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Best mid-range phones for under $400 in 2022

Update: As of June 2022
Best Smartphones Under 400
© 9dream studio / Shutterstock.com, Collage: NextPit

Have $400 to spend on a new smartphone but confused about what to buy? Let us help. In this article, we list the best smartphones available for you to purchase for $400 or less—from gaming-ready SoCs with 5G to 120 Hz displays and decent cameras. Without any further ado, here are our favorite smartphones under $400 for the US market!

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If you happen to be in a hurry and want to know what we think is the best $400 smartphone currently available, you can quickly read the table below, but if you want more information on our best $400 smartphones, then I recommend you read their entries below or their reviews (where available) before making a purchase. 

The best smartphones for under $400

  Best tip Apple tip 2 in 1 tip RAM tip Stylus tip
Product
Picture
Samsung Galaxy A53
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Motorola Moto G100
Samsung-galaxy-a42-5g moto-g-stylus-5g
Display
6.5-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED
120 Hz Infinity-O display
4.7 inch IPS LCD,
750 x 1334 (~326 PPI)
6.7-inch LCD
1080 x 2520 90 Hertz (~409 PPI)
6.6-inch Super AMOLED
720 x 1600 (~266 PPI)
6.8-inch IPS LCD,
1080 x 2400 (~387 PPI)
SoC Exynos 1280 Apple A15 Bionic Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 Qualcomm Snapdragon 750 5G Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G
Memory 6/8 GB RAM and 128/256 GB Storage 4 GB RAM | 64 / 128 / 256 GB Storage 8 GB RAM | 128 GB Storage 4 / 6 / 8 GB RAM | 128 GB Storage 4 / 6 GB RAM | 128 / 256 GB Storage
microSD Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Software Android 12 mit Samsung UI 4.1 iOS 15.6 Android 12 One UI 4.0 based on Android 12 Android 12
Rear camera
Main camera: 64MP, f/1.8, OIS, AF
Ultrawide: 12MP, f/2.2
Macro: 5MP, f/2.4
Depth: 5MP, f/2.4


Main Camera: 12MP, f/1.8, PDAF, OIS Main camera: 64MP | f/1.7 | 79°
Ultra wide-angle/macro: 16MP | f/2.2 | 117°
Depth: 2MP | f/2.4 | 83°

Main camera: 48MP, f/1.8, PDAF
Ultrawide: 8MP, f/2.2
Macro: 5MPf/2.4
Depth: 5MP, f/2.4


Main camera: 48MP, f/1.7, PDAF
Ultrawide: 8MP, f/2.2
Macro: 5MPf/2.2
Depth: 2MP, f/2.4
 



Front camera 32MP, f/2.2 7MP, f/2.2 Main: 16MP | f/2.2 | 73°
UItrawide: 8MP | f/2.4 | 118°
20MP, f/2.2 16MP, f/2.0
Battery
5,000 mAh
Quick charging at 25W
2.018 mAh
Fast charging at 20W
Qi wireless charging

5,000 mAh
Fast charging at 20W
5,000 mAh
Fast charging at 15W
5,000 mAh
Charging at 10W
Connectivity 5G, LTE, WLAN 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, USB Typ-C, NFC, GPS 5G, 4G LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC with Apple Pay 5G, LTE, dual-band Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1 5G, LTE, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 5G, LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC
IP certification IP67 IP67 - - -
Colors Awesome Black, Awesome White, Awesome Violet, Awesome Mint (PRODUCT)RED, Black, White Iridescent Sky, Iridescent Ocean, Slate Grey Prism Dot White, Prism Dot Gray, Prism Dot Black Blue Haze, Grey Sierra
Dimensions and weight 159,9 x 75,1 x 8,4 mm, 189 g 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm, 144 g 168.4 x 74 x 9.7 mm, 207 g 164.4 x 75.9 x 8.6 mm, 193 g 158.9 x 73.2 x 8.25 mm, 189 g
Prices (MSRP) $419.99 $399.00 $390.06 $399.99 $399
Good
  • Good AMOLED display
  • Good performance
  • Decent battery life
  • The best software support in the category
  • Insane performance level
  • High-quality workmanship
  • Surprisingly good photo and video performance
  • Solid battery life that lasts up till late at night
  • Excellent and stable performance
  • Great battery life
  • Good screen, although LCD and "only" 90 Hz
  • Headphone jack and microSD card slot
  • AMOLED screen
  • Already on Android 12, with many updates ahead
  • Great performance
  • All-round  features
  • Large battery
  •  Gets Android 12
  • Stylus support
Bad
  • Slow charging
  • No headphone jack
  • Non-competitive price
  • Display is simply outdated
  • Too few camera functions
  • Low storage space in the base model without expandable memory
  • More expensive than predecessor at market launch
  • Not very versatile camera
  • No wireless charging
  • No IP certification
  • Below average upgrade policy
  • Low resolution
  • Falls behind in performance
  • Slow charging
  • Not an OLED screen1
Rating
Samsung Galaxy A53 - Go to review
The Galaxy A53 seems like a processor upgrade over the A52 and A52 5G, with better performance and similar battery life.
Rubens Eishima
Writer
Apple iPhone SE (2022) - Go to review
More than meets the eye!
Benjamin Lucks
Head of Editorial DE
Motorola Moto G100 - Go to review
The Moto G100 is a mix of strengths and weaknesses!
Rubens Eishima
Writer
Not yet rated
Not yet rated
Offers*

