8 best cheap phones under $150 (2017)


In the tech world, and particularly so when smartphones are concerned, as a general rule you can expect the spotlight to be aimed almost exclusively at the high-end, where companies tend to be quite a bit more innovative. As a result, media and people alike usually gloss over weaker devices, resulting in a distinct lack of coverage for the low-end. For consumers, this is a big problem, as it makes the search for a cheap device that much more difficult due to the scarcity of information.

So, to rectify that problem, we’ve compiled a short list of the best sub-$150 devices which you can get right now. Whether you’re buying it for a friend, a relative, or yourself, this list can hopefully help you make the correct decision.

Asus ZenFone 3 Max

(Price: $149; Amazon: $149; Best Buy: $149)


Display5.2 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels
HardwareMediaTek MT6737 CPU, Mali T720 GPU, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 128 GB
CameraMain: 13 MP, LED flash, Autofocus; Front: 5 MP
Battery4130 mAh, non-removable

Pros

  • Good-looking design
  • Dual SIM card support
  • Huge battery
  • Fingerprint scanner

Cons

  • ZenUI can feel a bit bloated at times
Asus released a number of devices in its ZenFone 3 line last year, and the Max, despite being the cheapest one of the bunch, still manages to pack a few tricks. Featuring a lightweight aluminum design, it’s certainly one of the better-looking devices on the list. The standout feature of the device, however, is the 4,100 mAh battery, which is quite impressive in capacity, especially for a device at this price point. $150 can get you the slightly weaker version, featuring 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB storage, but thankfully the latter is upgradeable via SD card. The ZenFone 3 Max also runs on Android Marshmallow with Asus’ ZenUI on top of it. A welcome extra is the addition of a fingerprint scanner, a feature usually reserved for more expensive phones.

Motorola Moto G4 Play

(Price: $130; Amazon: $130; Best Buy: $130 | Review)


Display5.0 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels
HardwareQualcomm Snapdragon 410 CPU, Adreno 306 GPU, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 128 GB
CameraMain: 8 MP, LED flash, Autofocus; Front: 5 MP
Battery2800 mAh, removable

Pros

  • Splash-proof design
  • Loud front-facing speaker
  • Near-stock Android

Cons

  • Included charger doesn’t support Quick Charge 2.0
As the entry-level offering from Moto’s G4 line, the Play offers a design that is similar to, but slightly less cluttered than its brethren. The device is splash-proof, meaning the occasional spilled glass of water won’t be a problem. Out of the box, the device comes with near-stock Android Marshmallow, but the upgrade to Nougat came out just a few weeks ago. Besides GSM, the unlocked version of the G4 Play also supports CDMA networks, such as Sprint and Verizon.

BLU R1 HD

(Amazon: $110)


Display5.0 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels
HardwareMediaTek MT6735 CPU, Mali-T720 MP2 GPU, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 64 GB
CameraMain: 8 MP, LED flash; Front: 5 MP, LED flash
Battery2500 mAh, non-removable

Pros

  • Low price
  • Dual SIM card support

Cons

  • Cameras lack autofocus
One of the most popular devices for the relative newcomer to the smartphone scene, the BLU R1 HD comes in a few different buying options, including a discounted Amazon Prime exclusive version, which offers ads to its users and comes with preinstalled Amazon apps. However, even the regular, more expensive variant, though, manages to be one of the cheaper phones on the list, despite offering comparable specs. The 5’ screen is a good choice for the R1's 720p resolution, and is made of Gorilla Glass 3, making it scratch-resistant. The quad-core processor, clocking in at 1.3 GHz, offers adequate performance for most use cases.

Alcatel POP 4 Plus

(Amazon: $106; Best Buy: $116)


Display5.5 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels
HardwareQualcomm Snapdragon 210 CPU, Adreno 304 GPU, 1.5 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 32 GB
CameraMain: 8 MP, LED flash, Autofocus; Front: 5 MP, LED flash
Battery2500 mAh, removable

Pros

  • Dual SIM card support
  • Fingerprint sensor

Cons

  • 1.5 GB RAM is too little

Another device with a front-facing flash, the POP 4 Plus is a slightly upgraded version of the POP 4, featuring a bigger display and a bit more RAM. The device runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and comes with an expandable storage of 16 GB. Also included is a small fingerprint sensor below the screen. The design is simple but nevertheless good-looking, due to the false metal finish on the back panel, while the battery is big enough for everyday usage, despite being on the low end of the spectrum for this list.

