- 1 Sub-$150: Absolute bargains
- 2 $150-250: Some surprises from this year
- 3 $250-350: Last year's flagships
- 4 $350+: This year's flagships
With new phones becoming ever more expensive over recent years, it makes sense to consider used devices. Price retention is relatively low for Android handsets, so you can get the almost latest and greatest for much less. Thanks to outstanding budget products like the Pixel 3a and a few OnePlus devices, there are great options at almost any price point. Here's a roundup of some of the best phones in four categories ranging from sub-$150 to $350+.
See the list as a loose, slightly opinionated collection of handsets that stand out of the crowd. It's impossible to give you a comprehensive overview of all options out there, especially since this market is prone to sudden price hikes and uncertain availability — deals show up as fast as they disappear since phones are sold by refurbishers and private parties alike. That's also why prices in this roundup are estimates. Don't take them as carved in stone, especially if you're reading this a month or two after publication.
When you're shopping used, it's generally a good idea to look at flagship phones and those that sold in great numbers since they're widely available in the market.
Sub-$150: Absolute bargains
If you're looking for really cheap phones, you can find some marvels in this category. Be warned that you might end up with devices sporting rather weak processors that could impact longevity. Other phones might be so old they don't receive system updates anymore. To help you separate the wheat from the chaff, here are a few recommendations:
Pixel 2 XL
The Pixel 2 XL is getting long in the tooth, but it still has a year of software updates and possibly Android 11 R ahead of it. One thing is for sure: The phone will give you more horsepower than you could expect from new devices in this price range. You can also get a regular Pixel 2 for about 20 bucks less, but it's not really worth it. The Pixel 2 XL offers many benefits over its smaller brother, such as more modern looks, a bigger battery, and a larger screen.
LG's 2017 flagship V30 might not be the best-known Android phone around, but that could work to your advantage. The two-year-old device is going for about $100 these days, and while it may not receive official software updates anymore, it's certainly a capable alternative to ultra-low-budget phones you can buy at the same price. If you're not afraid of unlocking the bootloader and flashing software, you can even upgrade the handset's Android 9 to Android 10.
Moto G7 Power
If you want to go for a more recent budget device from this year and happen to be a Verizon customer, the Moto G7 might be worth checking out. Prices range from $100 to $150, and while it has some issues like a low resolution of 720p on a 6.2-inch screen, its 5,000mAh battery should last fairly long.
$150-250: Some surprises from this year
In the past, you'd mostly find older midrangers in this category, but the tables have turned. This year, you can get some great recent hardware at bargain prices. Software support for many of these is going to be decent, but there are also some outlier flagships from last year nearing their final update.
Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL
Our editors just nominated the Pixel 3a as the phone of the year 2019: It comes with a stunning camera and stellar battery life at a decent price. It may have a nominally weaker processor than the Pixel 2 or 3, but compared to them and the other devices in this list, it can look forward to the longest software support from Google.
Samsung Galaxy S9
The Galaxy S9 is another obvious choice in this price range, even if it's last year's flagship. Samsung is currently testing Android 10 on the device, which means that you can expect to use the latest flavor of the OS for another year. Other than that, it's still a beast of a phone, improving upon all the things that made the Galaxy S8 great. And it has a headphone jack.
LG G8 ThinQ
If you don't mind some front camera gimmicks and a rather old-fashioned design, the LG G8 ThinQ might be for you. While the device does have a notch, it doesn't have a camera bump on the back, which is pretty rare these days. The phone used to cost over $800 when it launched earlier this year, but it's already down to $200 to $250 on eBay. Considering that it comes with some of the latest hardware, that's basically a steal.
$250-350: Last year's flagships
The best used devices in this price range are usually last year's flagships. You can save a decent amount of money compared to what you'd have to pay when they came out, and you'll still get more than a year of software support out of many of them. Ignoring the Pixel 3a, this price range is generally the one where your investment in used tech pays out the best.
Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL
I'm having a hard time recommending the smaller Pixel 3 at the full price since I'm suffering through its rather short battery life myself right now, but if you're looking for a device that offers two more years of software updates straight from Google, you won't have to look much further (well, granted, you could scroll up a bit to look at the Pixel 3a). And if you don't mind the Pixel 3 XL's notch, that phone might be even better suited for you thanks to its bigger battery.
The OnePlus 6T is basically just a refined OnePlus 6 trading the headphone jack for an under-display fingerprint reader. If you're okay with that, you'll be happy with this device's performance and software support, but if you really need a headphone jack, the OnePlus 6 is a great option at about $40 less, as well. Both phones have also just received Android 10 (though the update is rolling out pretty slowly).
Samsung Galaxy Note9
If you want a device with a stylus that doesn't break the bank, take a look at last year's Samsung Galaxy Note9. In contrast to its successor, it still has a headphone jack and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, and its display isn't punctured by its front-facing camera. Refurbished versions of this phone are currently going for about $360 to $390 on Amazon, so you might want to choose those instead.
- Buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 starting at about $320 on eBay
- Buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 for about $370 on Swappa
$350+: This year's flagships
You can't go wrong with current flagships when it comes to both sheer hardware power and software support, even when you get them on the aftermarket. Since we're currently still in the pre-Christmas discount madness, be sure to compare the price of used models with those of new ones. If you're not saving much more than $50, it might be worth going for the phone fresh from the factory, since you can be sure you'll get the full warranty and no evil surprises. Additionally, keep in mind that at prices above $350, you'll also find many brand-new alternatives.
OnePlus 7 Pro
The OnePlus 7 Pro already has as successor sold exclusively overseas. The two are basically identical, though, as the new one received barely more than a minor processor upgrade. If you want a brand-new OnePlus 7 Pro, you'll end up paying more than $650, but used devices are already starting at about $450.
Samsung Galaxy S10+ and Note10+
All devices in the current-generation Galaxy S and Note series (except the 5G variants) are worth a look when you're shopping for used devices, but if you want to get a cutting-edge Samsung phone for a great price, the Galaxy S10+ and Note10+ are the ones to choose.
- Buy the Samsung Galaxy S10+ for about $500 on Swappa
- Buy the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ for about $680 on Swappa
If you've set your eyes on a particular phone but the prices are still too steep for you, consider waiting for Christmas to pass if you can. Many people will find new devices under the tree and at least a few of them will decide to sell their old phones instead of leaving them in a drawer to collect dust. Coupled with the post-Christmas consumer fatigue, prices will likely plummet.
Last but not least, check out our editorial on when it makes sense to buy last year's smartphone – our own Stephen Schenck mainly talks about purchasing new devices, but the principles and catches he lays out apply to used hardware, as well.