The best smartphones you can buy today for under $200

Update: As of June 2021
The best smartphones you can buy today for under $200

What is the best smartphone under $200 in the US? If you were reading this sitting in Europe or Asia, chances are that most of the best devices in this price segment will come from the likes of Xiaomi, Realme, and Motorola. Things, however, are not the same in the United States. With most Chinese brands having no official presence here, the list of best smartphones under $200 in the US look completely different from our lists for Europe.

Anyway, if you happen to be in a hurry and want a no-nonsense, quick answer to the said question, here's our pick  for the best smartphone under $200:

The best smartphone for under $200 is...

Moto G Power 2021
Get the Motorola Moto G Power (2021) for the most bang for your buck! / © Motorola

...the Motorola Moto G Power (2021)!  

Announced fairly recently, the Moto G Power (2021) takes the crown for the best smartphone under $200 for folks in the US. The Moto G Power (2021) faced stiff competition from its newer compatriot from the G series – the Moto G Play (2021). Overall, however, we felt that the (slightly) older Moto G Power offers you more bang for your bucks.  

The Moto G Power comes powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 SoC (as opposed to the less powerful SD 460 chip on the Moto G Play). Both these chips are based on an 11nm manufacturing process, but the SD662 is clocked higher and, therefore, on paper, offer slightly better performance. 

The Moto G Power (2021) also wins the battle for having more cameras (triple) compared to the dual-camera setup on the Moto G Play. The former also gets a 48MP sensor compared to the 12MP camera on the G Play. The front camera resolution is also higher on the Moto G Power (8MP as opposed to 5MP). 

As far as the battery is concerned - both the devices are event matched here thanks to the massive 5,000mAh battery. However, the Moto G Power again takes the crown here because it also supports 15W fast charging while the G Play is restricted to 10W.

Needless to say, as of June 2021, the Moto G Power (2021) tops our list and is easily our choice for the best smartphone under $200. And right now, it is going for as little as $129.99 on BestBuy!

 In case you wish to take a look at other smartphones that are worth considering, well, continue reading!

Table of Contents

  1. Best smartphone under $200
  2. What to expect from sub-€200 smartphones
    1. Features
    2. Limitations
  3. Best smartphones under $200: Other contenders
    1. OnePlus Nord N100
    2. Nokia 5.4
    3. Samsung Galaxy A12
    4. Motorola Moto G Fast
    5. Nokia G10
  4. How do we review smartphones?
  5. Alternatives to purchasing a new smartphone
  6. Upcoming bargains and sales dates
  7. Other "Best Of" lists

What to expect from sub-$200 smartphones

Right of the bat, I would like to preface by saying that most of the smartphones you see in the list here will be considered absolute rip-offs if you are reading this sitting in any other part of the globe. But hey, this is how things are in the US., and at least for the time being, this is what you need to contend with. Below is the list of features and characteristics you will generally see across smartphones in the $150 to $220 price segment in the U.S.

Features

  • Large capacity batteries with long battery life
  • Dual and triple (and sometimes quad) rear cameras 
  • Smooth gaming performance in low and medium graphics settings
  • Dual-SIM support on some models

Limitations

  • Lower performance
  • No 5G support
  • Low RAM and storage space
  • Plastic back instead of glass
  • Older network standards (Wi-Fi 5 or missing NFC)
  • Slower/no fast charging support and/or lack of wireless charging support
  • Poor image quality of the cameras, especially in low-light conditions

As a rule, we recommend sub-$200 smartphones for users who want to enjoy a certain range of features, but do not expect the best quality or experience. There is also a certain degree of carefree use when it comes to cheaper models since you won't really feel the pinch in the event of damage or losing the handset. Hence, if you want to make do without a protective cover or purchasing insurance against display damage, you are more than welcome to check out an inexpensive smartphone.

Best smartphones under $200: Other contenders

Now that you know what the best smartphone under $200 is and what to expect from devices sold in this segment, let us take a look at some of the other handsets you should definitely be considering if you're itching to buy a new sub-$200 smartphone in the next few weeks.

