When the budget goes up to $400 you want to invest your money on the best device which can go along for several years without breaking a sweat. Phones under this budget have all the features an average user would want. So if you are spending $400 for a phone you are definitely expecting more than the average specs and features.
Different people have different demands and different expectations from a smartphone and there is no perfect smartphone out there especially under this budget. So we will do our best to list the best unlocked phones under $400 among which you can choose the best device which suits you.
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The purpose of this post is not just to describe a phone’s specs. It’s rather pointless to compare the specs only, we will look at how the phone perform in the real world, whats good and whats bad about a particular phone. We will also see if a phone satisfy your needs and will also look at the best alternative to that phone. The phones listed here are not in any particular order, every phone has its own drawbacks so we leave it up to you to decide which one is the best for you. Although we listed all the latest and best phones only.
The OnePlus’s third flagship device OnePlus 3 brings a lot of changes and improvements from its predecessor OnePlus 2. The new OnePlus 3 comes with a metal body, unlike its predecessors. This is probably one the best phone under this budget.
It comes with a 3000mAh battery and it supports Dash charging. The screen resolution wasn’t bumped to QHD to have a better battery life. Although, the battery life of this phone is not impressing but its not bad too. With heavy usage OnePlus 3′ s battery struggle to last for a day while it was able to achieve 3.5 hours of on screen time.
On another hand, the Dash charging can charge the phone up to 60% in just half an hour. So, even if the phone’s battery is running low the Dash charging technology will help it charge enough to last until the end of the day.
Once again the company decided to stick with 5.5-inch size and a Full HD display instead of a QHD display but this time they decided to use an AMOLED panel which is a great thing. The Full HD display of this phone performs well and you won’t notice much difference from a QHD display for daily use unless you are watching high-resolution media.
With AMOLED display the phone comes with always-on display feature. The software lets you customize the color temperature of the display and also has a night mode feature which will helpful in dark conditions. The dark mode in this phone will also help you to save some battery as it uses AMOLED display.
The comes with a 16MP camera with an aperture of f/2.0 on the back and on the front, it comes with 8MP camera with an aperture of f/2.0. The camera supports Optical Image Stabilization and phase detection autofocus. The actual camera performance is not as impressing as the phone’s camera interface. Inconsistence color saturation and average low light performance can be seen as it has a slower shutter speed.
The camera app, on the other hand, has a good interface, the manual mode of the app give you a lot of options like for adjusting the white balance and shutter speed with a slider. One of the best features in Manual mode is the ability to set the exposure point first and then to drag the middle, to adjust the focal point.
OnePlus 3 is packed with the same specs as other flagships out there. It is powered by Snapdragon 820 processor coupled with an Adreno 530 GPU and 64GB of non-expandable storage. The performance of this device is quite smooth. The best unique thing about this phone is that it come with a massive 6GB of RAM.
On the software front, it comes with Oxygen OS which gives you a stock Android like experience and some more additional customization options and no bloatware. OnePlus 3 scores 141955 in the AnTuTu Benchmark which is higher than the Galaxy S7.
OnePlus is the best phone which you can buy under this budget for your daily needs whether its gaming, using the internet or for media. The only thing that is missing is a QHD display which is not necessary for day to day usage, it totally depends on user’s need.
ZTE – Axon 7
Last year ZTE has launched the Axon phone to capture more attention in the U.S. market by providing flagship like premium features for an affordable price. With Azon 7, ZTE took a step ahead by bringing many improvements from its predecessor.
The Axon 7 comes with a 3250mAh battery which might not seem enough for a phone with such a high-end specs. But the battery life of this phone is very impressive, it gives about 5 hours of on screen time and it lasts for a full day under heavy usage.
The battery life of this phone is similar to what we can see on Galaxy S7 and that is a great deal of the price you are paying for. Also, the phone supports Quick Charging 3.0 to charge your phone quickly.
While OnePlus 3 has compromised on the screen resolution, ZTE decided to have a Quad HD 5.5 AMOLED screen on Axon 7 without compromising the battery life. As a result, the display is sharp while having great color reproduction with good contrast level and viewing angle.
