5 Best Phones for 400 Dollars in 2021 – All you need to know

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best phone for 400 dollars

Which is the best phone for 400 dollars you can get? I was asking myself the same question so I decided to do a little research and compare different phones and different brands between each other.

For me, 400 up to 500 dollars is kind of a sweet spot to buy a modern phone. For this price, you can get a very capable upper mid-range phone or maybe a refurbished or second-hand flagship from last year. Whatever the case will be in the end you should expect a great performance and very decent hardware on the phone.

I always buy a phone for around 400 dollars and usually replace it after 2 years with another 400 dollar phone. The biggest benefit that I see on not spending too much on your phone is if you drop it or destroy it in any other way. Imagine dropping a phone after paying more than 1000 dollars for it 😅. As I already mentioned for this price you can already get some of last year’s flagships but I prefer to go for a new mid-range phone. Technology is just advancing so fast that I think this is a better deal in the long term.

If you want to read a full detailed review of our recommended phone for 400 dollars click here. Or if you are more interested in our top budget pick we got you covered here.

DID YOU KNOW: Nowadays you do not need to spend a fortune on your phone to get a great performance. For me personally 400$ is the optimal price as you can get a great phone that will work perfectly for your everyday tasks.

NOTE: Below you can find a comparison table and a detailed description of the best phones for 400 dollars.


BUDGET RECOMMENDED
Samsung Galaxy A52 Samsung Galaxy A71 Huawei Nova 5T Samsung Galaxy S10+ Xiaomi Mi 10T

Samsung Galaxy A52

Samsung Galaxy A71

Huawei Nova 5T

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Xiaomi Mi 10T
Display 6.5 inches 6.7 inches 6.26 inches 6.4 inches 6.67 inches
Main camera 64 MP wide, 12 MP ultrawide, 5 MP macro, 5 MP depth 64 MP wide, 12 MP ultrawide, 5 MP macro, 5 MP depth 48 MP wide, 16 MP ultrawide, 2 MP macro, 2 MP depth 12 MP wide, 12 MP telephoto, 16 MP ultrawide 64 MP wide, 13 MP ultrawide, 5 MP macro
Video max. 4K@30fps max. 4K@30fps max. 4K@30fps max. 4K@60fps, HDR10+ max. 8K@30fps
Front camera 32 MP wide 32 MP wide 32 MP wide 10 MP wide and 8 MP wide 20 MP wide
Battery 4500 mAh, non-removable 4500 mAh, non-removable 3750 mAh, non-removable 4100 mAh, non-removable 5000 mAh, non-removable
Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Amazon

* International and US hardware.


OVERALL RATING

We evaluated the phones based on several key factors that are important to capture high-quality photos. The most important being camera megapixels, resolution, and lens zoom performance and capacity. And we must not forget the display as you don’t want just to capture an image in high quality but to also look nice on the screen.

We tested and evaluated all mentioned features and compiled results to a single score number. Please note that the final score does not take the price into the account. So obviously the budget phones will not perform as well as the high-end flagship. But we make sure that all our recommended phones will give you a great camera experience.


What are the best phones for 400 dollars?

SAMSUNG Galaxy A52 – Top Budget Phone for 400 dollars

One of the best phone for 400 dollars
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Quad with 64 MP wide, 12 MP ultrawide, 5 MP macro and 5 MP depth Single 32 MP wide Up to 4K 30 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy A52 is a very good and capable mid-range phone. It brings a lot of upgrades over its predecessors. It has some cool new features and a brand new design. All of that comes at a reasonable price, which is appropriate for a phone on such a level. It has many qualities that make this phone truly great and worth every penny. Therefore, we decided to list it as one of the best phones for 400 dollars.

There were some improvements on the field of cameras as well. Galaxy A52 feature a quad camera setup. Here we get 64 MP main camera with OIS, 12 MP ultrawide camera, 5 MP macro camera and a 5 MP depth sensor. Photos taken with main camera during the day are very sharp, have wide dynamic range a lot of detail. There is very little, almost zero noise and the colour are more or less accurate. Low light photography looks quite okay. Highlights and shadows look nice and noise is reduced to minimum. However, switching to ultrawide camera during night may reduce photo quality. So stick to the main camera. Samsung also added some extra features that you can have fun with. You will find a quick access to AR effects right in the camera app. As far as video recording goes, you are able to make 4K footages at 30 fps. You can also make videos at 1080p resolution which also look quite nice and the overall quality is very satisfying. Videos taken during the day have wide dynamic range, have a lot of detail and are very sharp.