OnePlus Nord N100: For 90Hz refresh rate and fast charging

OnePlus Nord N100
The OnePlus Nord 100 is the most affordable OnePlus phone ver! / © OnePlus

OnePlus is perhaps the only Chinese smartphone brand that has managed to make some inroads into the US smartphone space. The company, earlier this year, bought its most affordable model from its repertoire to the US in the form of the OnePlus Nord N100, and as we draft this article, it is being sold for $179.99.

What you get for this sub-$200 price tag is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 SoC, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage with memory expansion. The display measures 6.52-inches across and happens to be an HD+ IPS LCD panel with support for 90Hz refresh rate as well as 18W fast charging! 

The triple camera setup on the OnePlus Nord N100 includes a 13MP main camera, a 2MP macro camera, and another 2MP camera for bokeh. The front-facing camera uses an 8MP sensor. The OnePlus Nord N100 runs OxygenOS 10, which is based on Android 10. It is also likely to get the official nod for Android 11.

Overall, we think the OnePlus Nord N100 makes for a great sub-$200 smartphone in the US.

Nokia 5.4: Good value!

NextPit Nokia 5 4 back
We reviewed the European variant of the Nokia 5.4 and did not come out impressed / © NextPit

Released earlier this year, the Nokia 5.4 is an updated version of the Nokia 5.3 from last year. The phone came to the US shortly after it was announced for the European market. While we have reviewed the Nokia 5.4, please do note that our review was written by a European editor and his views reflect how the device is perceived in Europe. Since the market dynamics of the US is different, the Nokia 5.4 does come out to be a decent offering afterall, in Yankeeland.

The Nokia 5.4 comes powered by the same Snapdragon 662 SoC used in our overall winner - the Moto G Power (2021). The phone also ships with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage which is actually more than what the Moto G Power (2021) offers. However, its current price of $199 is applicable for a short period of time, and chances are it could go back to its regular price of $249 soon. If the device remains at $199, we would have no qualms in replacing the Moto G Power (2021) with the Nokia 5.4 and make it the best smartphone under $200 at a later date.

Other specs of the phone include a 6.39-inch HD+ display, support for Dual SIM cards, and a quad-camera setup composing of a 48MP primary camera, a 5MP macro camera, and twin 2MP macro and ultrawide cameras. The phone also gets a 16MP selfie camera at the front. The Nokia 5.4 also runs Android 10 at launch and is likely to receive the official nod to Android 11.

Samsung Galaxy A12: If you can't think beyond Samsung

Samsung also has decent offerings in the sub-$200 price segment, and the one device that caught our attention is the fairly new Samsung Galaxy A12. This device was announced in November 2020 and gets the Mediatek MT6765 Helio P35 chipset. This is a 12nm SoC and offers acceptable performance for a device in this price segment. In the US, the Samsung Galaxy A12 is only offered in a single variant that offers 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. You do get a microSD card slot for memory expansion. Unlike most other competing devices, the Galaxy A12 misses out on dual SIM capability.

The display used by the Samsung Galaxy A12 happens to a PLS TFT panel that supports HD+ resolution. The phone gets quad rear cameras with a 16MP primary sensor, a secondary 5MP sensor, and twin 2MP sensors. The front-facing camera is housed within a V notch and uses an 8MP sensor. The Samsung Galaxy A12 runs Android 12 right now but will soon be updated to Android 12.

Motorola Moto G Fast

Moto G Fast
Get the Moto G Fast if you prefer a (relatively) compact alternative to the Moto G Power/ © Motorola

While we chose Moto G Power (2021) as our overall winner, it is quite a large and hefty device. If you want a phone with similar capabilities but also require it to be a tad easier to hold, the Moto G Fast might be a great option for you. The Moto G Fast offers nearly the same screen size (6.4-inches) while being 20g lighter than the Moto G Power at just 189g. Let us take a look at the rest of the specs.

