Google Pixel 5a Review: Verdict
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro introduce more significant changes to Google’s phone lineup, but the Pixel 5a is worth strong consideration if you want the Google software and camera experience for a lower price. Despite $449 being a $100 hike from last years phone, the Pixel 5a delivers almost everything that the $699 Pixel 5 managed, minus the 90Hz display, for $250 less.
The Pixel 5as claim to fame comes down to its cameras, and boy do they deliver. This phone runs laps around anything at this price, even the iPhone SE. Apples budget iPhone isnt a bad camera phone by any means, but the 5a is just better all around. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows that Pixels regularly feature in our picks for the best camera phones.
Despite the battery life not knocking my socks off, I really like the Pixel 5a. It does everything the Pixel 4a 5G did well for $50 less, and thats impressive. While people in other countries will feel left out that the Pixel 5a only ships in the U.S. and Japan, you should absolutely consider this phone if you want a top budget handset.
There are better phones that cost upwards of $1,000 or more, but I find it difficult to consider any of them to be as good of a value as the Pixel 5a.
These Are The Best Android Phones Under $100
There are many junk Android phones that you can buy in this $100 price range, but there are also many great ones, as proven in this article. Overall, the BLU VIVO X6 stands out as the best cheap Android phone we’ve found under that $100 threshold.
Every phone that you buy in this price tier is bound to come with compromises, but the BLU VIVO X6 makes the smartest ones so that you still end up with a thoroughly enjoyable Android experience. The display looks good, the performance is fast enough for daily use, there’s a decently sized battery, and you have expandable storage.
It has all the basics that you’d want from a quality smartphone, but BLU manages to take things a step further in a way that other companies don’t. Being able to buy a phone at a price like this with a modern style and good specs isn’t always the situation, but that’s precisely what you get with the BLU VIVO X6. If you’re willing to stretch your budget a little, we’ve gathered the best Android phones under $200.
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Take it out
Top 10 Best Budget Smartphones 2021 Summary
But not all high-value Android smartphones are quite up to par and some could legitimately be described as cheap in the pejorative sense. There are still plenty of differences and caveats to consider for those looking for a great experience that suits their individual needs. Given the sheer number of OEMs and devices to consider, choosing one can be a daunting task. Here at Android Headlines, we do a lot of research and reviews to help make the decision easier.
That doesnt mean that every device that deserves placement here is going to have earned it. Device evaluations are subjective and there are dozens upon dozens of devices to select from. A significant portion of those may suit any single users needs as well as the phones listed here.
With that in mind, heres our take on the top devices available to buy now. Each offers a great value to users that we feel surpasses all others without breaking the bank.
Below the summary, youll find a slightly longer description of each item along with the where to buy links.
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Samsung Galaxy A52 5g Review: Mid
I’m a firm believer in not overpaying for a quality smartphone experience. My favorite phone of 2020 wasn’t the Galaxy S20 or the OnePlus 8 Pro, it was the Pixel 4a. After years of the best cheap Android phones being phones that were just “good enough”, the last two years have given us budget phones that look, feel and perform far better than expected, and the bar has been similarly raised for the mid-range phones like the OnePlus Nord, the Galaxy S20 FE, and the Pixel 4a 5G.
Last year’s Galaxy A51 5G brought us power that the 4G versions of the A51 lacked and gave us bonafide 5G options without having to shell out flagship money. That made its sequel, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, one of the most anticipated phones of the year from a normal consumer standpoint, and Samsung has delivered. While there are places where the strings of its $500 price tag shine through, the Galaxy A52 5G is a great phone for the everyday user.
Design: All In The Family
- Gorilla Glass 5 front, polycarbonate sides/rear
- 159.9 x 75.1 x 8.4mm
- Awesome Black, Awesome White, Awesome Blue, Awesome Violet
The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is a tale of two phones: the outer and inner. Samsung wholly redesigned the A52 5Gs skin compared to the outgoing A51, but it carried over many of the specs from the previous generation. This leads us to wonder if its worth the upgrade or not.
Theres nothing subtle about the Galaxy A52 5G. It has fully adopted the design language seen on the Samsung Galaxy S21 and Note 20 series to complete the family picture. That means it has a straightforward look with a super-chunky camera module on the rear. The resemblance to its flagship siblings is obvious when you compare the family members to one another. Moreover, everything about the phone is bigger than its predecessor. Its taller, thicker, and heavier. Not by much, mind you, but by enough to notice.
One thing separates the A52 5G from its more expensive Galaxy S brethren: materials. Where the pricier models are metal and glass, the A52 5Gs rear is made of polycarbonate. Both the mid-frame and the rear panel are made from plastics and the front panel is covered in Gorilla Glass 5.
