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Smartphones of 2022 - The Value Models

Smartphones of 2022 - The Value Models

Last week, we committed one of our blogs to examining some of the most impressive new flagship smartphones to be found on the market—the creme de la creme, if you will, with price tags to match. This week, we wanted to focus on a different market: those looking to get a great value for less than half of what the flagships demand. If you aren’t the type to finance a phone, here are three options to consider for less than $500.

Google Pixel 5a 5G

While Google has proven themselves to be a contender with their flagship line of Pixel 6-model phones and their new silicon Tensor, they haven’t abandoned the mid-range space. As a result, the Pixel 5a (effectively an upgraded copy of the Pixel 4a) is now available.

With a brushed aluminum back and Gorilla Glass 6 front sheathing an aluminum frame, the Pixel 5a presents users with a 6.34-inch 1,080 x 2,400 pixel OLED display. Rather than the aforementioned Tensor chip, the 5a relies on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G with 6GB of RAM and 128 GB of onboard storage. While this means that the specifications are effectively identical to the Pixel 4a’s, it still offers plenty of value for a mid-range smartphone in terms of its speed and capabilities.

As for the camera setup, it remains in line with every Pixel phone that has come before it. Thanks to the combination of Google’s stock Android 12 operating system and the Pixel 5a’s 12.2MP wide-angle lens and 16MP ultrawide angle lens, the 5a can take some truly stellar pictures for a mid-tier phone. For the front-facing lens, Google has gone with an 8MP wide-angle lens.

The real standout, however, is the battery. The Pixel 5a has a 4,680 mAh battery that offers an endurance rating of 122 hours as well as 18W fast charging. Users have access to a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and the devices have IP67 dust and water resistance. 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

Samsung Galaxy A71 5G

Samsung’s A-series of devices can be challenging to follow. For instance, you might expect that last year’s A71 to have evolved into the Galaxy A72—but the A72 doesn’t offer a 5G version. Instead, Samsung decided to give 5G capability to the A52S 5G—not a bad phone, but the real value comes with the A71 5G and its relative similarity for around $100 less.

Built on an aluminum frame, the A71 5G has a plastic back and Gorilla Glass 3 on the front. The 6.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus display has a 1,080 X 2,400 resolution. Depending on the model, it will feature an Exynos 980 chipset with either 6 or 8 GB of RAM. Either will come with 126 GB of onboard storage with microSDXC expandability. Packaged with Samsung’s One UI 3.0 operating system and Android 10, it can be updated to Android 11 and One UI 3.2.

As for the camera, the A71 5G offers an impressive value. The back sports 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. On the front, you get a 32 MP wide-angle lens.

As you may have suspected, the Galaxy A71 5G offers 5G capabilities, and is equipped with an impressive 4,500 mAh battery and 25W fast charging. Secured by an optical in-display fingerprint sensor, the 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)

Motorola Moto G Power

The 2022 version of the Moto G Power upholds Motorola’s streak of solid Android devices. Built around a hard plastic frame and back with a glass front, the Moto G Power is admittedly behind in terms of build quality. However, the value it offers makes up for it.

The Moto G Power has 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. With this device costing about $200, these low specs are still an excellent value when balancing the cost against its configuration.

The Moto G Power offers a very capable 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 real value, however, comes from the battery. With a 5,000 mAh battery and 10W fast charging, the Moto G Power earns its name—this configuration gives its users 130 hours of endurance for, again, under $200. With a side-mounted fingerprint sensor to help secure it and a water-repellent coating protecting it, the Moto G Power is a relatively affordable choice 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

Other Phones to Think About

Of course, these aren’t the only value-based choices you have for your next phone purchase. You might consider purchasing a flagship device from the last generation. While it may be a cost of over $500 for a year-old phone, it’s still half of what you would spend on a device from this year.

This year, many flagships also have multiple model options available that are relatively affordable—particularly in comparison to the creme de la creme option. Instead of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, maybe purchase an iPhone 13. The Google Pixel 6 comes with the new Tensor chip, and only costs $599. Regardless, know that it isn’t that hard to find a good value in a device without having to shell out an extra $50 every month in your monthly phone bill.

We’ll soon be wrapping up this year’s smartphone review with a look at some of the new form factors that phone designers are experimenting with. Be sure to check back next week, and leave your impressions in the comments!

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