Top 10 Apple and Android smartphones you can buy for under $400

Although the prices of high-end smartphone like the Galaxy Note 9 and iPhone XS Max continue to balloon upwards, it’s actually become easier than ever to find yourself a good-value smartphone for a third or even a fifth of that..

Sure, you have to be willing to make some compromises when it comes to camera and processing power. But, in terms of the overall experience and features involved, buying a mid-tier and budget smartphone (that doesn’t suck) is much easier than it used to be.

If our round-up of the best Apple and Android smartphones you can find for under $600 and $700 wasn’t good enough for you, here’s our latest list of the top 10 best Android and Apple phones you can find for under $400.

Note - we use real-world prices sourced from Shopbot and, as such, some of the entries in our roundup may surprise you.

1. Nokia 6 ($399 RRP, $379 on Amazon)

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Though it could perhaps be branded as the most typical iteration in HMD Global’s current product lineup, the new Nokia 6 (also known as the Nokia 6.1) also happens to be one of the best. It features a Snapdragon 630 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 3000mAh battery and 32GB of on-board storage, which is expandable via MicroSD slot.

In our review of the Nokia 6, we said that “if you’re not interested in the company’s flagship offerings and happy to settle when it comes to the camera, the Nokia 6 might be one of the slickest, polished and overall best-value Android handsets you can get for $399. It’s the first mid-tier handset we’ve reviewed since Huawei’s Nova 2i that gives the latter a real run for its money and potentially the most compelling component of HMD’s 2018 Nokia lineup to date.”

2. Sony Xperia XZ ($999 RRP, $379 Actual)

Credit: Sony Mobile

Though it lacks some of the lustre found in its Premium variant, the Sony Xperia XZ can still be considered to be a fairly modern flagship. It runs on a Snapdragon 820 processor, 3GB of RAM and comes with a hefty 23-megapixel rear camera. The Sony Xperia XZ also boasts a 5.2-inch full HD curved display and an IP68 rating against water and dust damage.

In our full review of the Sony Xperia XZ, we said that “it’s not a built-from-the-ground up innovative device designed to wow people that we’ve come to expect from premium phones. In many ways it’s an upgraded Xperia Z but with effort-levels stemming from the disappointing, recent X series.”

3. Moto Z ($699 RRP, $395 Actual)

Credit: Motorola

The Moto Z was Motorola’s first effort at offering a flagship Android smartphone that connected to the company’s Moto Mod ecosystem at accessories. It does come with a few drawbacks, such as the absence of a headphone jack. However, there’s still a lot to like here - and doubly so at the price. It’s also completely compatible with even the most recent additions to the MotoMod ecosystem.

As we said in our review of the device at launch, “Let’s be real here: The Moto X was a great line of smartphones, but never particularly exemplary. The Moto Z, on the other hand, is the Lexus to the Moto X’s Toyota: It’s a sturdy, confidence-inspiring device that promises extra bits of luxury. In the Moto Z’s case, those luxury promises are the Moto Mods.”

4. Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 ($349 RRP, $298 on Amazon)

Credit: Xiaomi

Though Xiaomi isn’t officially a brand that you can buy in Australia, like OnePlus, there are plenty of places out there for those willing to import. And if you’re looking for a value-driven reason to start, it’s hard to look past the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5. The phablet runs on a Snapdragon 636 paired with 3GBs of RAM and Android 8.0 with MIUI 9.

In our review of the Redmi Note 5, we said that “Between the solid material design and build-quality, performance that swings above its price-bracket and slick software experience, the Redmi Note 5 is a smartphone that’s very easy to recommend. What’s more, even with the usual caveats surrounding importing smartphones, it’s priced low-enough that, should you be looking for a low-risk introduction to the Xiaomi brand, this is probably the place to start.”

5. Motorola Moto X4 ($699 RRP, $392 on Amazon)

Credit: Motorola

For the last few years, buying a top-of-the-line Motorola handset has meant buying into their MotoMod ecosystem. The Moto X4 sidesteps this. It’s premium hardware paired with one of the best cameras that Motorola have ever stuck in a smartphone.

As we said in our review of the device, “there’s nothing truly wrong with it, but there’s also little eye-catching about the Moto X4 aside from its ultra-reflective aesthetics. It’s a phone that’s sort-of inevitably defined by the absence of MotoMods rather than the advances it makes when it comes to the camera side of things.”

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6. HTC U Ultra ($699 RRP, $360 actual)

Credit: HTC U Ultra

Though it launched with a price-tag that originally rivalled Samsung’s Galaxy flagships, the HTC U Ultra smartphone can now be had for a price closer to budget buys like the Alcatel 1X and Nokia 3.1. It boasts the same curved liquid glass design that’s found in most modern flagship devices like the HTC U11 and HTC U12+, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, a 5.7-inch display and a 12-megapixel rear camera.

In our review of the HTC U Ultra, we said that “HTC's flagship phone brings some interesting features to the top of the market including great looks and 24-bit audio.”

7. Oppo R9S ($698 RRP, $319 Actual)

Credit: Oppo

Though it lacks some of the modern conveniences and photography chops of the R11S and R15 Pro, the Oppo R9S is still a device that’s well worth looking at if you want a good smartphone for under $400.

As we said in our review, “It’s hard to find a flaw in this Oppo. Usually, these phones impress us heavily in some areas (especially value) but have a flaw(s) which lets them down. The R9s Plus has no significant flaws: it does everything well. It might not lead the market at any one thing, but it’s near the top for everything.”

8. Sony Xperia XA2 ($549 RRP, $365 Actual)

Credit: Sony Mobile

If you’re the kind of smartphone user who just wants something that’ll get the job done and isn’t too fussed by modern quirks like face unlock and the like, the Xperia XA2 is absolutely still a device worth more than a look.

As we said in our review, “If you’re not turned off by Sony’s OmniBalance design language and into the idea of using your next phone for phone stuff and not a whole lot else, the Xperia XA2 is priced just well enough to make it worth consideration.”

9. Oppo AX5 ($379 RRP, $278 on Amazon)

Credit: Oppo

The Oppo AX5 isn’t quite as powerful as the R9S, but it does come with a few more cutting-edge features and - at the time of writing - will probably cost you about the same amount.

The new entry-level device boasts an AI enhanced dual camera, fast facial unlock, a 4230mAh battery and 6.2 inch super full screen. Under the hood, the AX5 is equipped with a Qualcomm Octa-core CPU, 4GB RAM and 64GB ROM.

As we said in our review of the device, “There are better and cheaper phones out there than the Oppo AX5. However, if you’re looking for that classic Oppo blend of long battery, snappy performance and low-price - this device subscribes to that formula and yields some particularly strong results.”

10. Huawei GR5 ($400 RRP, $329 Actual)

Credit: Huawei

In addition to eroding the power of Samsung in the premium space, Huawei have been fast making ground in the cheaper, budget-friendly segments of the smartphone market. The Huawei GR5 is a great example of why. 

In our review of the Huawei GR5, we said that “If you want the ability for high-end photography on a phone but can’t run to the more-expensive models, then this is a great choice. Even if you don’t use the camera it’s a great phone at just $400. Different variants are available in different markets (more and less expensive models with 4GB and 2GB RAM) but this 3GB model makes for a good sweet spot.”

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