Best phones under $400 you can buy now

The new iPhone SE has got us all talking about low-priced phones again. It's not just people with tight budgets, but these budget phones are turning heads of those who tend to opt for the more expensive models. Phones like the iPhone SE and Google Pixel 3a are a reminder not everyone needs all the bells and whistles of a full-fledged flagship. Most of us can get by with the basics.

Now with the spotlight back on $400 phones, the iPhone SE finds itself in a company other well-made alternatives. These are the best $400 phones you can buy now.

iPhone SE ($399)

Apple's latest won't turn any heads when it comes to design, but the iPhone SE is sure to be a hit with buyers because of reliability, longevity and iOS. It's going to last you many years thanks to the A13 chip, one of the most power processors on a mobile device, and Apple's steady software support that ensures the original 2016 iPhone SE still receives updates today.

The iPhone SE beefs up the specs that matter most to people, including its camera. While its dated single 12MP shooter doesn't sound impressive, Apple's trademark image processing and best-in-class video performance ensures the camera punches way above its class.

Google Pixel 3a ($379)

Speaking of cameras, the Pixel 3a is the king of the budget smartphone crop. The Pixel and iPhone SE may share similar lenses around the 12MP range, Pixel's photos immediately look sharper and crisp because of that bigger and punchier OLED display. It offers better color accuracy, deeper blacks and is inarguably nicer to look at. On top of that, Google trades blows with Apple's impeccable image processing, making the most even out of an old lens. Plus, it has night sight, giving the Pixel the edge over the iPhone the moment the sun sets.

The Pixel 3a is reliably backed by Google with the latest Android updates too. But if you can wait, the new Pixel 4a is just around the corner, which should be Google's answer to the new iPhone SE.

Samsung Galaxy A series (around $400)

Samsung Galaxy phones will catch your eye for one main reason, its gorgeous display. Most of these offer big and bright AMOLED display that stretches across the whole screen. If games and videos are your main usage, these phones should be on your radar.

Many Galaxy phones offer multiple lenses, for wide, zoom and normal shots. Samsung's shooters haven't been on top of the game, but most of these cameras will work perfectly given enough light. The photos may be a bit too saturated, but its high megapixel count provides photos with plenty of detail for editing in post.

Take the $360 Galaxy A71, which just launched in January. It's equipped with a beautiful Super AMOLED Plus display that's perfect for devouring HD videos and even has four camera sensors to experiment around with. Putting most flagships to shame is its 4500mAh battery that will confidently bring you through a whole day.

The flagship Galaxy S phones even fall into the $400 category if you're willing to buy refurnished models. One of the best deals in tech you'll find is a renewed model of last year's Galaxy S10e, which goes for $345 on Amazon. That's a Snapdragon 855 at that low a price point.

Nokia 7.2 ($350)

Nokia has come a long way since its resurgence and they are making great mid-range phones. The $350 reflects expertise in years of phone-making with a simple device with a clean UI. The Snapdraon 660 isn't the most powerful, but the lightweight Android One software means it has less to juggle. While not its forte, three cameras at the back offer plenty of flexibility, fronted by a 48MP main shooter and accompanied by an ultra-wide and a depth sensor.

Xiaomi Mi 9T ($310)

One of the flashier phones on this list, the Xiaomi Mi 9T doesn't follow the rule book. It has a an otherworldly wave design on the glass back, and a pop-up selfie camera that frees up space on the front for a nearly bezel-less 6.4-inch AMOLED display. It runs Android 10 on a MIUI 11 skin, but if you're not a fan that can be changed with a launcher, which the Mi 9T has plenty of power to cope with thanks to a beefy Snapdragon 730 chipset.

Motorola Moto G8+ ($200)

It's a shame this phone has slipped under the radar while the Motorola Edge+ has been taking the headlines. The Moto G8+ doesn't have much in terms of specs, but it has a big 4000mAh battery to bring your through the day. Its wide 6.4-inch LCD panel means its comfortable for long-term use, while never draining too much battery. If you're tight on cash, this is a fine choice.

Best overall

The iPhone SE has entered the $400 market at an opportune time. While the market is filled with solid choices, many are unfamiliar to most, or have quickly shifted out of the spotlight. The Pixel 3a and iPhone SE hold an advantage here for being the companies' only budget offering all year round – and for good reason because they are reliable budget phones that are sure to last a while. If taking pictures is your priority, one of these has to be top of your list.

The best bang for buck here has to be the Samsung Galaxy A71. Few phones of this price offer so much and look this good. If you're up for it, go one up with a renewed Galaxy S10e for flagship specs at a budget price.