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The Best Phones Under $400 That Are Worth Your Money

Best Smartphones 400 Dollars
© sodawhiskey / Adobe Stock / nextpit

Have $400 to spend on a new smartphone and not sure which one to choose? We're here to help. In this article, we've listed the best smartphones you can get for $400 or less, from gaming-ready SoCs with 5G, to 120 Hz displays and top-notch cameras. Without further ado, here are our top picks for smartphones under $400.

If you're short on time and just want our top recommendation for a $400 smartphone, glance at the table below. For a more detailed insight into our top picks, continue reading the descriptions below or check out the available reviews before making your decision.

Editor's note: the prices highlighted in this article may vary depending on discounts offered by the manufacturers.

The best smartphones for under $400

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

In this section, we outline what smartphones under $400 offer in 2023. While mid-range phones provide a decent balance of price and performance, in the US, this price sits between budget models and high-end mid-rangers.

At this price, you might find older devices or ones with lesser specs. Though most have 5G, they may lag in camera, performance, and design compared to the $600 range with newer tech.

  • 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 and offer good performance for daily tasks.
  • Cameras: In the mid-range, models like the Samsung Galaxy A54 have 50-megapixel main cameras, but don't match the Galaxy S23 Ultra's photo quality. The primary issue in this range is with the cameras, especially "Quad cameras" that use low-quality macro and depth sensors. Unfortunately, the telephoto camera often gets compromised.
  • Battery & charging: Batteries in this price range are typically between 4,500 and 5,000 mAh, but charging speeds are subpar. Devices from OnePlus and Xiaomi offer over 60W fast-charging, but they aren't available in the US. Here, 10W to 15W is decent. Wireless charging is rare at this price point.
  • Display: In terms of display, we can expect FullHD+ screens with high refresh rates (except for Apple), and OLED displays are getting increasingly popular, with nice color reproduction and impressive contrast levels.
  • Age and support: At this price, be wary of devices older than two years due to limited software updates. Most will receive only one or two updates beyond their initial OS. Hence, Android 10 devices will become outdated after receiving Android 14 this year.
  • Carrier compatibility: In this price range, not all devices are compatible with every carrier. Many are designed for GSM networks, common outside the US. If you're on a CDMA network like Verizon, ensure compatibility. However, with 4G LTE and 5G, this issue is diminishing.

Editor's choice under $400: Google Pixel 6a

Google Pixel 6a back cover in detail
The Google Pixel 6a is probably the best under-400 smartphone out there today. / © nextpit

Read NextPit's Google Pixel 6a review

The Google Pixel 6a is available for purchase since July 21, 2022, but surprisingly the device can be found on Amazon for $399 with 128 GB. Packed with Google's custom Tensor processor for better performance of Machine Learning-based features, the Pixel 6a seems to be the best option for those who want a more compact Google phone in 2023.

In my review of the device, it was already pretty clear that this phone was unbeatable among the smartphones under $400, even though it only offers one internal storage option and a 60 Hz refresh rate. More than that, the 6a is the most cost-effective smartphone out of the entire Pixel 6 series.

When it comes to the camera suite, the Pixel 6a offers a fairly basic module, but it doesn't really lag behind the competition, given that Google's big asset here is in the camera software. So you can be sure that the photos taken with the 6a will bear the Pixel series' stamp of quality.

A friendly tip: Consider checking the Google Pixel 7a (review) prices before making a purchase. The device might be available at a similar price on your preferred e-commerce platform.

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

A person taking a picture with the Apple iPhone SE 2022
The form factor of the iPhone SE still works very well. / © nextpit

Read NextPit's Apple iPhone SE 2022 review

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 over the previous device. You get a 12MP camera inside a virtually similar casing to the iPhone SE 2020 (and iPhone 8/7/6s) 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 for an affordable iPhone.

The best alternative under $400: Samsung Galaxy A54

Samsung Galaxy A54 display highlight
The Galaxy A54 sports a bright and fast AMOLED display. / © nextpit

Read the Samsung Galaxy A54 review

With yearly incremental upgrades, the Galaxy A54 is the 2023 version of one of Samsung's bestsellers, and for good reason. It offers a decent balance between price and performance, and in the past couple of years got a nice boost in the software update policy department, with a promise of four Android upgrades and five years of security updates, which until recently, was better than even Google's.

Its performance is noticeably lower than the Poco F5 and even the Pixel 6a in both games and heavy-processing tasks, but for regular usage, most people won't notice a difference. The Galaxy A54 generally offers less memory than most competing phones, but it is the only model in today's list with microSD storage expansion.

