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The best smartphones you can buy today for under $200

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

Which sub-$200 smartphone should you buy in 2021? NextPit parades models from different manufacturers such as Xiaomi, Realme, Samsung, and Motorola, where most of them deliver many functions and top-drawer performance to the entry-level class. With selected models, you can even expect longer security updates or real premium features such as 5G or powerful cameras.

The best sub-$200 smartphones compared

  Editor's choice Best value-for-money 5G recommendation Best camera (Not reviewed) (Not reviewed) (Not reviewed)
Product name
Image Motorola Moto G30 Oppo A16s Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T Huawei P40 Lite OnePlus Nord N100 Realme 8 Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S
Pros
  • All-day battery life
  • Display with 90 Hz refresh rate
  • MicroSD card support
  • Headphone jack
  • Decent camera
  • Chic design
  • Good battery life
  • Good display
  • Solid MediaTek Dimensity 800U performance
  • Average screen
  • Excellent battery life
  • Good daylight performance in main camera
  • MIUI 12
  • Excellent camera
  • Very nice design
  • Good display
  • Good battery life
Cons
  • Quick charging not very fast
  • Camera performance at night is poor
  • Only one major Android update guaranteed
  • Partially choppy performance
  • Only one "real" camera
  • Strange design
  • Average screen quality
  • Camera module is not versatile
  • No IP certification
  • Ads in the UI
  • No Google services supported
  • AppGallery catalog still needs a lot of work
  • Difficult to transit from an older smartphone
Ratings
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If you don't want to spend a lot of money on a smartphone in 2021, you're most likely be happy with these models. We arrived at this conclusion with four models from our own reviews as part of the list. We have not yet reviewed three of the listed handsets in our editorial office. Nevertheless, we want to present them to you as alternatives, since they have proven to be rather convincing either in reviews by colleagues or simply by taking a look at the hardware specifications.

I curated this list after going through a discussion in the editorial office, and our opinions now differ greatly from our selection from the summer. That's because models like the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus or the Realme 7 have gone up in price in recent months. In this selection, I therefore want to be a little bit more strict and would only recommend models that you are able to pick up even without a special offer at a price for less than $200.

NextPit recommendations: The best 2021 smartphones for less than $200

After I have already presented the models in table form, I will now dive into more detail about the individual models. For each case, you will find links to reviews or further information about the respective device on NextPit.

Motorola Moto G30: The best all-rounder under $200

NextPit Motorola Moto G30 screen
Like all current Motorola smartphones, the Moto G30 has a 5,000 mAh battery / © NextPit

Rating

Bewertung Design und Handling

Pros

  • All-day battery life
  • Display with 90 Hz refresh rate
  • MicroSD card support
  • Headphone jack
 

Cons

  • Quick-charging is not very fast
  • Camera performance at night is very poor
  • Only one major Android update guaranteed

Read our Motorola Moto G30 review on NextPit

In our opinion, the best all-rounder and thus, the best smartphone under $200, is the Motorola Moto G30. With this handset, you will be able to enjoy a good overall package with an all-day battery life, a high-quality display including a 90 Hertz refresh rate, as well as a MicroSD slot and a headphones jack. The Android operating system also comes without any bloatware, which is rather uncommon in this price range.

On the downside, quick-charging is quite slow and you should not really use the Moto G30 for night shots. The biggest criticism, however, is that Motorola only guarantees one major Android update and that's that. The guaranteed security updates is fine, but you can only look forward to Android 12 update.

Oppo A16s: Value-for-money sub-$200 smartphone

Oppo A16s
The Oppo A16s has a lot in common with its predecessor - but gets one more year of updates / © NextPit

Rating

Bewertung Design und Handling

Pros

  • Decent camera
  • Chic design
  • Good battery life
  • Good display
 

Cons

  • Partially choppy performance
  • Only one "real" camera

Read our Oppo A16s review at NextPit

Recommended for its value-for-money proposition, we have decided that the Oppo A16s best represents this category. The entry-level smartphone was released just a few weeks before this curated list was updated and has a recommended retail price of just under $150. At that price point, you get a smartphone with a solid main camera, a decent battery life, and a good display. Stefan even wrote in his review that these are good enough in smartphones that cost twice as much.

As for its disadvantages, he mentioned performance that is just simply lacking at this price range. As with the Motorola model, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack and support for MicroSD cards. Extras like 90 Hz displays, an ultra-wide-angle camera, and fast charging are missing on the Oppo A16s, though. However, the "s-model" does offer NFC and supports digital payment methods!