Samsung upgraded the A52 5G with official dust and water protection thanks to the IP67 rating. That’s a huge bonus over last year’s phone.
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Google Pixel 5a Price And Availability
Google released the Google Pixel 5a on August 26 in only two countries: the United States and Japan. Pricing is standard at $449 and ¥51,700. The unlocked Pixel 5a is compatible with all major American networks, but without mmWave 5G, it will not be able to use Verizon’s Ultra Wideband network, only sub6 5G and LTE 4G. The phone is only available domestically at the Google Store, it has not shown up at major retailers nor at carrier stores if you want the Pixel 5a, you need to buy directly from Google.
If you do not live in these two countries, the Google Pixel 4a 5G will continue to be sold in your market if it’s already on sale. We’ll talk more about the 4a 5G in the next section, but the cliff notes version for 4a 5G owners and non-Americans is: you’re not missing much here.
Best Overall: Google Pixel 4a
The Google Pixel is an easy selection for this Best Overall category because of two things software and camera. Being a pure Google phone, the Pixel 4a will be first in line to upgrade to Android 12. While it doesnt have the focal length versatility of more premium phones, the main camera here is flagship level and can go toe-to-toe against any main camera from phones two or three times its price.
Despite the Pixel 4as modest pricing, the phone has a flagship-level screen-to-body aspect ratio and a large battery that will last all day. Sure, the plastic build and only black color option leave it looking a bit drab, and this particular model doesnt support 5G. But this is a $350 phone with a camera and software experience that beat not just everything else on this list, but even phones that cost $1,000 or more.
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Best Features And Specs: Oneplus Nord N10
Last year, OnePlus released the OnePlus Nord, a mid-range phone with upper mid-tier specs, for the European market. For North Americans waiting their turn, they have the Nord N10, which is even cheaper at $299. The Nord N10 features a 6.49-inch FHD+ display with a 90Hz refresh rate, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 4,300mAh battery that supports OnePlus fast 30W charging.
The Snapdragon 690 processor here isnt going to blow anyones socks off, but its pretty serviceable and 5G ready. The main 64MP camera produces sharp and vibrant images, and theres a decent ultra-wide lens as well. Oh, and you get a headphone jack too.
Best Budget Gaming Smartphone
Screen size: 6.8″ | Resolution: 2,400 x 1,080 | CPU: Snapdragon 888+ | RAM:12GB | Storage:128GB | Battery: 5,050mAh | Rear camera: 64MP , 8MP , 2MP | Front cameras:8MP | OS:Android 11 | Size: 6.65″ x 3.04″ x 0.37″ | Weight:7.58 oz
While a lot of budget phones start to spread themselves thin trying to do everything, the Nubia RedMagic 6S Pro goes all-in on gaming. It’s truly astounding just how much is packed under the hood when seeing the price tag on this phone. The Nubia RedMagic 6S Pro packs in a Snapdragon 888+ chipset, and that’s pretty much the best you can find powering an Android phone right nowits also a slight upgrade from the Nubia RedMagic 6. And, it puts that power behind a bright, 6.8-inch AMOLED display that can run at a 165Hz refresh rate. If that weren’t enough, it’s topped off with an even faster 720Hz multi-touch sample rate.
That’s just the start of what this phone offers for gaming. On the right side, there are two touch-sensitive shoulder buttons that can be mapped as taps anywhere on the screen. This lets you simulate triggers in shooters or quickly and accurately access controls in other games. And, with a 5,050mAh battery, this phone can keep gaming for a while. Theres even an ICE 7.0 cooling system to keep everything running smoothly. Though you might miss out on a powerful camera system or the most polished software, you won’t miss out on gaming prowess.
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Best Smartphone Deals For December 2021
Do you need a new phone but dont want to spend much money? Smartphones succumb to wear and tear during years of use, even when we protect them with display shields and custom phone cases. While the best smartphones arent cheap, we can help you save some cash if its time for a new mobile. Weve gathered below all the best smartphone deals available this week that cover all the bases including , Samsung Galaxy deals, iPhone deals, 5G phone deals, and other bargains. Recently the major wireless carriers such as AT& T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have been offering subsidized phones for new customers, new lines, and even current users who want to upgrade to newer 5G phones. Weve not seen as many of this type of subsidized deal for several years. You win.
Best Budget Android Phones:
- Lacks water resistance
- Only available in one size option
Google didn’t change much about the Pixel 4a over its predecessor, the Pixel 3a. It kept the plastic body, the austere design, and the no-nonsense approach to Android. But what it did change, it improved on a wide scale: it’s faster, has more RAM and memory, a nicer display, and three additional years of Android platform and security updates to soothe even the most critical of users.