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Buying guide: What you can expect from smartphones up to $400

In this section, we summarize what you can expect from smartphones up to 400 USD. Mid-range phones manage a really good balancing act between price and performance in 2022, but in the US, the price point sits awkwardly between the budget phones and the upper mid-rangers and low-end flagships.

Considerable concessions need to be made for this price point, like purchasing devices from older years or with weaker specs. Thankfully all of these devices (except the iPhone SE 2020) feature 5G, but cameras, performance, and design lack features of the slightly more expensive $500 price range, where you can find newer technology. 

  • Power and performance: Investing in a sub-$400 device will at least guarantee that the SoC can tackle the most recent games. Here you should expect SoC's that are at least one to two years old, like the Snapdragon 480 by Qualcomm that was released over a year ago.
  • Cameras: The megapixel craze has long since found its way into the mid-range as well. Models like the Samsung Galaxy A53 offer main cameras with 64 megapixels, but they do not automatically provide Galaxy 22 Ultra-level photos. Beyond that, the biggest flaw of the mid-range is usually found in the cameras: "Quad cameras" that cheat with superfluous macro and depth sensors, often with 2 or 5 megapixels and thus hardly usable results. But you have to make sacrifices somewhere - it is a pity that the telephoto camera usually has to take the fall.
  • Battery & charging: The batteries in this price range are not only large (often in the range between 4,500 and 5,000 mAh), but charging in this price range is lackluster! Quick-charging with over 60 watts is something that comes with devices from OnePlus and Xiaomi that unfortunately do not bring their devices to the US! Here anything over 10W and 15W should be considered alright. Wireless charging at this price range is difficult to find.
  • Display: In terms of display we can expect very good resolutions of HD and FHD+ but refresh rates are still at 60Hz, and OLED displays only come in some devices. Thankfully, this means that the brightness is quite good, with the top displays in this category being able to show HDR10+ content.
  • Age and support: At this price point, it is imperative to be cautious for devices that are older than two years since their life-cycle will depend mostly on the software updates that they receive over the years. Most of those devices are expected to receive one or two Android updates from the one they shipped with, so Android 10 devices will be left behind after they get this year's Android 12.
  • Carrier Compatibility: Something to always keep in mind when shopping in this price range is that not all devices will work with all carriers. Most of these devices are primarily made for GSM networks that are dominant outside of the US. So if you are using a CDMA operator, like Verizon, then you need to pay extra attention to this. Thankfully with 4G LTE and 5G connectivity, this is slowly becoming less of a problem.

The best smartphone under $400: Samsung Galaxy A53

Samsung Galaxy A53
The Samsung Galaxy A53 is our tip if you are looking for a good display and performance! / © NextPit

Samsung is known to make the best displays in smartphones, and for this reason, it is the Galaxy A53 that we recommend to you in this category. Samsung's latest midranger shows you content on a brilliant 6.5-inch display with FHD+ resolution and a decent puch hole. The refresh rate of 120 hertz is as high as in the 5G version of the predecessor.

Besides the very good display, Samsung also scores with the longest update warranty for Android smartphones ever. If you buy the A53 in 2022, you can probably use it until 2027 thanks to five years of support for security updates. In addition, there are four major Android updates. All advantages and disadvantages of the A53 can be found in our detailed review.

To the review of the Galaxy A53

Best iPhone under $400: Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Apple iPhone SE 2022
The form factor of the iPhone SE still works very well. / © NextPit

As an Apple alternative, we recommend the iPhone SE (2022) without any second thought. Coming two years after the iPhone SE (2020), the new budget iPhone sports a powerful A15-bionic but sees little improvement ocer the previous device. You get a 12MP camera inside a virtually similar casing with the iPhone SE 2022 and IP67 resistance.

