Like most smartphone platforms, Android too has its fair share of flaws and the most prominent one being the inconsistency of the user experience across various devices. The other prominent mobile OSes, however, do not have the extensive ecosystem as that of Android. iOS is only on expensive Apple devices whereas Windows 10 Mobile is barely available on any hardware at the moment and Microsoft’s plan with the OS not certain.
However, coming to budget Android phones, the major problems that most users face are lack of updates, degraded performance without lack of third party apps, and finally, the inconsistent user experience. This happens when OEMs customize the software too much or adds bloatware. A stock Android OS, however, does not have such woes. They are generally updated faster and more frequently, have a consistent performance throughout their lifespan, and more importantly, they lack bloatware. Here are top budget phones with stock Android or near-stock Android OS that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Moto G5 Plus
Released exclusively on Flipkart in India, the Moto G5 Plus is a decent mid ranger that comes with almost no bloatware. Motorola calls the UX Moto Pure, and also often Pure Android, offering clutter free version of Android with minor under the hood tweaks that are needed to make the phone’s hardware function, such as Moto Display and Moto Actions which show quick notifications and allow gesture based interactions without much hit on the performance.
- 5.2 inch 1080p screen
- Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 625 processor with 2.0 GHz octa-core CPU and 650 MHz Adreno 506 GPU
- 3 GB / 4 GB RAM and 16 GB / 32 GB internal, up to 128 GB microSD Card support
- 12 MP with Dual Autofocus Pixels and ƒ/1.7 aperture
- 5 MP Wide-angle lens ƒ/2.2 aperture front camera
- Android 7.0
- 3000 mAh battery
Moto G4 Plus
Moto G4 Play is not a great performer and has somewhat lowly specs. However, the phone does come with a decent 16MP camera with laser assisted auto focus ensuring that you do not miss a shot. The G4 Plus comes with an older version of Android, but it is similarly clutter free and can be upgraded to the newest version.
- 5.5 inch 1080p screen
- 1.5 GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 617 octa-core processor with 550 MHz Adreno 405 GPU
- 2 GB / 3 GB RAM and 16 GB / 32 GB internal, up to 128 GB microSD Card support
- 16 MP Laser auto-focus Phase detect auto-focus (PDAF) ƒ / 2.0 aperture primary camera
- 5MP Wide-angle lens ƒ/2.2 aperture front camera
- Android 6.0.1
- 3000 mAh battery
Since it’s Google’s phone, the Nexus 5X (Project Fi) made by LG comes with a clean version of Android. It has a few Google apps and services that you can further disable to increase performance in this already high performing phone. It has an impressive CPU, coupled with a good camera and front facing speaks and a fingerprint scanner. However, the low amount of RAM makes it less future proof than the other phones.
- 5.2-inch IPS LCD 1080p display
- 1.8 GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
- 2 GB of RAM
- 16/32 GB of on-board storage, no microSD card expansion
- 12.3 MP rear camera, 5 MP front camera
- Non-removable 2,700 mAh battery
- Android 7.1 Nougat
Since Lenovo acquired Motorola, they have been refining the software on their phones. Lenovo P2 runs on Android 6.0.1 with its Vibe UI on top, but the user experience is pretty much similar to stock Android, as opposed to the older variants of Lenovo’s Vibe UI. The look and feel of the OS feels pretty similar to that of the Motorola phones. What makes the P2 special is that it is an exceptional business phone with almost a three-day battery life. The 5100 mAh battery is the main selling point making it a great option for frequent travelers. However, the rest of the specs are pretty average.
- 5.5-inch IPS LCD 1080p display
- Octa Core, 2 GHz Snapdragon 625 SoC with Adreno 506 GPU
- 4 GB of RAM
- 32 GB of on-board storage
- 13 MP rear camera, 5 MP front camera
- Non-removable 5,100 mAh battery
- Android 6.0.1, up-gradable to Android 7
Launched on January 2017 with a Q2 2017 global release, the Nokia 6 is the return of the biggest phone manufacturer from the dead. Nokia, like Motorola, made it clear that they will have their primary focus on user experience, and hence will run on stock Android. Also, because it’s a Nokia, the phone will be built to last. The full metal body (including metallic buttons) will have a curved screen on the phone, capacitive buttons and a fingerprint sensor. It will also pack decent storage and system memory, even though the SoC may seem a bit under powered.
- 5.5-inch IPS LCD 1080p display with 2.5D curved glass
- Octa Core, 1.1 GHz Snapdragon 430 SoC with Adreno 505 GPU
- 3 GB of RAM
- 32 GB of on-board storage
- 16 MP rear camera with Laser assisted PDAF, 8 MP front camera
- Non-removable 3000 mAh battery
- Android 7.1