After several hours of research and careful review of the most popular models in all price ranges, I made my selection of 8 smartphones that are the best value for money in the current market.
My preference is the OnePlus 6T, which combines design, performance and autonomy able to compete with some smartphones to more than 1000$ for a price that remains frankly correct. But I admit that in amateur of Samsung, I also have a small crush on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
I invite you to consult my guide at the end of the article to determine the essential options for your future smartphone, all in a budget that suits you personally.
If you have a tight budget but you do not want to be made by choosing a low-end smartphone, I have selected 3 models that, for less than 350$, offer quite respectable performance.
Very good autonomy
Willingness to reduce the overlay
The first model of my selection is, without much astonishment, proposed by Xiaomi, known for its strong penetration of the low cost smartphone market. But what says low cost does not necessarily say poor quality and, from this point of view, the Chinese manufacturer is well known for its excellent quality / price ratio.
Released in the summer of 2018, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro has been touted as the successor to the excellent Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, with which it has many similarities.
Design side, first of all. Despite its low price it incorporates a matte metal back shell, which has the advantage of not retaining fingerprints, and gives a robust appearance to the smartphone.
Easy to handle with its 6.26 inch screen, rounded edges and excellent edge / screen ratio, you can almost use it with one hand. By cons, if I have to find a lack of ergonomics, it is in the placement of its fingerprint sensor, located on the back. If it is well placed to fall easily under the index, it represents in my opinion the disadvantage of not being usable if you put the smartphone on a support (by car, for example).
Its full HD screen offers a very nice display, although I recommend you to play on the parameters, and in particular to select the color mode “hot” to get a well-calibrated colorimetry. And since it has a good contrast and excellent brightness (both low and high light), it has almost no difficulty of readability to the sun.
Component level, it integrates a Snapdragon 636 processor. And concerning the RAM, it depends on the model you choose. It is possible to have a version 3 GB of RAM coupled with 32 GB of internal memory (version that I present to you here) or a version with 4 GB of RAM combined with an internal memory of 64 GB. But even with “only” 3 GB of RAM the device is very responsive, has no problem of fluidity, and allows to run properly a large part of the games in the PlayStore.
By cons, if you are a fan of 3D games – more greedy – I recommend you opt for the 4GB version of RAM. Anyway, do not make the decision based on the internal memory (32 GB against 64), since the smartphone has a Micro-SD slot allowing you to expand its memory.
Level photo, it takes the same concept as the Redmi Note 5, which proposed a dual sensor on the back: one of 12 MP and the other 5 MP, the second being supposed to reinforce the first in case of bass light (a point that is often lacking in lowcost smartphones).
And, honestly, it works pretty well. In full light, the colorimetry is faithful, and the level of detail is quite high. In low light, of course, this is another story, with a digital noise that is very present, but it is rather correct compared to what is generally seen in this price range.
The front sensor, if it goes from 13 Mpx to 20 Mpx, is still disappointing, with a rendering still very smooth. It does improve a bit if you disable all the “beauty filters”, which, oddly, are enabled by default …
At the video level, the Note 6 Pro includes an electronic stabilizer, which improves anything rendering compared to what is usually achieved with smartphones in this price range. Recording in Full HD is therefore correct in bright conditions (but you will not get anything conclusive in low light).
Autonomy, on the other hand, is one of its strong points: thanks to its battery of 4000 mAh, it allows to reach almost 20 hours in “normal” use (a little call, a little surf, a little bit of game, etc.). This is frankly honorable compared to what we see today and, by sparing it a little, you can easily recharge it only once every two days. An amazing point is that the charging is done by Micro-USB and not USB-C. Too bad, with a device so recent it would have been welcome.
Android level, it currently runs on Android 8.1 with the overlay MIUI 10, and we see a willingness of Xiaomi to lighten a little overlay, even if the Redmi Note 6 Pro always has a series of preinstalled applications most of which of us are probably going very well.
In the end, with the Redmi Note 6 Pro, we have an improved version of Note 5 which was already an excellent value for money, and this for a budget that does not move almost.
Ratio edge / screen not optimized
The Nokia 6.1 is the 2018 version of the Nokia 6, with which the brand had marked its willingness to get back into the race of low cost smartphone quality. And the result is at the rendezvous.
On the design side, it is very elegant, with its metal shell and the slight gold edging that surrounds it, although I personally find that with its projecting slab and sharp angles, its edge / screen ratio is less optimized and spoil the whole thing.