This phone comes powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC and offers 32GB of storage, and has 3GB of RAM.  The phone also gets a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner as well. The camera setup includes a 16MP primary camera, an 8MP ultrawide camera, and a 2MP macro camera.

The reduction in size also means you do have to contend with shorter battery life. But hey, the 4,000 mAh battery is more than capable of pulling through more than one day of normal use. As of now, the phone runs Android 10. Since the phone is quite new, an Android 11 update should be on the way soon.

Nokia G10: Has Android 11!

Nokia G10
Hey, we have another Nokia on the list! / © Nokia

Did not quite like the Nokia 5.4 you saw earlier in this list and looking for an alternative model from Nokia? We're guessing you might like ur next suggestion from Nokia - the just-launched Nokia G10.  This device was announced just a few weeks ago and is on sale in the US right now for just $ 149.99.

The Nokia G10 gets the entry-level MediaTek Helio G25 SoC and offers 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage with memory expansion. The device supports dual SIM cards as well. The Nokia G10 is a large phone with a 6.5-inch HD+ LCD panel. The camera setup on the device includes a 13MP primary rear camera and twin 2MP sensors for macro shots and depth sensing. The front-facing camera gets an 8MP sensor. The battery capacity is 5050 mAh - however - there is no support for fast charging. 

One of the reasons for the Nokia G10 to make it to this list was because it runs Android 11 -  the newest version of Android.

How do we review smartphones?

And while we are on the topic of smartphones, just how exactly does NextPit review new smartphones? As an independent news magazine, manufacturers send us new smartphones or respond to our inquiries by providing review units. These are always loaners that are sent back by our editorial team once the review is over, but if the manufacturers do not ask for them, they remain in our office as permanent loans.

Our reviewers (regardless of whether they are employed or freelance) will use the review units just like how the average smartphone user would in everyday life. We make sure that they are our new daily driver handset, inserting our personal SIM card and go around capturing test shots with the camera. Hence as a team, we have managed to agree on the different review criteria that help us with our smartphone "Best Of" lists. To this end, we discussed in advance just which candidates are as well as the preferences of the individual editors.

Only devices that we have already reviewed will receive a clear recommendation. For the sake of fairness, alternatives are also mentioned as we try to keep our "Best Of" lists constantly updated while including any new or missing devices. Do you have any questions about our "Best Of" lists or our review guidelines? Feel free to write in any questions or suggestions that you might have in the comments section.

Alternatives to purchasing a new smartphone

Refurbished, Sale units, and used smartphones

If removing the protective film for the first time on your new device does not cause you to jump for joy, you can pick up more expensive smartphones from the second-hand or refurbished market. It is particularly advisable to use devices that carry a refurbished guarantee. These are used smartphones that have been checked and refurbished by reputable companies to ensure that they are in tip-top condition. Refurbished devices are particularly exciting to check out when they come with an extended warranty. This is how you protect yourself when picking one up just in case the handset gives up the ghost just a few weeks down the road.

Of course, you do not have this advantage when buying a used smartphone from private owners on platforms such as eBay, eBay classifieds, or other portals. However, used devices can be found for significantly reduced prices here, as there are no additional costs because the middleman has been cut out. With the so-called 'sale', you also secure older models that online shops still carry in new condition but which are no longer in production.

Promotions and Sales

Towards the end of the year, each consumer electronics device that you purchase is accompanied by an even greater risk of stumbling upon a cheaper offer just a few weeks down the road. This can be attributed to sales like Black Friday and its associated Black Week, Amazon Prime Day, Singles Day, and Cyber ​​Monday, all of which are discount days in the months of October and November, which are meant to prime the economy before the Christmas shopping frenzy begins. Since smartphones are one of the most popular consumer electronics devices in the market, you should keep your eyes peeled for great deals. You can check out the dates for this year's sales and promotions in the table below:

Upcoming bargains and sales dates

Mark these days down in your 2021 calendar:
Event Date
Amazon Prime Day 21 and 22 June 2021
Singles Day 11 November 2021
Black Week 23 to 27 November 2021
Black Friday 27 November 2021
Cyber Monday 30 November 2021

It's best to keep an eye on our homepage on these days. Because we search for offers in every online shop and manufacturer's website and assess the offers according to their value. As in this article, you can inform yourself with further test reports and news about the respective devices before buying.

