Best Android phones $100-1000 – most are now 5G

Android phones

Our best Android phones from $100-1000 guide, covers certified Australian models from authorised resellers like JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Officeworks, Harvey Norman and Bing Lee. It is vital to buy a genuine 5G model because grey market phones may not work with Australian 5G Telcos.

My, how the market has changed! We always said that 5G adoption would be like 4K television. Once 4K sets were the same price as full HD, everyone bought them. Well, now 5G dominates the scene, with the Samsung A22 ($299 outright) and TCL 20R leading the way ($349 outright and $299 on a 36 month Vodafone plan).

4G is still popular, and that network will be around for many years to come as a backup to 5G. While Telcos still tout fantastic coverage figures like 75% of the population, the true state of Australia’s 5G networks in 2021 is more like 10% of the population and 2% of the geographic area.

And some issues complicate 5G. In particular, the new Low-Band 5G  (repurposed 3G) requires a different 5G modem supporting both sub-6 gigahertz n78 and Low-band n5, n28 and n40, which a lot of low-cost phones and pre-early 2021 models don’t support. (The n band figure defines the signal used for a particular mobile network).

The absence of any brand and model from this list simply means that we haven’t spent enough time with it to make a recommendation. Or it is a 2020 run-out model that may be in limited supply. Retail prices shown are generally for dual-SIM models from JB Hi-Fi as of 5 October. The list generally excludes any single-SIM Telco carrier-locked deals.

Final note: From 1 September, we adjusted our base pass mark to 6/10 (and was 8/10) to allow more headroom to reward special or class-leading features.

What about second-hand or refurbs?

We have also updated our advice on buying second-hand or refurbished phones. We don’t have any problems with ‘recycle and reuse’, but when you look at the value, warranty, battery life, and new tech you can get starting from about $150, the used market is a lot less attractive than it was.

And the Best Android phones from $100-1000 are?

Perhaps the most stunning change since our April update is the class-leading dominance of Motorola’s Edge 20 series, its new g-50 5G and its price leading 4G e7 series. Motorola has touted up wins in six price brackets.

Best Android phones for <$200 (4G)

  • Moto e7 Power 8.3/10, 32GB $129 – the lowest price you can go for a passable smartphone
  • Moto e7 9/10, 64GB 4G $199
  • Nokia G10 6.8/10 32GB $141
  • Vivo Y12 64GB $149
  • realme C11 32GB $151
  • vivo Y3s 32GB $159
  • Nokia 3.4 64GB $173
  • realme C12 32GB $175
  • OPPO A15 32GB $179
  • vivo Y11s 32GB $179
  • vivo Y30 64GB $199
  • realme C21 9/10 64GB $199 (Optus locked)

Setting them apart is hard because they all offer good features for the price. The Moto e7 stands out or, if cash-strapped, the vivo Y12.

Best Android phones for $200-299 (4G except where shown)

  • Moto G10 8.7/10 64GB $219
  • OPPO A53/A53s 10/10 64/128GB $229/279 (due for next model)
  • vivo Y20s 128GB $229
  • Nokia 5.4 128GB $239
  • Samsung A12 128GB $249
  • Moto g30 8.7/10 128GB $249
  • Vivo X50 Lite 128GB $199
  • Samsung A22 5G 128GB (run-out price $349 down to $299 – cheapest 5G)

If you are after 5G, the Samsung A22 5G is a standout with all sub-6Ghz and low-band 5G. In the 4G world, the OPPO A53/53s offer most features, but the vivo Y20s with 128GB is the standout value.

Best Android phones for $300-399 (5G except where shown)

Best Android phones $100-1000 Moto g50
Moto g-50 has all that you could ever want from a mid-range 5G
  • OPPO A54 9.8/10 64GB $349
  • vivo Y70 128GB 4G $349
  • TCL 20R 64GB ($349 or $299 on a 36 month Vodafone locked plan)
  • vivo Y52 8.5/10 128GB $379
  • OPPO A74 9.8/10 128GB $399
  • Moto G50 8.3/10 128GB $399

The ‘price’ winner is the OPPO A54 64GB and vivo Y70 at $349. The outright winner is the Motorola g50.

Best Android phones for $400-$499 (5G)

Best Android phones $100-1000 Moto Edge 20 Fusion
Moto Edge 20 Fusion has a 108MP snapper, big screen and battery.

The Motorola Edge 20 Fusion is the standout winner with a clear Android upgrade/update path and 108MP camera.

Best Android phones for $500-599 (5G)

This OPPO Find X3 Lite is the almost perfect sub $600 phone with three years of Android Upgrades, all sub-6Ghz and 5G Low-bands, AMOLED screen, 64MP camera and Qualcomm Snapdragon. It is more so the bargain of the year as it started at $749!

Best Android phones for $600-699 (5G)

Best Android phones $100-1000 Motorola Edge 20
This is the just right Moto Edge 20
  • CAT S52 4G MIL-STD $629 (Good Guys)
  • Moto Edge 20 8.8/10 128GB $699

It also stands out for value with an excellent Android upgrade/update policy and a 108MP camera. But it does not support Optus n40 low-band 5G, so that may be an issue for Optus users. The OPPO Find X3 Lite competition is at $100 less with Optus support, but Moto’s extra specs justify the extra dollars.

Best Android phones for $700-799 (5G)

Nokia XR20
  • Nokia XR20 128GB $703

This is Nokia’s MIL-STD phone, and it is heavily discounted from $879. MIL-STD means it has a ‘military standard’ rating for durability. On paper, it has a low-end SD480 processor and 6/128GB. It does not support Optus 5G Low-band.

Best Android phones for $800-899 (5G)

Best Android phones $100-1000 Motorola Edge 20 Pro
It would be hard to beat but it is not for Optus users.

While the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is a terrific phone, it is a 2020 model. It supports all sub-6Ghz, and 5G low-bands, AMOLED screen, decent camera and Samsung Android upgrade/update policy is good.

The Motorola Edge 20 Pro is the standout latest tech, AMOLED 120Hz screen, SD870 processor, 108MP camera, and more. It also has a full implementation of ‘Ready for’, Motorola’s Android desktop. The only downside is no support for Optus 5G Low-band.

Best Android phones for $900-999 (5G)

Best Android phones $100-1000 OPPO Fuind X3 Neo
OK this is the best sub $1000 phone (by $1)

OPPO Find X3 Neo 9.6/10 256GB $999

The OPPO Find X3 Neo is a superb, fully-featured, no compromise (well, very few) premium smartphone at a budget price of $999. It supports all sub-6GHz and 5G Low bands, has an SD865+ processor and a 90Hz AMOLED screen.

Best Android phones for $1000+ (5G)

There are run-outs here like the Galaxy Note 20 (Telstra only), Galaxy Flip (Gen 1) and early the 2021 Samsung Galaxy S21 series 128/256 $1249/1349.

  • CAT S62 Pro MIL-STD 4G Thermal camera $1099 (Good Guys)
  • Vivo x60 Pro 9.4/10 256GB $1099 with a gimbal stabilised camera, all sub-6Ghz/5G low-bands and SD870 is very impressive.

The standout is the OPPO Find X3 Pro 9.8/10 256GB $1499 that has it all. Qualcomm SD888, all sub-6Ghz and 5G low-bands, 6.7” 120Hz, 4K AMOLED and much more. We have a shootout – OPPO Find X3 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S21 series – which flagship smartphone is best?

Apple 5G (not Android)

All iPhone 13-series are 5G capable. The iPhone mini starts at $1199, and the top of the range Pro Max is $2719.

Best Android phones $100-1000, Best Android phones $100-1000, Best Android phones $100-1000