The display is great for high-quality media experience and VR ready.
The phone comes with a 20MP f/1.8 camera on the back with Optical Image Stabilization and Phase Detection autofocus. The camera does quite good in good lighting and images are sharp, detailed with good contrast and accurate color reproduction. But it doesn’t always set exposure correctly and some images look a bit washed out.
The 8MP camera on the front also performs well. Overall this phone gives a good camera experience.
Similar to most flagship phones, the Axon 7 is also powered by Snapdragon 820 processor coupled with an Adreno 530 GPU. It comes with a 4GB of RAM which is quite enough for heavy multi-tasking. The day-to-day performance of the phone was very smooth. It comes with a 64GB of internal storage with an expandable storage option up to 256GB and dual-SIM capability which works with all major carriers in the United States.
Axon 7 runs on MiFavor UI 4.0 (Android Marshmallow 6.0.1) and it has a stock Android theme available. The software experience is near to stock Android with some additional modification.
The Axon 7 can be said as the real “flagship killer” and it beats one of its competitor OnePlus 3 which has disappointed with few things. While Axon 7 manages to provide quite a lot for its price with fewer compromises. This phone is great for day-to-day usage, gaming, and it gives a great media experience with its dual front-facing speakers and QHD AMOLED screen.
Huawei Honor 8
Huawei released Honor 5X earlier this year under the $200 budget segment. Now they took a step further to launch an affordable flagship device with the Honor 8.
Honor 8 packs a 3000mAh non-removable battery. The battery was able to last for a day on light to moderate usage while on heavy usage the phone need to be charged one or twice a day to keep up the juice. On the other hand, the phone was able to achieve 3.5 hours of on screen time which is quite decent.
The phone supports 9V/2A charging which helps it to get charged from 0 to 40% in 30 mins which quite decent for the price it offers.
The phone comes with a 5.2 Full HD LTPS display, which looks good with saturated and punchy colors, however, the display’s temperature is very cool but it can be adjusted trough the phone settings itself.
It comes with a 12MP dual-camera on the back with an aperture of f/2.2 and hybrid autofocus. One lens captures color while the other is monochrome and this setup helps to capture crisper looking images. The phone manages to take a picture with good contrast, excellent dynamic range and a good amount of sharpness. It has a great camera overall.
Honor 8 is powered but its own in-house processor, the HiSilicon Kirin 950 and it offers comparable performance to the well known Snapdragon 820 processor. It includes 4GB of RAM and the performance is smooth and smooth multitasking experience. The phone’s Mali-T880 MP4 GPU performance well while playing games but it may not be as future proof as Adreno GPUs.
The Honor 8 packs most things an affordable flagship can offer. The design of the phone is gorgeous, a smaller sized and has a dual camera setup. However, there are some better options under this budget, so, its all up to you on what you would spend for.
Xiaomi Mi 5
Xiaomi is known for bringing the most affordable smartphones at different price ranges which give a tough competition to other popular brands out there. The”Mi” lineup is Xiaomi’s flagship lineup, this year they have launched Mi5 for a much cheaper price as compared to other flagship devices out there.
The Mi5 packs in a 3000mAh high-density battery, the battery life of this phone is excellent. With light usage, the phones easily managed to last up to a day while the battery life of Mi5 slightly outperforms that of Galaxy S7. Also, the phone supports Quick Charge 3.0 which will help the phone to fill up the battery quite faster.
The phone comes with smaller 5.15inch IPS LCD display and just like OnePlus 3 the company decided to stick with a Full HD resolution and the decision does make sense considering the size of the screen.
The display on this phone is great, the colors are vibrant and saturated with deep blacks, good contrast, and great viewing angles.
On the back, the phone has a 16MP f/2.0 Sony camera and a dual LED flash on the right of the camera. Images captured in a good light have a good amount of dynamic range with lots of detail and sharpness, the color reproduction was also good.
However, the camera quality in low-light condition is quite disappointing , the quality is pretty average when compared to other flagship devices.