The cameras on the Galaxy A54 are decent, better than the Xiaomi and Motorola phones on this list but still behind the Pixel, with good daylight and night shots, and more usable ultra-wide and macro cameras than the Xiaomi duo.

Overall, the Galaxy A54 doesn't win in the performance, battery, or camera departments, but it also doesn't compromise too much on those categories. And the superior software support means that it will still receive security updates four years from now.

Premium look under $400: Motorola Edge 40

Motorola Edge (2023) back side with its non-glossy finish
The black version of the Edge 40 isn't the best to show the model's design. / © nextpit

Read the Motorola Edge 40 review

The Edge 40 seems out of place in this list, with an MSRP of $600, but the phone is highly discounted most of the time, with street prices usually below $400. The phone is offered in various splashy colors (but for some reason Motorola opted to lend us the boring black option for the review...) and comes with a nice soft material on the back that feels premium to the touch and helps with the grip.

For those who prefer curved displays, the Edge 40 is one of the few options left in this price range, with a nice and fast screen that refreshes at 144 Hz. Another feature that is exclusive to the Edge on this list is wireless charging, and while the above Redmi phone beats the Motorola in wired charging speeds, the Edge 40 includes a decent 68 W charger that took it to full charge in 46 minutes during nextpit's review.

In the software department, Motorola bumped its software update policy to match Xiaomi's four years of security updates, which although inferior to Samsung and Google, is reasonable for most people. And the Dimensity 8200 should offer good enough performance until then, with a processor that sits roughly mid-way between the very fast Snapdragon on the Poco F5 and the mid-range Dimensity 1080 on the Redmi Note 12 Pro+.

Best phone with Stylus under $400: Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)

Woman in red outfit holding the Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G, vibrant phone display
The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G 2023 is among the rare mid-range handsets that come with a stylus. / © Motorola

Motorola offers many options in this price range—some might argue too many—but a standout is the Moto G Stylus line. It brings some productivity features of the Galaxy Note family to a broader market.

The G Stylus range is differentiated by 2023 models, available with or without 5G connectivity. The latest model, aptly named Moto G Stylus 5G (2023), is not only impressive on paper but also competitively priced. It includes 6 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, with an option for microSD card expansion.

However, the camera department might seem underwhelming with its 8 MP ultra-wide camera and a main 50 MP lens. Conversely, the large 6.6-inch LCD screen boasts a swift 120Hz refresh rate, ideal for tasks like note-taking, photo editing, or scrolling on social media.

In conclusion, while the Moto G Stylus 5G might not excel in every category, it offers a balanced set of features and a uniqueness not commonly seen in today's smartphones.

Alternatives to purchasing a more expensive smartphone

Getting a device with a plan, discounted or free

Financing a device is an affordable way to obtain a new one, as carriers offer incentives to attract and retain customers. Typically, payments are broken into 24 or 36 installments with an eligible plan. Additionally, discounts or even free devices are available when starting a new plan.

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.

Refurbished smartphones are inspected and restored by trusted companies to ensure quality. They're especially appealing when accompanied by an extended warranty, offering protection against potential issues shortly after purchase.

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 in November 2023. Old comments have been maintained and may seem out of context.

 The best smartphones under $400

  Editorial tip Price tip 3rd place 4th place 5th place
Image Google Pixel 6a Product Image Apple iPhone SE (2022) Product Image Samsung Galaxy A53 Product Image OnePlus Nord N20 Product Image Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) Product Image
Review: Google Pixel 6a
Review: Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Review: Samsung Galaxy A53
Not yet tested
Not yet tested
Price (MSRP)
  • $449.00
  • $429.00
  • $449.99
  • $299.00
  • $399.00
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Camila Rinaldi

Camila Rinaldi
Head of Editorial

With over 10 years of reviewing smartphones and wearables, I recently became addicted to smart home gadgets. Even though I dove into the Apple ecosystem two years back, Android remains as one of my passions. Previously editor-in-chief of AndroidPIT and Canaltech in Brazil, I now write for the US market. I love my records and I believe that the best way to get to know a place is through its food.

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  • storm Mar 17, 2022 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.

    • Rusty H. Aug 24, 2022 Link to comment

      My phone bill costs 50 bucks a month (straight talk). Boss pays half of that. I haven't "financed" a phone since before the smartphone era. The amount you pay "on contract" is nuts. It's cheaper just to buy one full price, UNLOCKED, and go where you want. Plus, if you trade it in, or sell it (unlocked) are easier to sell so you can get something back.