5 of the best metal smartphones that cost under $400 unlocked (US)

5 of the best metal smartphones that cost under $400 unlocked (US)
Not long ago, most smartphones made out of metal were expensive - premium devices that clearly stood out from the crowd of plastic-made ones. Needless to say, many customers simply couldn't afford buying a metal-made handset. Fortunately, things have changed, and we now have metal smartphones for pretty much all budgets. Of course, not everyone wants a phone made out of metal, but, if you do and you're not ready to pay more than $400 for one, we think you should check out the devices listed below.

Mind you, except for the first handset seen here, all others only work on GSM/LTE carriers (like AT&T and T-Mobile), so customers of Verizon, Sprint, or US Cellular can't use them. In alphabetical order:

Apple iPhone SE

An iPhone on a list of relatively affordable handsets? Well, yes, Apple finally has a smartphone that's sold at a pretty accessible price: the iPhone SE. Granted, the SE uses the same design of the iPhone 5s from three years ago, including a body that's mostly metal, plus some glass on the back and around the display. But this iPhone is way more powerful than any handset from the iPhone 5s era, thanks to the fact that it packs Apple's A9 processor (also found inside the iPhone 6s) coupled with 2 GB of RAM. The iPhone SE is arguably the best compact smartphone (metal-made or not) that you can currently buy, assuming that its 4-inch display isn't too small for you. An unlocked iPhone SE costs $399, though this only gets you the 16 GB version (you'll have to pay $100 more for the 64 GB model).

BLU Vivo 5

Known for selling cheap, but decent smartphones, BLU earlier this year released its very first all-metal handset: the Vivo 5, which costs $199.99 unlocked. We're actually surprised by how well made the BLU Vivo 5 is, and also by the fact that it has a USB Type-C port - something that's not yet found on any other phone at this price. Other specs aren't that impressive, though, including a 5.5-inch 720p display, an octa-core MediaTek 6753 processor, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of expandable storage space. The BLU Vivo 5 currently runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, but it will be updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow in the near future.

honor 5X

Made by Huawei (currently the world's third largest smartphone vendor), the honor 5X can be a great choice if you're looking for a cheap metal-made smartphone that offers a fingerprint scanner - one that's pretty fast and accurate, in our experience. Metal design and fingerprint sensor aside, the honor 5X also has other not-too-shabby features, including a 5.5-inch 1080p display, an octa-core Snapdragon 616 processor, and 2 GB of RAM. Like the BLU Vivo 5, the honor 5X still runs Android Lollipop, but it will be updated to Marshmallow. All in all, Huawei seems to have a winner here, already selling 8 million honor 5X units worldwide.

OnePlus 3

Announced and released earlier this week, the OnePlus 3 is the newest device on our list. This is the first OnePlus to offer a full metal body, and, while it may not have the most original design out there, we're fairly impressed by its build quality. Also impressive is the list of features that the OnePlus 3 comes with: Snapdragon 820 CPU, 16 MP Sony-made rear camera, 6 GB of RAM, 64 GB of internal memory, fingerprint scanner, Oxygen OS (based on Android Marshmallow), and so on. The 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED screen of the OnePlus 3 is not the sharpest out there (it obviously can't match Quad HD panels), but it's still a very good display. Despite all the high-end stuff that the OnePlus 3 is offering, the device is sold for $399 - and you don't need an invite to buy it (as it was the case with previous OnePlus phones).

ZTE Axon Pro

Launched last summer in the US, the ZTE Axon Pro has an interesting design based on an aluminum case (with a bit of plastic at the top and bottom). We wouldn't be wrong in saying that the Axon Pro is nearly as impressive as the OnePlus 3, as it's got features usually found on more expensive smartphones: a 5.5-inch Quad HD screen, a Snapdragon 810 processor, Hi-Fi sound, 4 GB of RAM, and up to 64 GB of storage space. There's also a 13 MP dual rear camera on board, but it's not among the greatest cameras we've seen (still pretty good though). Initially running Android Lollipop, the Axon Pro was updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow in February. At the moment, the ZTE Axon Pro 64 GB costs $379.98, while the 32 GB one can be bought for $349.98.



1. neela_akaash

Posts: 1239; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

Next article... 5 of the best metal smartphones that cost under $200 unlocked..

14. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

maybe only honor 5X in that list, since they only write about US, lol.. if its other part of the world, we can choose: - LeEco Le 2 - Redmi 3 - Meizu M1 metal

2. vijay.alapati

Posts: 181; Member since: Jan 08, 2015

"Granted, the SE uses the same design of the iPhone 5s from three years ago, " Isn't this same as iPhone 5 which is 4 years ago O_o

3. sebbellic01

Posts: 305; Member since: May 03, 2016

The 5S carried over minor changes, like the home button design and the dual-led flash

6. Rydsmith unregistered

The 5 did not have Touch ID.

15. Jango

Posts: 376; Member since: Oct 24, 2014

Very true. The design is generally the same as the 4 year old iPhone

5. Sidewinder

Posts: 515; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

I have a feeling the point of this article is to somehow remind readers here that the iPhone SE exists.

8. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

Weird! All are bloody phablets except for one, which is the polar opposite of phablets! Apple going small, whereas The Android herd going big, bigger, biggest with now 6" Phablets on the horizon, that'll likely go up to 6.5"in near future... Perhaps Android makers are compensating for the lack of fluidness, consistency and optimization with bigger displays and a ZILLION pixels? That's cheap, eh? Oh well... Who am I to argue! G'Day!

11. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1183; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

yup, 6.44 inch phablets are becoming a normal thing these days, a couple companies have rolled out this size.

13. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

Perhaps if you didn't have such baby hands, you might be able to hold a Phablet device. You know what they say about those with little baby hands like you right?

16. Jason2k13

Posts: 1462; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

"Apple going small" so that explains the screen size from the iphone 4, to the 5 and the 6 and 6 plus? plz explain tree man?

9. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

@Sidewinder Sounds like you're overwhelmed with iPhone's success and mind blown with iOS10 features... It's all right to feel small and insignificant every now and then, lad... But try to deal with it instead of showing glowing signs of jealousy and envy... G'Day!

12. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

Small and insignificant. Words that describe you well greenman.

17. Sidewinder

Posts: 515; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

@GreenMan Impressed? Yes but overwhelmed? A definite no. Unlike many android users here, I am what some would call a true power user. I'm into stuff like rooting, custom roms, custom kernels, undervolting, overclocking, full system level customisation and molding, and stuff like that. That is why I'm rocking a 5.7 inch powerhouse called the Note 4. So why would I feel jealousy and envious of a 4 inch apple phone??

7. JetMK

Posts: 97; Member since: Jan 31, 2015

I'm surprised the Leeco Max 2 didn't make the list. Tempted to get it as backup phone...

10. justrt

Posts: 446; Member since: Jul 10, 2014

PhoneArena, you guys have been looking for categories to put the OnePlus 3 in, haven't you?

18. tokuzumi

Posts: 1907; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

I have an iPhone SE on a cargo ship right now, should get here in a couple of days. Only other device I'd consider above is the OnePlus 3. I'd root, as I'd want to make sure I have the latest version of android, and use all of those GBs of RAM. And that Axon Pro looks just like the HTC One X from the front.

19. libra89

Posts: 2282; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

If the Honor 5x wasn't so big, I would love to try it out sometime. Same for 1+3. I don't care that the iPhone SE is metal, I care that it offers a great package in a small size.

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