Sign up for a contract with a service provider or an installment plan 

If your old smartphone is completely broken and cannot be used, leaving you in desperate need of an immediate replacement, you can always opt for an installment plan that covers several months of payments. Normally, this is seen in the traditional framework of smartphone contracts, where you obtain a new smartphone for free for a monthly surcharge or for a lower one-time payment. Generally speaking, restrictions of a particular smartphone model to a specific network operator no longer exists today. However, there is still the risk of paying more for the device at the end of the contract compared to buying it outright now.

On the other hand, you also obtain cheaper prices with a monthly financing plan. You pay off the purchase price of the new device across an agreed number of monthly installments sans contract and with 0% interest. Such financing packages are extremely popular, but it also comes with its own risks. For instance, if you lose your new smartphone immediately after buying it or if it breaks, you will still honor the remaining installments for a device that can no longer be used or is limited in functionality. 

Are you not satisfied with the selection of our list of sub-$200 smartphones? Do share your recommendations with us in the comments section below. If the price-performance ratio is not right for you within this price range, perhaps other "Best Of" lists in the following articles might be more your cup of tea:

More "Best Of" lists on NextPit

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15 comments

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  • Davin Peterson 1 month ago Link to comment

    The disadvantage of the cheaper Motorola phones is that they don't include NFC like Nokia and Samsung do.


  • Mitchell 8 months ago Link to comment

    I bought the Redmi 9 for about 100, its a amazing phone after some tweaking with help from youtube and xda forum


  • harshatecordeon Feb 6, 2020 Link to comment

    huawei was good


  • marco sarli
    • Admin
    Feb 6, 2020 Link to comment

    I have a Redmi 8 and, for the price, it is great.If it only had a removable battery...but anyway I get 2 days of use with 30% of charge left


  • Ken Feb 6, 2020 Link to comment

    U can get a full Moto G7, 4GB ram, 64GB storage, New on Ebay $179 all day...Don't settle for the weak 2/32GB Power...get the full on G7! smh...


  • storm Feb 6, 2020 Link to comment

    Realmi and Xiaomi are not offered with support here to speak of and with mega bloat. Nokia and Huawei don't let you unlock the bootloader.

    Moto wins as everyone else eliminates themselves.


  • Chad_Higgins Nov 22, 2015 Link to comment

    The HTC Desire 816 is a impressive phone with dual front speakers an amazing display which is 5.5 in by the way and a even better camera front and back! Highly recommend this phone!
    oh and its got the lollipop update and is on the list to receive marshmallow update!


  • Edward Amarille Nov 20, 2015 Link to comment

    Zte grand X max+ through Cricket wireless. $169 for a 6 inch screened beast.


  • Deezul Yusof Nov 20, 2015 Link to comment

    Tsch, tcsh,tcsh you poor Americans only know Samsung, LG,Motorola Asus . Whereas there are uncountable models here in Asia with myriad of combination of specifications but most of them comes with SDCard and sells much much lower than USD 200. The only reason you guys got stung is that you bought without asking if it is ROW ( Rest of the World) version or CN ( China only) version.


  • Kaleb Nov 18, 2015 Link to comment

    The G3 is awesome just saying..


  • Arpit Saini Nov 18, 2015 Link to comment

    Great Article

    However the s4 came with 16GB minimum (you wrote 8GB)
    unless you mean the usable storage memory with was about 9GB


  • hotspring21 Nov 18, 2015 Link to comment

    Excellent recommendations - it's surprising how good an android phone you can get for $200 or less these days. We are almost to the point where $600 flagships are only really different from $200 phones by cosmetic design and better camera.


  • Ankur Jain Nov 18, 2015 Link to comment

    Lenovo K3 Note, Honor 4x Meizu M2 Note, Xiaomi Mi 4i also very good option under $200 if you can get one in US of course.

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