ZTE ZMAX 2

(Price: $120; Amazon: $142)


Display5.5 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels
HardwareQualcomm Snapdragon 410 CPU, Adreno 306 GPU, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 64 GB
CameraMain: 8 MP, LED flash, Autofocus; Front: 2 MP
Battery3000 mAh, removable

Pros

  • Large screen
  • Very good battery

Cons

  • Low-resolution front camera

The main draw of the ZTE ZMAX 2 is undoubtedly its display, measuring at 5.5’ with a 720 x 1290 resolution. Its internals are standard fare for the price, but a nice surprise is the big 3,000 mAh battery, which is guaranteed to last enough for almost everyone. While the included version of Android is 5.1, itt can be updated via OTA to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The design is sleek, if a bit angular, and features a rugged back panel providing a somewhat better grip.

BLU Vivo XL

(Amazon: $150 | Review)


Display5.5 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels
HardwareMediaTek MT6753 CPU, Mali-T720 GPU, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 64 GB
CameraMain: 13 MP, LED flash, Autofocus; Front: 5 MP
Battery3150 mAh, removable

Pros

  • Pretty design
  • Large display
  • Very good battery

Cons

  • Low screen brightness

The most noticeable thing about the Vivo XL is certainly its striking looks – the front panel cleverly hides the large vertical bezels, while the back features a glossy mirror finish, making it one of the prettiest phones in the list. It's also a very thin and lightweight device, making it comfortable to hold. It also sports a very large battery, rated at 3150 mAh. The back camera has a 13 MP sensor, which performs well enough in bright conditions, but suffers in low-light ones. The screen is quite large at 5,5 inches, and has a 720p Super AMOLED panel. The included software has some useful features, and the latest OS version available is based on Android Marshmallow.

Alcatel Pixi 4 (6)

(Amazon: $150; Best Buy: $130)


Display6 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels
HardwareQualcomm Snapdragon 210 CPU, Adreno 304 GPU, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 64 GB
CameraMain: 8 MP, LED flash, Autofocus; Front: 5 MP, LED flash
Battery2580 mAh, removable

Pros

  • Very large screen
  • Good battery
  • Dual SIM card support

Cons

  • Underpowered

At 6 inches, this variant of the Pixi 4’s screen is quite impressive in size, though the 720p resolution is more noticeable as a result. The internals aren’t the best, with a weak processor and only 1 GB of RAM available, but this won't be a problem for most casual users. Out of the box, the device comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, a large, user-replaceable battery, and also has support for two SIM cards. The visual design is modest, but the back panel comes in one of several bright colors, which certainly shake up the phone's looks.

BLU Life One X2

(Amazon: $150)


Display5.2 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels
HardwareQualcomm Snapdragon 430 CPU, Adreno 505 GPU, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 64 GB
CameraMain: 16 MP, LED flash, Autofocus; Front: 8 MP, LED flash
Battery3000 mAh, non-removable

Pros

  • Good-looking design
  • Large battery
  • Full HD screen
  • Fingerprint sensor

Cons

  • Included software has a few problems

With the only 1080p screen on the list, the X2 impresses from the get-go. It comes in two separate versions, the $150 one of which sports the expected 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB onboard storage. The phone also features a fingerprint sensor and a large battery. The design is trendy but simple, with the aluminum back panel being colored in one of three available options. The rear camera has a 16 MP sensor, which is the highest resolution one on the list, and the phone also has two SIM card slots.

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8 Comments

1. WAusJackBauer

Posts: 455; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Moto G4 Play hasn't got Nougat yet?

3. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

It did for some, actulally! PA fix s

2. aman5mathur

Posts: 241; Member since: Mar 28, 2014

Umm i guess calling them "pocket friendly" would be better. Lol.

4. iushnt

Posts: 3097; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Yu Yureka Plus

5. Alpha1

Posts: 100; Member since: Jul 06, 2016

There is only one of those that supports all networks. The G4 Play.

6. civicsr2cool

Posts: 269; Member since: Oct 19, 2016

None of these are even phones lol they are phablets.

7. Moose

Posts: 418; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

Best cheap phones for use on US LTE networks is the real title of this post. Otherwise, they would name the Xiaomi Redmi 3S or Redmi 4 or other inexpensive Chinese phones. I paid $137 for the Redmi 3S Global, great 5 inch phone with 4100 mAh battery. No chinese apps or notifications on Global ROM. Works on LTE Band 7 with 4 carriers in Canada. Been using it for 2 months now, no problems! Wouldn't trade for any of the junk on this list.

8. Duncdawg26

Posts: 174; Member since: Jan 20, 2017

This the article I was hoping for, Thx PA :)

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