdragon 625 CPU, and while it's not going to be blowing away the benchmarks, it's powerful enough to play most games and multitask with ease. The only features that the more expensive Moto Z2 Force has that you’ll really be missing are a better camera, VR capabilities and MotoMods. Most people will do just fine with this phone, and it is less than a third of the cost of Motorola's flagship.

We thought that the G5 Plus on Amazon for just $239 was a good deal. But since we've seen the upgraded G5S Plus for a similar, if not slightly better price, you'd best check this one out instead.

Read the full review: Moto G5S Plus

2. Asus ZenFone V

The best value for Verizon customers

Weight: 147g | Dimensions: 146 x 72.6 x 7.6mm | OS: Android Nougat | Screen size: 5.2-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | CPU: Snapdragon 820 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB w/ microSD | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 23MP | Front camera: 8MP

Impossibly good value
Sharp AMOLED display
Verizon exclusive
Questionable durability

The Asus ZenFone V is a budget beast that deserves to fly but is chained down by Verizon exclusivity. Even so, this phone would still feel like a reasonable deal at $400, but it’s only $240.

There’s some much going right for this phone, making it easy to forget about some of the nitpicky detractors. The screen, the camera, the powerful internals and the simple but classy design pull this phone together in a great way, and tacking a $240 price tag on the box makes it a no-brainer. 

Unfortunately, tacking Verizon on the box limits who can buy this phone, but for Verizon customers or those looking for a great budget phone worth switching carriers for, the Asus ZenFone V is worthy. 

Read the full review: Asus ZenFone V

iPhone SE

3. iPhone SE

iOS on an incredible budget

Weight: 113g | Dimensions: 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 4-inch | Resolution: 1,136 x 640 | CPU: A9 processor | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32/1128GB | Battery: 1,624mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Unrivaled build quality
Impressively powerful for the price
Might be too small for some

Apple's return to the four-inch form factor is faithful to the iPhone 5S, but packs a serious punch in the performance department, bringing specs that put in on par with the iPhone 6S.

The fact that you can get this smartphone for under $300 makes it an absolute steal if you're a loyal iOS user. Sure, it doesn't come with all of the bells and whistles of a brand new iPhone 8 or iPhone X, but complete with iOS 11, it still holds up well.

Read the full review: iPhone SE

4. Honor 7X

18:9 aspect ratio comes to the mid-range

Weight: 165g | Dimensions: 156.5 x 75.3 x 7.6mm | OS: Android Nougat / EMUI 5.1 | Screen size: 5.93-inch | Resolution: 2,160 x 1,080 | CPU: Kirin 659 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB w/ microSD | Battery: 3,340mAh | Rear camera: 16MP + 2MP | Front camera: 8MP

Vibrant display
Very digestible price
Performance sometimes stutters
Can be slow to charge

The Honor 7X gets the title for offering a flagship level of design quality for such a low price. For $199, you'll nab a phone with a large 18:9 aspect ratio display, enough power to run pretty much anything on the Google Play Store, and dual rear lens cameras to take photos with greater depth of field.

We typically don't expect much from phones below the $200 price mark, but 2017 and now 2018 has really made us rethink this. While options higher up on this list represent a better value, as well as a blending of hardware and software that will simply appeal to more people, the Honor 7X is the company's best stab yet at a device that will captivate the mainstream.

Read the full review: Honor 7X

5. ZTE Blade V8 Pro

One of ZTE's best is also one of its most affordable

Weight: 185g | Dimensions: 155 x 76 x 9.1mm | OS: Android Marshmallow | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | CPU: Snapdragon 625 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB w/ microSD | Battery: 3,140mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 13MP | Front camera: 8MP

Awesome value
Fully featured, much like a flagship
Not the latest version of Android
Bad bottom-facing speaker

At its core, the Blade V8 Pro offers a lot for the money. It doesn’t wow when compared to flagship but if all you want is a phone to do the basics, you’ll be happy with the Blade. ZTE did a great job balancing price, performance and features.

After using the ZTE Blade V8 Pro for a month, we were impressed at just how little we missed from a flagship phone. Sure, you don’t get the multitasking performance of more powerful smartphones but for a majority of tasks, the Blade V8 Pro is perfectly adequate.

The ZTE Blade V8 Pro is an excellent smartphone for the price. Its bargain bin price gets you good battery life, decent dual-rear cameras and a near-stock Android experience. If you’re okay with having an older version of Android, the Blade V8 Pro is among the smartest choices if you're in need of a budget smartphone. 