If you are interested in more details about the phone you can read more by clicking here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Great price compared to high-end flagships
  • Snapdragon 720G gaming performance was really better then we expected. This is also one of the main reasons this phone is listed here
  • For people with smaller hands this phone will be easy to handle and comfortable to hold even after longer usage, like gaming
  • Wide dynamic range in stills
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • Camera video capabilities are still very basic.
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

SAMSUNG Galaxy A71

One of the best phone for 400 dollars
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Quad with 64 MP wide, 12 MP ultrawide, 5 MP macro and 5 MP depth Single 32 MP wide Up to 4K 30 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy A71 is another Samsung mid-range phone. Unlike flagships, this one comes at an affordable price, which is certainly a benefit for your wallet. Furthermore, the phone doesn’t lack anything and is pretty competitive. It has a good-looking design and an excellent mid-range chipset. Based on its quality, we decided to put it on our list of the best phones for 400 dollars.

The cameras you will find here do a pretty good job a well. Galaxy A71 features a quad camera setup, which has an interesting L shape. Here we get a 64 MP main camera with PDAF, 12 MP ultrawide camera, 5 MP macro camera, and a 5 MP depth sensor. Photos taken with the main camera during the day are very sharp, have a wide dynamic range a lot of detail. There is very little, almost zero noise and the colours are more or less accurate. Low light photography looks quite okay. Highlights and shadows look nice and noise is reduced to a minimum. However, switching to an ultrawide camera during the night may reduce photo quality. Macro shots could be improved as well. Many shots come out blurry, because of fixed focus and that could be a little annoying.

As far as video recording goes, you are able to make 4K footages at 30 fps. You can also make videos at 1080p resolution which also looks quite nice and the overall quality is very satisfying. Videos taken during the day have a wide dynamic range, have a lot of detail, and are very sharp.

If you are interested in more details about the phone you can read more by clicking here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Performance is smooth thanks to an excellent mid-range chipset
  • The price of this device is very attractive
  • Great and large screen
  • Good camera set for the price point
  • Accurate exposure with wide dynamic range
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • No wireless charging or reverse charging
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

HUAWEI Nova 5T

One of the best phone for 400 dollars
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Quad with 48 MP wide, 16 MP ultrawide, 2 MP macro and 2 MP depth Single 32 MP wide Up to 4K 30 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Huawei Nova 5T is one of Huawei’s most beautifully designed and mid-range phones. It looks very similar to Honor 20, so if you are familiar with that phone, using this one will be a walk in the park. Otherwise, the phone has a good chipset and pretty long battery life. It is also very affordable which makes it one of the best phones for 400 dollars.

Huawei nova 5T features a quad camera set up on the back. Here you will find one 48 MP main camera with PDAF, one 16 MP ultrawide camera, one 2 MP macro lens and a 2 MP depth sensor. Camera set up might not be the best feature here, as you can find similar setup on cheaper phones. Still, the image quality is good. Day time photos taken with main camera look okay. They have a lot of detail and sufficiently wide dynamic range with little noise. Night time and low light photos can have reduced quality, although still satisfying. Basic users will probably not have any problem with the quality, however professionals might be bothered with some details, as images tend to be softer.

As far as video recording goes, you do get an option for 4K videos at 30 fps. However, you can always take footages up to 1080p at 30 or 60 fps. In general, video quality is good. There is plenty of detail, little noise and wide dynamic range. Although, if video recording is important to you, you might want to check out some other, but more expensive phones, like Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus.

If you are interested in more details about the phone you can read more by clicking here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Highly readable and highly responsive IPS screen, 2340 x 1080 resolution
  • Performance is amazing for a mid range phone. It holds its own even against pricier models
  • The fingerprint reader works wonderfully and is faster than the Honor 5X
  • Battery lasts all day video chatting, gaming and watching videos non-stop
  • Good exposure and wide dynamic range in photos
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • Does not have a memory card slot. Since there is only 128 GB version available you must decide if that is enough for you
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

One of the best phone for 400 dollars
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Triple with 12 MP wide, 12 MP telephoto and 16 MP ultrawide Dual with 10 MP and 8 MP wide Up to 4K 60 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Samsung Galaxy S10+ is a more premium version of the regular S10. This phone is bigger and carries some new additions. However, most of the features, especially design, remain the same. The phone is a bit older and is definitely not the newest flagship out there, but it can still perform really well and can carry out many difficult tasks. Therefore, we decided to put this phone on the list of the best phones for 400 dollars.

