Going over some of our favorite recent devices and comparing it to our lists of best phones, we found that we were missing a number of them as they just didn’t quite fit into our existing categories. Fortunately, there was a simple enough solution, we’ve created a new list to capture these devices, the best budget flagships. These are devices that have specs to compete with the top tier flagships, but they don’t come with that top tier pricing.
At the moment this list is comprised entirely of devices that use either a Snapdragon 855 or equivalent CPU (Kirin 980 for example) and are available for less than $600, making them substantially cheaper than flagship smartphones selling for $900+.
Our full review of the ZTE Axon 10 Pro is still coming, but we are ready to say it belongs on this list. The Axon 10 Pro won’t necessarily blow you away on any specific spec or its design, but as Nick said in his first impressions it definitely checks all the boxes. There’s the Snapdragon 855, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, triple-camera array, a microSD slot, and a 4,000 mAh battery. It has a teardrop notch and an embedded fingerprint sensor in the 6.5-inch FHD+ display. All of this and thankfully ZTE has gone minimal on its skinning of Android these days, so it’s a fairly stock experience that should see updates at a reasonable pace. Available for around $550, this is another solid contender in the budget flagship range.