The real upgrade aside from the SoC (and the extra GB of RAM at 4GB) is the 5G connectivity, which makes the device finally capable of enjoying the latest connectivity technology like the rest of the sub-$400 devices you see in this list. We already tested the iPhone SE (2022) and of course it is a great solution for anyone looking at an affordable iPhone.

To the review of the Apple iPhone SE 2022

Best smartphone 2 in 1 phone under $400: Motorola Moto G100

Motorola Moto G100 accessories Ready For feature
Moto G100 is compatible with the Ready For feature, which turns the phone into a desktop or game console / © NextPit

The Motorola Moto G100 was officially announced in March 2021 and has been on sale in the US since then. This mid-range smartphone is powered by the 5G-ready Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 SoC and ships with 8 GB RAM and only one storage options—128 GB. Memory expansion is supported using microSD cards.

The highligh of this device is that the Moto G100 is compatible with the Ready For feature, which turns the phone into a desktop or game console.

besides that, the G100 is a large phone with a massive 6.7-inch LCD display with FHD+ resolution. The phone gets triple cameras at the rear, with the primary camera using a 64MP sensor. The two other cameras on the phone include an 16MP ultrawide camera and a 2MP depth sensor. Here we have two front-facing cameras: a 16MP main sensor and a 8MP ultrawide camera.

The Motorola Moto G100 houses a large 5,000 mAh battery that can easily power the phone through two days of normal use. The phone ships with a 20W charger but does support fast charging.

To the review of the Motorola Moto G100

Best smartphone on RAM options under $400: Samsung Galaxy A42 5G

Galaxy A42 5G
The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G is a good option for less than $400 / © Samsung`

Samsung released the Galaxy A42 5G for the US market in November 2020. The phone, as evident from the name, is a 5G capable mid-range handset. The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G comes powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G chipset and is offered in a great variety of RAM options: 4, 6 and 8 GB—coupled with 128GB of storage. Users so get the option to expand the storage further using a microSD card.

The camera setup on the Galaxy A42 5G includes a 48MP primary camera, an 8MP ultrawide camera, and a 2MP depth sensor. The selfie camera is at 20MP. While the Super AMOLED display measures 6.6-inches across, it only supports HD+ resolution—something that would be unacceptable in any other smartphone market save the US. The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G gets a massive 5,000 mAh battery and it supports 15W fast charging as well.

Best smartphone with Stylus under $400: Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G 

Moto G Stylus 5G
The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G is among the rare handsets that come with a stylus/ © Motorola

With the oddity of the sub-$400 market, nothing deserves the editor's choice position more than the Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G. The device brings features similar to what the company used to offer about a decade ago. The Snapdragon 480 may not be on par with the Samsung  A42 5G but comes ahead in other aspects. Firstly, you get 6 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, and the stylus is only something we find at super expensive devices like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The 2021 version of the phone also offers support for microSD cards. Like the other Motorola handset in this list, this phone also gets a humungous 6.8-inch display with FHD+ resolution. In that way, the Moto G Stylus 5G makes for a versatile handset that supports features like sketching and doodling with equally decent cameras.

As for the cameras, we're looking at a triple camera setup is a 48MP + 8MP + 2MB configuration with a 16MP front-facing camera. The battery capacity is 5,000 mAh, and the phone ships with a standard 10W charger in the box. So to conclude, the Moto G Stylus 5G may not be the best in any category but brings a balanced set of features and a novelty that is not found in smartphones anymore. 

Alternatives to purchasing a more expensive smartphone

Getting a device with a plan, discounted or for free

Getting a device with financing is the easiest way to get yourself a good new device without breaking the bank. This is because carriers will go to great lengths to claim and maintain customers. Aside from the normal financing options that break in 24 or 36 installments (alongside an eligible plan), you can get a device either for a good discount when getting a new line in one of their plans or even completely free on some occasions. Here are some examples.

Refurbished 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.

What do you think of this selection? Which models do you think we have forgotten and which deserve to be included? Do you find the advice sections and our testing process useful? What do you think of this new format? We look forward to your feedback! 


This article has been updated on June 17th, 2022. Old comments have been maintained and may look out of context.

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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  • storm 4 months ago Link to comment

    TCL has been making some interesting moves in the phone world. But Motorola still gets my vote. Their chop and twist features are supreme.

    But I've got to disagree about financing a phone being a deal. You get roped in to way overpriced contracts. You'll save a lot more buying the phone and going pre-paid service. If you can't afford a smartphone, buy a feature phone and still go prepaid. I did this for years during the smartphone era. Saved a lot of money until it made financial sense to get a smartphone.

    If you need a smartphone for work, they should offer some option to supply or cover the the costs.