The Pixel 4a limits user choice, though: it only comes in in one storage variety, 128GB. Unfortunately, it’s also only available in one size, a 5.8-inch model that’s easy to hold and use in one hand.
Where the Pixel 4a excels is in the basics. Its 3,180mAh battery lasts all day, thanks to the power-sipping properties of its upgraded Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor. Its 5.8-inch OLED display goes edge-to-edge, with only the slightest hint of a bezel and a camera cutout near the top left. There’s only a single camera on the back, too, but that 12MP sensor combines with Google’s best-in-class post-processing for the best photos you’ll find in a phone at this price point. It’s so good. In fact, you’ll have a hard time telling the difference between photos produced on the Pixel 4a and those from the much more expensive Pixel 4.
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A Big Phone With Lots Of Features
One phone, so many features
Whether you want a vibrant display, lots of cameras, or Google Pay support on a budget? The TCL 20S does it all.
- No NFC
- Only one promised OS update
It can be challenging to keep track of all the value phones Motorola has in its lineup, but one that manages to stand out is the Moto G Stylus . Along with being one of the few Android phones that comes with a built-in stylus, it’s also just a perfect combination of specs, features, and value.
You’re getting a large 6.8-inch display for housing all of your media, and thanks to a Full HD+ resolution, everything looks excellent. There’s also ample performance thanks to the Snapdragon 678 processor, along with 128GB of built-in storage and a large 4,000 mAh battery. Given the low price of the G Stylus, these are all powerful specifications.
As the name implies, the main draw to the Moto G Stylus is its built-in stylus experience. It’s certainly not the most premium stylus we’ve ever used, but it works well enough for drawing, note-taking, etc. It can also be stored seamlessly at the bottom of the phone when you aren’t using it, which is a nice touch that ties the whole experience together.
Just like the Moto G Power , you’re still missing NFC on the Moto G Stylus and need to put up with Motorola’s disappointing software updates. However, if those aren’t deal-breakers for you, there’s a lot to like here.
Other Products We Considered
The all-day battery life, 128GB of storage, edge-to-edge immersive screen, and iconic S Pen of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 come together to make one genuinely impressive Android phone. Were wowed by its wide range of camera features, expandable memory, and powerful performance. Notably, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a bit on the pricey side.
Amazon and T-Mobile have teamed up to present the LG Stylo 4, which features an eye-catching curved screen, intuitive stylus controls, an attractive Full HD display, and high-speed autofocus for capturing the remarkably good pictures for a budget phone. One of its most interesting Amazon-specific features is QLens, which allows users to scan objects to quickly learn if they are available for purchase on Amazon.
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Best Endurance: Moto G Power
Thanks to the absence of Chinese budget brands such as Redmi and Realme in the US, Motorola has enjoyed a relatively unrivaled run as a top option for reasonable budget Android phones, and the Moto G Power continues that trend although Samsung is bringing good competition. For around $250, you get a 6.4 inch screen with decently thin bezels and a large 5,000 mAh battery. The processor , RAM , and camera performances fall short of other phones on this list, but theyre all still serviceable. The lack of NFC support could be a dealbreaker for those who use Google Pay, however.
On the software front, Motorolas software is about as close to the Pixel 4as clean Android experience as you can get, aside from some additional Moto software features like arguably the best Always-On Display on the market. Overall, the Moto G Power is a worthy option for those who value battery life and clean software above all else.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5g Compromises Compromises
Look, to get a 5G phone sold down to $500 with this high-quality build and internals requires some compromises. The Snapdragon 750G is mostly a solid chip that performs well in whatever primary app is on-screen, but you’ll notice an extra second or two when switching between apps. I’m not sure how much of this is due to the overly-aggressive closing of background apps on One UI 3.1 and how much is due to the processor with 6GB of RAM, I know memory is not the problem but it’s here and unless you’re an app-switching fiend like me, it’s probably fine.
This screen is made for the great indoors .
What’s less fine is how quickly this screen gets blown out outdoors. I mean, my screen standards are pretty low, but less than an hour outside in the Florida sunshine shocked me with how washed it looked, especially compared to my Pixel 4a, a display that itself doesn’t get all that bright. I’m a “dark mode everything all the time” girl, and I had to disable it just to try and read the screen while walking around EPCOT. Inside, in full shade, or around sunset, the screen looks nice and vibrant, but if you spend a great amount of time outdoors, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Galaxy A52 5G and Pixel 4a screens at max brightness in the shade
The other letdown here is that 5G compatibility is limited to sub-6. Granted, I wasn’t expecting there to be UWB support here considering even the Galaxy S21 didn’t get it, but mmWave would have been very nice to see.
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