With Apple’s next big September event looming, the eyes of the tech world, not to mention consumers looking to upgrade, are on what new iPhones the company will introduce.
Those of you looking for a new iPhone should, for any number of reasons, wait until then. But what about Android users? You should likely wait, too, if only to see the deals the other companies offer in response.
If you can’t wait, however, you should know that there are plenty of great options available, particularly in some of last year’s top phones.
The bargain deal
One of the big benefits of Android devices is their affordability. Whereas Apple’s new iPhones generally start above $600, a number of capable Android phones are priced well below that price.
Motorola’s Moto X4 is one such phone. At $299.99 unlocked (or $249.99 if you have Amazon Prime), it offers a large 5.2-inch HD display, has dual cameras on the back, fast charging, water resistance and comes with 32GB of built-in storage. It works on any of the four major wireless carriers.
While it was released last year, its Qualcomm 630 processor is still solid, and Motorola has a good track record of updating its phones. The company has already promised to update the phone to the latest version of Android, called Pie, this fall.
One other plus: The X4 still has a headphone jack.
Runner-up: Now as low as $309.07 on Amazon, last year’s Essential Phone is an interesting option. It has a faster processor than the X4, a sharper 5.71-inch screen and 128GB of storage. While it lacks the X4’s water resistance and headphone jack, it does have a beautiful edge-to-edge display (with a small notch for the front-facing camera) that rivals the iPhone X.
While the phone didn’t do much to distinguish itself from the iPhone or Galaxy at its initial price of $749.99, at this level, it’s a compelling choice. As for why it doesn’t push the Moto X4 out of the recommended list? The company has struggled, its very survival is up in the air. It was said to be up for sale earlier this year.
For now, though, Essential is still around and is even one of the first phone makers to roll out Android Pie to its phones.
The best value
When it comes to value, the OnePlus 6 is currently the best mix of price and performance. With the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, a modern 2018 design with a 6.28-inch edge-to-edge display (with a notch), solid cameras, headphone jack and 64GB of storage make for an all around, speedy and impressive device that stacks up nicely to Apple and Samsung’s latest.
At a starting price of $529 unlocked (a model with more RAM and 128GB of storage is $50 more, one with 256GB of storage is $629), it also is significantly cheaper than those phones.
Yes, it has drawbacks such as no wireless charging, headphone jack or water resistance. And as with earlier OnePlus phones, carrier support is limited to AT&T, U.S. Cellular or T-Mobile’s networks. But for those who want to save money and get a top-of-the-line device, the OnePlus 6 is hard to beat.
Runner-up: Samsung’s Galaxy S8 may not have the improved camera and processor of the latest Galaxy S9, but it still is a great phone. On Samsung’s site, you can get it for between $450 and $672 (the price varies based on carrier discounts).
The S8 has an impressive 5.8-inch edge-to-edge display, water resistance, great cameras, headphone jack, as well as wireless charging.
The phone is slower and its camera doesn’t do all the same fancy tricks as its S9 successor. But it costs $120 less, making it one of the best deals for those looking to get a Samsung phone and still save money.
The iPhone XS Max competitors
With Apple rumored to be introducing the iPhone XS Max, an iPhone with a massive 6.5-inch screen, those looking for a monster-sized Android option should consider the Samsung Galaxy S9+ and Note9.
The two phones are fairly comparable. Each has a similar water-resistant design with massive, edge-to-edge displays, the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processors and Samsung’s improved camera optics for low-light pictures. Both also feature wireless charging, headphone jacks and support for the latest 4G LTE networks.
What’s different? The S9+ has a 6.2-inch display compared to the Note9’s 6.4-inch screen and starts at 64GB of storage as opposed to 128GB. The Note9 also adds support for Samsung’s S Pen stylus and has a larger battery.
Both phones are some of the best Android devices on the market today, with the biggest difference between the two devices coming down to price. Like the iPhone X, the Note 9 is expensive with starting price of $999.99.
The S9+, while not as jam-packed feature-wise, at $839.99 it is around $160 cheaper than the Note9. Both phones get a bit more affordable if you’re willing to trade in your old phone, assuming it’s in relatively good condition.
But if you’re looking for the best Android phone currently out there, it is hard to top Samsung’s latest.
The new iPhones aren’t the only new smartphones coming this fall. In addition to Samsung’s recently released Note9, a few other companies are rumored to be introducing new phones in the not-too-distant future.
Most notable amongst this group is Google, which according to numerous leaks will be introducing updated versions of its Pixel line of phones at its event on October 9. Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have been splattered all over the internet in recent weeks, most recently with the XL variant popping up in the back of a Lyft.
Google’s Pixel devices are known for their excellent cameras, fast updates to new versions of Android and all-around impressive performance. The biggest change expected on this new model is a redesign on the XL to include an edge-to-edge display with a notch and dual front cameras.
If it weren’t for the new devices’ imminent arrival, the Pixel 2 XL would be one of the recommended options alongside the Galaxy Note9 and S9+.
Beyond Google, new phones are also rumored to be coming from OnePlus and Samsung, which is said to be announcing a foldable phone later this year. RED, the popular high-end camera, also will be selling a “holographic” smartphone on Verizon and AT&T this year, though how well the phone will work remains to be seen.
Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal
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