Redmi Note 9T: 5G for cheap

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
The Redmi Note 9T is one of the cheapest 5G smartphones on the market / © NextPit

Rating

Bewertung Design und Handling

Pros

  • Solid MediaTek Dimensity 800U performance
  • Excellent battery life
  • Proper daylight performance by the main camera
  • MIUI 12
 

Cons

  • Strange design
  • Average screen quality
  • Camera module is not versatile
  • No IP certification
  • Ads in the UI

Read our review of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T on NextPit

If you want to use your new 5G contract with a smartphone that costs less than $200, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T is a particularly suitable candidate. The smartphone went on sale in January 2021 at a recommended retail price of $249.90. In the meantime, the price has seen a permanent drop to a level of approximately $200. In the review, Antoine was sold by the solid performance of the processor as well as the excellent battery life.

In our 5G test with the Redmi Note 9T, we achieved very good upload and download speeds in downtown Berlin. However, Antoine reserved some criticism for the screen that is rather average with missing IP certification. In addition, there is the typical Xiaomi advertising when using the operating system. We do have a guide on how to disable advertising on Xiaomi smartphones.

Huawei P40 lite: Best camera performance

Huawei P40 Lite
The Huawei P40 Lite offers a good and, above all, useful quad-camera configuration on the back./ © NextPit

Rating

Bewertung Design und Handling

Pros

  • Excellent camera
  • Very nice design
  • Good display
  • Good battery life
 

Cons

  • No Google services supported
  • AppGallery catalog still needs plenty of work
  • Bumpy switch from an older smartphone

Read our review of the Huawei P40 lite on NextPit

The Huawei P40 lite is a tough pick, but we didn't want to deprive you of it. After all, the camera is among the best performer in this price range without too many things to grumble about. However, the P40 lite has been released only after the trade embargo against Huawei was enforced. As such, the smartphone comes without Google services, which does take some getting used to. Instead of Google Play services, you will have to resort to Huawei's AppGallery.

Apart from the good camera, the smartphone convinces with a chic design, a great display, and an enduring battery life. Thus, the P40 lite is not only a good camera phone, but also a good smartphone for everyday use. You can find out additional information about it and especially its sample photos in the linked review above.

Alternatives that NextPit has not reviewed

For the following handsets, we would like to point out a few smartphones that we have not yet been able to review at NextPit, especially considering the $200 price point cap that we are constrained by. If you were to push the budget a little bit higher, there are models that appear in different versions with minimal changes or are also sold as a rebranded device by other manufacturers.

OnePlus Nord N100

With the Nord N100, OnePlus has entered the entry-level smartphone market for the very first time. With this device, you will mainly benefit from the very popular OxygenOS, OnePlus' own operating system. However, it is basically a rebrand of the Oppo A53. Thus, the phone offers 64 GB of storage space, a 5,000 mAh battery, and a 90 Hertz display. Pretty good specifications for less than $200!

More info about the OnePlus Nord N100 on NextPit

Realme 8

The manufacturer Realme has made a name for itself for smartphones with a good price-to-performance ratio. The Realme 8 is the model that we would most like to recommend to you for under $200. However, there is only one problem: Its predecessor, the Realme 7, costs slightly more than $200 and still offers a better price-to-performance ratio.

So if you can afford to spend a bit more money, I'd advise you to buy the Realme 7 or go for the Realme 8 Pro, which comes with a 108-megapixel camera and other superior hardware. However, Realme should not remain unmentioned in this list, even if the offer under $200 is rather slim pickings.

Read more about the Realme 8 on NextPit

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S

My observation about Realme can also be applied to Xiaomi. Yes, with the Redmi Note 10S, you will get a usable smartphone for less than $200. However, with Xiaomi, we recommend you to spend a little bit more. This is because the Redmi Note 10 Pro costs $250 thereabouts and you end up with the king of value-for-money handsets.

The Note 10S offers a high-quality MediaTek Helio G95 chipset at this price range, which is mated to 6 GB of RAM. For the camera, it comes with a quad-camera configuration that is even capable of 4K video recording. All this is powered by a 5,000 mAh battery and NFC connectivity for digital payments. But for $50 more, you can even enjoy a 120 Hz display and a 108-MP camera in the Pro model.

More info on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S

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

NextPit receives a commission for purchases made via the marked links. This has no influence on the editorial content and there are no costs for you. You can find out more about how we make money on our transparency page.
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18 comments

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  • Sorin 2 months ago Link to comment

    Personally, I like the Oppo A16s, especially for looks but also for performance. My second choice would be the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T. And that's about it for now. Even for the $200 budget, the performance is very good, the choice of a model is not exactly easy, and even the overall look is now taken much more into consideration. The $300 category raises the bar even higher, and again the choice is not easy.


    • Zois Bekios Zannikos
      • Admin
      • Staff
      2 months ago Link to comment

      Im personally using the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro and its still a very solid device for 200 eur


  • Davin Peterson 7 months ago Link to comment

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


    • storm 2 months ago Link to comment

      It's not used so much in the US yet. Which is too bad.


  • Mitchell Nov 14, 2020 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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