Just like other flagship phones out there, the Mi5 comes with a Snapdragon 820 processor coupled with an Adreno 530 GPU and a 3 or 4GB of RAM. The performance in this device is powerful thanks to its processor and it also performance quite well while playing high-end games.
This is overall a great phone with beautiful design, excellent performance, great display and good battery life. However, this phone is not available in the US officially through you can get this phone through eBay and other websites. Good for daily usage, gaming, and multimedia.
Samsung – Galaxy S6 Edge
A bit old device but still worth considering for its unique features which other phones does not provide under this price range.
The phone packs a 2600mAh battery which is quite less when compared to other phones in this budget but its battery isn’t that bad at all. With low to moderate usage, it managed to last until the end of the day and on heavy used it gives about 12hours of battery life which quite impressive for such a small battery.
It comes with 5.1inch Super AMOLED dual-edge display, the display is absolutely great, colors are good, good contrast and deep blacks. The phone’s dual edge display give it some additional software functions.
On the back, it has a 16MP f/1.9 camera with optical image stabilization and on the front, it has 5MP f/1.9 camera. The pictures are sharp with good colors and detail. The camera also performs well in low-light condition, even though the viewfinder shows some grain the picture after post production has no grain and looks quite well.
The phone is powered by Exynos 7420 processor which is not only super fast but it also runs cooler when compared to Snapdragon 810. It packs a 3GB of RAM which is enough to give you smooth multitasking experience and for some heavy gaming.
Even after being a bit older device in this price segment some of you would wanna prefer this phone over the others for its unique features like dual-edge display and wireless charging. The phone is good for day-to-day usage and for gaming. The camera on this phone is good with a great display.
Apple – iPhone 6 16GB
The only non-Android device in this list, the iPhone 6. After the release of iPhone 7, the price of iPhone 6 has been dropped. You can get this phone for around $400 on Amazon.
The iPhone 6 is powered by a 1,810mAh battery which is very less when compared to other phones in this range. However, the number doesn’t tell the whole story, in real world performance the iPhone 6 managed to last for 35 hours and on heavy usage, it lasts around 14 hours.
This phone charges quickly too, you can get it up to 35% in just 30 minutes and 100% in just 2 hours.
It comes with a 4.7-inch Retina display with a pixel density of 326ppi. The display of this phone is great with an excellent color accuracy and good brightness level.
The phone comes with 8MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.2. The phone captures sharp and vibrant pictures in good lighting but get quite fewer details as compared to the phones with more MP. The phone comes with a SLO-MO feature which shoots at 240FPS 720p and a Time Lapse feature.
The front-facing camera is a 1.2 MP with an aperture of f/2.2. The front camera comes with a timer and burst mode features for selfies.
It comes with an Apple A8 dual-core processor @1.4 GHz, a PowerVR GPU and 1GB of RAM. The phone performs better than those Android phones powered with Snapdragon 801 CPU. iOS is faster than Android in most cases and the games loads faster than in an Android Phone.
The phone has 4.7-inch screen unlike those Android phones in this list. It has good camera and good performance. The phone is a bit older but its decent one for day to day use and for gaming as well. If you really wanna have an iPhone, you like iOS and the 4.7-inch screen is fine for you, then you should go for this one.
- HTC ONE M9+ : This phone brings a lot of improvement which was expected from its flagship phone M9. It has a QHD display with a fast fingerprint scanner but the performance of this phone was not smooth while gaming or multi-tasking which might disappoint some users.
- Asus ZenFone 3: The new Asus Zenfone series is a but price this time for the specs it offers. The phone has a premium build quality with glass design, good fingerprint sensor, decent performance, and camera although the phone has some bloatware.
- Sony Xperia Z5: It is a solid flagship device which has some improvements from its previous device Z3+ like the glass rear cover and fingerprint scanner in its power button. Even though the phone has a 23MP camera but its performance doesn’t match to other phones out there. The price of this phone has been dropped so this can be your choice for its features like having a microSD card slot and being waterproof.