Read the full review: ZTE Blade V8 Pro

6. Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom

A lot of phone for the money

Weight: 170g | Dimensions: 154.3 x 77 x 7.9mm | OS: Android Marshmallow | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | CPU: Snapdragon 625 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: two cameras, each 12MP | Front camera: 13MP

Killer value
Tremendous battery life
ZenUI not ideal for some
Camera not best-in-class

I’m surprised by the Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom. While I was fairly impressed with its specs and the much-improved design over the original Asus Zenfone Zoom, its direct predecessor, I wasn’t completely sold. That’s mostly because I didn’t know how much it would cost. 

Not only is it cheaper and far better than the Zenfone Zoom, it’s one of the best mid-tier options available. Asus’ ZenUI has improved to the point where it’s no longer a red flag for most users and the value here in terms of spec and design is tough to beat. 

While not perfect in its execution, it’s full of crowd-pleasing features and rocks a pleasing design that defies its price point, coming together as a smart buy for just about anyone.  

Read the full review: Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom

7. Moto E4

Who knew the low-end could be so good?

Dimensions: 144.7 x 72.3 x 9.3mm | OS: Android 7.1.1 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 1,280 x 720 | CPU: 1.3GHz quad-core | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB with microSD storage | Battery: 2,800mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

Slick design
Fingerprint sensor
Very affordable
Weak performance
Isn't all-metal in some markets

If you're looking for a truly affordable device that doesn't sacrifice too much to meet an attractive price tag, the Moto E4 is still a good option you could take a look at. We particularly liked the slick design, Android Nougat software, fingerprint sensor and the general value of the phone.

There's still the issue of it only having 16GB of storage and the performance isn't fantastic, but if you can get over those issues the Moto E4 will be a great phone for you.

Read the full review: Moto E4

8. Honor 6X

A whole lot of features for not a lot of cash

Weight: 162g | Dimensions: 150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2mm | OS: Android Nougat | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | CPU: Kirin 655 octa-core | RAM: 3/4GB | Storage: 64GB with microSD storage | Battery: 3,340mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 2MP | Front camera: 8MP

Beautiful, bright display
Strong performance for the price
Questionable user interface

The Honor 6X builds upon the many successes of the 5X: it's an affordable phone that's packed full of features that make it one of the best values on the market.

While decidedly lacking that flagship feeling in the hand, in that it's not hefty or made up of premium materials, the 6X pleases if you can look past it. 

It has a bright, clear display that you can unlock with the rear fingerprint reader. The dual rear-facing cameras provide better results than most phones in its price range.

Honor has cemented itself as one of the world's best budget phone makers with the Honor 6X.

Read the full review: Honor 6X

9. Nokia 6

Premium doesn't have to come at a high cost

Weight: 169g | Dimensions: 154 x 75.8 x 7.8mm | OS: Android Nougat | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | CPU: Snapdragon 430 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB w/ microSD | Battery: 3.000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 8MP

Sturdy, minimalist design
Surprisingly good camera
Slow to charge
General battery performance is not great

If you can stretch to the quite reasonable price tag it’s the Nokia phone we’d recommend you go for, thanks to its large Full HD display, tidy performance and solid camera.

The only real negatives are that the phone isn’t as comfortable to hold as the rounded Nokia 5 and Moto G5 Plus, and we’d have liked the battery life to last a full day on a single charge more comfortably.

Overall then, the Nokia 6 is like a really good, affordable smartphone. It’s got a decent spec sheet and a great design, while the stock Android interface should mean it gets software updates promptly.

Read the full review: Nokia 6

10. LG Q6

Honey, I shrunk the LG G6

Weight: 149g | Dimensions: 142.5 x 69.3 x 8.1mm | OS: Android Nougat | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 2,160 x 1,080 | CPU: Snapdragon 435 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB w/ microSD | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Looks like the LG G6, in a good way
FullVision display is great for multimedia
No fingerprint sensor
Rear is scratch-prone

The LG Q6 is the midrange take on the company’s 2017 flagship smartphone, the LG G6. As you can see for yourself, much of the G6’s visual pizazz has made the transition to the more budget-friendly class intact. 

It features the familiar tall aspect ratio, a nearly bezel-free design, and commendable build quality that yields a smooth feeling in the hand. However, given its lower asking price, not every single one of the G6’s finer qualities makes an appearance. 

The plastic back, for example, is prone to scratching. You won't find a fingerprint sensor here – a feature served up by the sub-$100 Moto E4. Predictably, the Q6’s internal specs are decidedly ho-hum and don’t pack adequate muscle to hustle through some of the more demanding 3D games available on the Google Play Store.

The budget smartphone arena is competitive as ever and the Q6's downsides are hard to forgive. But, as it's available for as low as $239 in the US with Amazon supported ads, you're still getting a whole lot of phone for the cash.

Read the full review: LG Q6

What are the best smartphones you can buy right now? Watch the video below to see our top 5.