On the field of cameras, the major difference is that the S10+ has a dual selfie camera, which regular S10 doesn’t. That improves depth sensing and gives better results when taking selfies. Otherwise the camera setup on the back remains the same. The phone features 12 MP main camera, 16 MP ultrawide camera and 12 MP telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom. You get fantastic results during the day. The photos are very sharp with a lot of detail. The dynamic range is great and the overall quality of the photos is superb. Using zoom does not affect quality in a major way and photos remain sharp. Night time photography is on a high level. The output is surprisingly good and you get a high quality shots with a lot of detail. However, when it’s too dark the quality will decrease. The videos taken during the day look fantastic. You can make 4K footages at 30 fps or 60 fps. Both options give you outstanding results. However, videos taken with telephoto camera at 60 fps can have reduced quality.

If you are interested in more details about the phone you can read more by clicking here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Performance is excellent thanks to Snapdragon 855 and lots of RAM. This phone will handle any task you throw at it.
  • Dual selfie camera improves depth sensing and gives better results when taking selfies
  • Eventhough the battery is not the biggest on the market the phone will last surprisingly good. Even if you are gaming or watching videos.
  • Very wide dynamic range and excellent highlight protection
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • If you are not an advanced user, you might not benefit from this version and should probably stick to regular S10, otherwise you are just overpaying for your phone.
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

XIAOMI Mi 10T

One of the best phone for 400 dollars
CUSTOMER REVIEWS

KEY CAMERA FEATURES

MAIN CAMERA FRONT CAMERA VIDEO
Triple with 64 MP wide, 13 MP ultrawide and 5 MP macro Single 20 MP wide Up to 8K 30 fps

PHONE DESCRIPTION

Xiaomi Mi 10T is a brand’s flagship phone that was released in 2020. However, price-wise it’s more of a mid-ranger. It sells at a very reasonable price, especially if we take into account everything the phone offers us. It’s still isn’t the cheapest phone you will find, but it’s quite a bargain for such quality. The phone has a great chipset and amazing battery life. The camera performance is awesome and there aren’t any major issues here. Therefore, we decided to list this phone as one of the best phones for 400 dollars.

The quality of cameras is surprisingly good for a mid-range phone and is one of the phones strong points. The phone features triple camera setup, with one 64 MP main camera, one 13 MP ultrawide camera and a 5 MP macro camera for close-up shots. You will find the daytime photos to be extremely good. The phone really makes high quality photos. There is impressive amount of detail with almost no noise. Dynamic range is very good and photos appear very sharp. Colours look pretty natural. Zooming will cause loss of sharpness and detail and the quality will drop. However, photos still look good and beat some of the competition. Portraits look good and the edge detection works quite fine. Phone does a good job in low light as well. Sharpness is decent with good contrast and well preserved colours. The dynamic range remains quite wide.

As far as video recording goes, you are able to make 8K footages at 30 fps. There is also an option for 4K footages and regular 1080p footages. These videos all look great and have very good quality. Sharpness is good with the right amount of detail. Also, noise has been reduced to a minimum.

If you are interested in more details about the phone you can read more by clicking here.

WHAT WE LIKED
  • Performance is great thanks to Snapdragon 865
  • Camera is great with many options and settings
  • You will appreciate 144 Hz refresh rate of the screen. Especially when playing games or watching videos
  • Great battery capacity and an excellent battery life
  • Accurate target exposure in indoor and outdoor photos and videos
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
  • No wireless charging
LEARN MORE OR CHECK PRICE

Additional hardware information

Cameras

The phones these days feature multiple-camera setups. In fact, it is very difficult to find a phone with just one camera. Usually, they have at least two in the back and some even feature four. Now there is a logical explanation behind all this. The companies aren’t just stacking cameras left and right. Each camera is different and serves its own purpose. This is how we get the best results and enhance our photography experience. The most common camera types you will find are wide camera, ultrawide camera, telephoto camera, macro camera and ToF sensor.

Wide camera – It is also known as the main camera that we find on the rear side of the phone. You will notice differences in Megapixels that a certain camera has. A good main camera should have at least 12MP. Furthermore, it is also good if it has good autofocus and an optical image stabilizer, also known as OIS.

Ultrawide camera – It offers a wider field of view than the main camera. This way you can capture more into the image and it is more similar to what our eyes see. It can offer a great advantage when taking wider images such as family reunion photos for example. However, sometimes a photo can appear curved due to a wider angle and some objects might appear abnormally shaped.

