Best Smartphones for the Cash - December 2017

Just in time for holiday shopping, here is a list of some of the best smartphone deals within a given price range.
Given the gap since the last article, there have been some major changes with new releases and major price drops. As usual, these prices are for unlocked, direct sale units.

Sub $150

Moto E Plus (4th Generation) - At about $135 with current holiday sale pricing, you will be hard pressed to find this combo of 5.5” HD screen, removable battery, quad core CPU, microSD card slot and a fingerprint reader. As usual with the Moto E line, you get a lot for a surprising price. Considering Moto’s history with updates this is a worthwhile consideration for anyone trying to get a lot for less. There is also a 32GB built-in storage version for close to $200.


Huawei Honor 6X - New to the list this time around is the Honor 6X. Currently at just less than $190 this is another phone that gives a lot for its price. With this you get a 5.5” HD display, a fingerprint sensor on the back, 8 core CPU, 32GB of storage, 3GB of RAM and a dual lens camera sensor in the back that work in conjunction for fast focus times and wide aperture range. Also important to note is the large for its price range 3340mAh battery which should yield excellent battery.


The mid range phone market is a more contested space with some great options to choose from:

Moto G Plus (5th Generation) [32GB /2GB of RAM]
For $230 you can get a Phone with a 5.2” HD display. Even though this is the lowest storage version available, there is a price premium for the 64GB/4GB-RAM version that pushes it almost out of this category.

Xperia XA1 -
At $250, this unit has become a better deal in the category for those looking for a top tier smartphone camera. For this price you get a choice of 4 colors and 32GB of storage with an microSD card slot. The best part of this package is the 23MP sensor that was found only on Sony’s high end phone’s just a year ago.


Moto Z2 Play - This recently released can be found for $350-$400 depending on the carrier version and included storage, and if continues the Moto Mod support started with the first Moto Z. As with the previous unit you get a 5.5” AMOLED display and a 3.5mm headphone jack that is slowly becoming rare on some phone lines. With up to 64GB of included storage, it iss a decent option for power users who like the Moto Mod options.

Sony Xperia XZ - Now entering the $400 range for this list is the Xperia XZ. With the Premium and XZs now the main focus, the price has dropped even further for what is still a top tier phone as far as specs are concerned. With this unit you can get the international model with Dual SIM slot, 64GB of storage with microSD slot, and a functional fingerprint reader [disabled in the USA version due to corporate politics, best to buy the international model].

Above $400 is the top tier category for most manufacturers, these are merely suggestions for those looking in this category.

Essential Phone - Now down to $499, this phone is excellently priced for its specifications. This company is new to the smartphone scene. It has a strong pedigree being head by Andy Rubin who co-founder both Danger Inc(Sidekick phones) and Android Inc. As can be expected with a founder of Android at the helm, the OS on this phone is extremely close to stock Android with the only changes being made to accommodate the unique close to edge screen and the add module port in the back of the phone. Even more extreme than the S8, this phone pushes the boundaries of how far to the edge a screen can extend. With top tier processor, a QHD display, and 128GB of storage, this is a hard option to ignore for any person looking for a clean Android experience on a cutting edge phone.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium - For about $600-700 (varies slightly based on color, and region) you get Sony’s high end device. With a 5.5” 4k/Ultra-HD display and 64GB of built in storage with microSD slot it is hard to beat. Add in the 19MP camera that can capture 960 frames per second for slow motion video shots and you have something that not only displays well, but captures content to put that display to good use. As usual with Sony devices I recommend international editions as the USA model has the fingerprint reader software disabled due to corporate politics.

Samsung Galaxy S8 - For those that are fans of the Samsung line of devices, the current flagship can be had for about $650. The new screen with slim bezels is a welcome departure from previous units which had still held onto the physical button under the screen of the device.