Your Next Smartphone - Value Devices

Sometimes the word “value” is associated with “bad,” like getting the generic brand of certain goods at the department store. However, sometimes you can get some bang for your buck, so you should at least consider some of the value options–particularly for expensive devices like smartphones.

Google Pixel 5a 5G

At first glance, the Pixel 5a 5G might look similar to the Pixel 4a, especially since it has the same brushed aluminum back and Gorilla Glass 6 front covering its frame. It also has a solid 6.34-inch, 1,080 x 2,400 pixel OLED display powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 5G chip, topped off with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of onboard storage. This device features the Android 12 operating system.

For cameras, the Pixel 5a has a 12.2MP wide-angle lens and 16MP ultra wide-angle lens. The front-facing lens is an 8MP wide-angle lens. The battery is somewhat more impressive than other Pixel phones, boasting a 4,680 mAh battery (about 122 hours of life) and 18W fast charging.

The Google Pixel 5a 5G is only available in Mostly Black, $449 can get you the Pixel 5a from the Google Store.

Google Pixel 5a
Body:  Aluminum frame, aluminum back, Gorilla Glass 3 front. 
Display: 6.34-inch OLED, 1,080 x 2,400 (~415 ppi)
OS: Android 11, Upgradable to Android 12
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
Memory: 6 GB RAM, 128 GB Storage
Expandable Memory: No
Cameras: Rear – 12.2 MP 27mm; 16 MP 119º; Front – 8 MP 24mm
Sounds: Stereo sound
Battery (battery endurance rating): 4,680 mAh (122 hours)
Security: Rear-mounted fingerprint sensor
Miscellaneous: IP67 dust and water resistant
Other versions: n/a

Motorola Moto G Power

The Moto G Power might not have the sturdiest build, with a hard plastic frame and a glass front, but it does offer value for what it is. Its screen is a 6.6-inch IPS LCD, 90 hertz display with a resolution of 720 x 1,600, running Android 11 on its Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 chipset, with 4 GB of RAM and your choice of 64 GB or 128 GB of onboard storage. At a paltry $200, this device offers a solid value proposition for its price point.

The Moto G Power offers a 48 MP wide-angle camera with a pair of 2 MP cameras for depth and macro resolution. On the front, there’s an 8 MP wide-angle lens. The Moto G Power also offers a 5,000 mAh battery and 10W fast charging, as well as a 130-hour endurance rating. Add in the fingerprint scanner and a water-repellent coating, and you have a solid device for under $200.

The Moto G Power is an affordable option that comes in Flash Gray and Polar Silver.

Motorola G Power
Body: Plastic frame, plastic back, glass front
Display: 6.6-inch IPS LCD; 720 x 1,600 (~270 ppi)
OS: Android 11
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 662
Memory: 4 GB RAM; 64-to-126 GB onboard storage
Expandable Memory: microSDXC
Cameras: Rear – 48 MP wide; 2 MP depth; 2MP macro; Front – 8 MP wide
Sounds: Stereo sound
Battery (battery endurance rating): 5,000 mAh (~130 hours)
Security: Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
Miscellaneous: Water-repellent coating
Other versions: n/a

Samsung Galaxy A71 5G

The Samsung Galaxy A71 5G is built with a plastic back, aluminum frame, and Gorilla Glass 3 on the front, all of which protects the 6.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus display powered by an Exynos 980 chipset with either 6 or 8 GB of RAM and 126 GB of onboard storage (further increased with microSDXC). This device uses Samsung’s One UI 3.0 operating system and Android 10, but it can be upgraded to Android 11 and One UI 3.2.

The Galaxy A71 5G has four rear-facing cameras in total: one a 64 MP wide-angle lens, another 12 MP ultrawide lens, and a 5 MP macro lens joined by a 5MP depth camera. The selfie camera is a robust 32 MP wide-angle lens. With a 4,500 mAh battery, 25W fast charging, 5G capabilities, and an in-display fingerprint sensor, the Galaxy A71 5G offers a solid value for its price point.

The Galaxy A71 5G is available in Prism Cube Black, Prism Cube Silver, and Prism Cube Blue online for $250 to $350.

Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
Body: Aluminum frame, plastic back, Gorilla Glass 3 front
Display: 6.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus, 1,050 x 2,400 (~393 ppi)
OS: Android 10, upgradeable to Android 11; One UI 3.0
Chipset: Exynos 980
Memory: 6-to-8 GB RAM; 128 GB onboard storage
Expandable Memory: microSDXC
Cameras: Rear – 64 MP 26mm; 12 MP 123º; 5 MP macro; 5 MP depth; Front – 32 MP 26mm 
Sounds: Stereo sound
Battery (battery endurance rating): 4,500 mAh (98  hours)
Security: In-display fingerprint sensor
Miscellaneous: 25W fast charging
Other versions: Samsung Galaxy A71; Samsung Galaxy A72 (2021)

Other Ways to Get Value from Mobile Investments

Other mid-tier phones are available, but if you want to get the most value, then you should consider flagship devices from the previous generation of smartphones. These devices are supported by manufacturers for much longer with security updates and operating system buffs, and they typically will have higher specs, too—particularly when compared to budget devices.

Next week, we’ll wrap up our annual smartphone roundup with a look at foldable devices.

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