The 5.5 “screen offers a Full HD definition. Below, there is a Snapdragon 630 processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of memory, with of course a Micro-SD port allowing you to expand its memory. And despite its low price, it ships an NFC chip (to make your payments without contact) and it offers a USB-C connection (which unfortunately remains very rare in this price range).
Performance level, the management of the tasks is rather well optimized. Of course, at this price and with this RAM we know that it is not designed for games, but its performance is sufficient to ensure a certain fluidity, even on the most greedy games.
This is most likely, in part, related to the fact that the Nokia 6.1 has the Android One label. That is to say ? This is a label given by Google that certifies that the smartphone has the latest security updates, is protected by Google Play Protect and is not modified by the manufacturer.
This allows you to have a less invasive overlay, less burdensome (a minimalist Android experience somehow possible), but also to have a much faster deployment of the latest Android updates.
The autonomy, it is rather correct, even if it does not break bricks. The 3000mAh will not last much more than 15 hours in “normal” use, which is not bad.
The camera offers a satisfactory result, with 16Mpx and a well calibrated colorimetry. The general quality is correct in daylight, but in low light the colors become slobbery and the whole lack of contrast. In short, nothing surprising in this price range, even if the result is rather correct given what is sometimes done to the competition. In selfie mode, there is a kind of overexposure of the subject in relation to the back plane, which allows to obtain a large number of details but offers an unnatural rendering.
In conclusion, the Nokia 6.1 is an option to frankly consider if you do not have a big budget. If it is not the best in its class, in terms of overall performance, it nevertheless has the significant advantage of integrating Android One, for a welcome return to simplicity.
Honor Play : a low cost model for gamers
As you might guess from her name, with the Play model, Honor tackles the market for mobile gaming enthusiasts.
Design level, if Honor did not go to the side of originality, it’s rather elegant, with a matte metal coating that does not catch fingerprints. The 6.3-inch Full HD screen is quite well optimized at the edge / screen ratio. It has a very good contrast and brightness, which makes it easy to read even in direct sunlight.
On the other hand, again, the fingerprint reader is at the back. But if it bothers you, know that it is also equipped with facial recognition system, although this feature is highly dependent on the light conditions on this smartphone.
In terms of components, it stands out from its competitors in the same price range by integrating a processor Kirin 970, one of the most powerful on the market that, combined with its 4 GB of RAM, allow it to offer excellent performance for everyday use as well as playing with all current games.
And if it includes an internal memory of 64 GB, it is expandable via the Micro-SD port, which is optimal if you like to collect the games you play (or have played).
By cons, if it turns out very good for the practice of games, it is more discreet photo. The colors are saturated and often tend towards fluo in full light. And in low light, the electronic noise is really invasive. In short, if you plan to take souvenir photos with your smartphone, go your way on the Honor Play. In selfie mode, artist-style smoothing of K-Pop is inevitable.
Video side, if it can record in UHD, I recommend you to limit yourself to Full HD, where the results will be much more usable.
Side autonomy, it is not left behind, with its 3760 mAh battery offering a little over 16 hours of use, placing it between its competitors Nokia and Xiaomi. The recharge, it is via USB-C!
In the end, I definitely recommend this smartphone to fans of mobile games that do not have a big budget and for which the photo quality does not matter.
Most users should find happiness in this section. Without breaking the bank for the latest high-performance smartphone, here are three models that combine hardware quality, display quality, performance, endurance, and photo quality.
Admittedly, they will never be excellent in all areas, but they constitute a significant balance that makes smartphones value for money really attractive.
OnePlus 6T : the best mid-range
Photo quality including low light
Improbable fingerprint sensor
Released in the fall of 2018, the OnePlus 6T is the second version of the 6, which corrects some flaws.
So I know we are making a jump in prices compared to the previous section, but since this smartphone even has what compete with some models over 1000 €, it’s frankly “cheap”!
Design side, again, nothing new on the market, but it works: impeccable finishes, clean lines. The 6GB version is only offered with a shiny black glass shell, but if you go to the 8GB, you can also opt for a matte black glass or a purple glossy glass (my favorite!).
With its Oled 6.4 inch screen, you can forget the one-handed manipulation, but the ratio of edges to screen is well optimized, so you can do a lot of things with one hand.
Moreover, we must admit that the technology embedded by the fingerprint sensor has a mouth! On the other hand, I reproach him for being a little capricious. But if you pair it with facial recognition – which is pretty awesome – there’s no need to unlock your smartphone very quickly.
The screen, it, displays a flawless colorimetry, even by default. The brightness and contrasts are excellent, as the management of anti-reflective, which allows you a…