Telephoto camera – It is normally used for zoomed-in shots that are taken from a distance. You can zoom in on a scene or subject and get closer without actually having to move. This can serve us well when we don’t want to approach the subject. A telephoto lens increases focal length. It brings objects closer to you.

Macro camera – It is used for close-up shots. We can capture images of small objects, such as insects or plants. These objects can appear big in a photo and we can capture a lot of detail. In fact, we can capture things that are too small to be visible to the naked eye.

ToF sensor – It is a piece of equipment that most flagship phones these days have. A ToF sensor can help you determine the distance between the camera and the object. It is actually a depth sensor that helps the phone create a three-dimensional map of the world. It uses infrared light to determine the distance between the objects and maps 3D space.

Dynamic range

The understanding of dynamic range can really help us improve our photos. Dynamic range describes the ratio between the maximum and minimum light intensities. In simple words, it tells us the difference between the lightest and darkest tones in an image.  Each device has its own dynamic range, which affects the output – that is our image. The wide the dynamic range, the better. You will stumble across this topic a lot in photography. So just remember that a wider dynamic range gives you better results. A wide dynamic range will allow you to capture more detail in brighter or darker areas. Otherwise, those areas will just appear very bright, nearly white or very dark, nearly black. So to create a good exposure, there must not be too bright or too dim parts.

An interesting fact is that human sight has a relatively high dynamic range. No camera can match it. Therefore some pictures of sunsets for example appear different than they are in real life.

Sharpness

Sharpness in photography stands for the overall clarity of the image. This combines focus and contrast. The subject must be clear, lifelike, and have a lot of details. This is when we can speak of sharpness.

Sharpness is very important in photography. Better sharpness means more detail. Furthermore, it also emphasizes the textures of the subject. You should always try and make your photos as sharp as you can. This way the images will appear more professional and interesting for the viewers.

For the best results, you will have to have good equipment as well as the right technique and well-developed skills. However, with the right gear, it can be much simpler. It is also important to know that sharpness is related to the resolution, as the number of pixels and their size affect overall sharpness.

Resolution

The image resolution relates to the number of pixels that are featured in an image. Higher resolutions simply mean that there are more pixels in the photo, whether lower resolutions mean that there are fewer pixels in a photo. The number of pixels also determines how much information is captured in an image. Or in other words, how much detail it can hold. So, the more the better, as it usually results in higher quality photos.

Changing the resolution, you are basically saying how many pixels you want to have per square inch. So it is always good to have a little more than less. After all, it affects the sharpness of the image as well, and you don’t want blurry photos. You want to capture as much information as you can. Cropping the photo, while keeping the same resolution will significantly drop the quality of the photo. That happens because you remove a certain amount of pixels, which basically means you lose a certain amount of information that should occupy that space. So avoid doing that.

There is a lot of talk about Full HD resolution these days. Here we have 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high image. Such resolution is very common among televisions these days. However, there is also Ultra HD, which is also known as 4K. This means that the resolution here is about 4000 pixels, although is usually a bit less – 3840 pixels.

Contrast

Contrast represents a visual ratio between different tones in an image. It defines color characteristics and affects areas such as highlights, shadows, colors, clarity, and textures. A simple way of putting it is to say that contrast is the scale of difference between black and white in the photo. High contrast means that there will be bright highlights and dark shadows, whether low contrast images have little difference between light and dark tones.

We also know different types of contrasts. There is Tonal contrast, which refers to dark and bright areas in the photo. Then we have Color contrast which means pairing warm and cold colors to make them stand out more. We also know Conceptual contrast, which helps us add depth and encourages viewers to engage with the photo. Then there’s also Texture contrast, where we combine rough and soft elements for an extra punch. All of the contrasts are very important if we want the image to look professional and appealing. So we must know how to use them if we want to achieve that magical result. They can help us tell a story and make certain things stand out more. So we can really be artistic with the contrast.

Best phone for 400 dollars – CONCLUSION

As you have learned choosing the best phone for 400 dollars is not a trivial task. The phone cannot compare to a professional DSLR camera with its small sensor size. Therefore, it is important that the sensor quality is at the top level and you will also need to play with some manual camera settings, as standard auto mode usually won’t cut it.

Any phone from our list will give you the best camera experience. So if you stay within our selection of best phones for 400 dollars you are good and ready to go. Have fun taking photos.

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