Best overall: Moto G5S Plus

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Note: While the Moto G5S Plus is still a great option, the Moto G6 is on its way and may be worth waiting for.

The Moto G5 Plus was already one of our favorite phones in the sub-$300 price range, but the newer Moto G5S Plus (the 'S' stands for "Special Edition") makes some small improvements that lead to an even better phone that still won't break the bank.

With the Moto G5S Plus, you get terrific build quality, an eye-catching Blush Gold finish, and a dual camera system — on top of all the other benefits the Moto G5 Plus already included, like a large 1080p display, a fast fingerprint sensor, and the useful Moto Actions gestures. Better yet, if you can't front the cost, Motorola offers financing through Affirm when you order from its online store.

Bottom line: The Moto G5S Plus offers great value for a phone under $300 and sets a new standard for powerful, inexpensive phones moving forward.

One more thing: Best Buy has the Moto G5S Plus for $40 off, so you can pick up our top recommendation for just $239.99.

Why the Moto G5S Plus is the best

In our review of the G5S Plus, we still recommended the standard Moto G5 Plus over the special edition because the difference in price didn't quite justify the latter option's minor improvements, but with Best Buy's discounted price, it's a different story.

The Moto G5S Plus has just about everything you could ask of a phone at this price. The design is attractive and well-built, the software is clean yet clever with the addition of Moto Actions and Moto Display, and the speaker sounds great. The best part? The Moto G5S Plus works on all U.S. carriers — yes, even Sprint and Verizon.

Best for navel-gazing: Honor 7X

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If you like a little pizazz, the Honor 7X is a great alternative to the Moto G5S Plus with a more modern design. Its 18:9 display is big and vibrant, and the dual cameras are some of the best in its price range. The Kirin 659 chipset keeps things running smoothly, and the 3,340mAh battery provides excellent longevity. Stock Android purists may not love its EMUI software, but the recent update to Android Oreo and EMUI 8.0 keeps it feeling modern.

Bottom line: The EMUI software isn't for everyone, but at $200, the Honor 7X is a terrific phone with good camera performance, great battery life, and a more modern design than any other phone on this list.

One more thing: The Honor 7X is not compatible with the major CDMA networks in the U.S.

Best for stock Android: Nokia 6 (2018)

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At $269, the Nokia 6.1 (otherwise known as the 2018 Nokia 6) is the best way to get stock Android for cheap. It's part of Nokia's Android One lineup, combining unadulterated stock Android with an aluminum unibody design that feels far more premium than its pricetag would have you believe. The 5.5-inch 1080p LCD display looks fantastic, and it has one of the better cameras in its segment. On top of that, Nokia releases monthly security updates to keep its phones protected — a rarity for low-cost phones.

Bottom line: You'd be hard-pressed to find a better-made phone at this price point, and the regular software updates are icing on the cake.

One more thing: The Nokia 6.1 ships with Android 7.1.1 Nougat, though Nokia has said that an Oreo update is already in the works.

Best overall: Moto G5S Plus

See at Motorola

The Moto G5 Plus was already one of our favorite phones in the sub-$300 price range, but the newer Moto G5S Plus (the 'S' stands for "Special Edition") makes some small improvements that lead to an even better phone that still won't break the bank.

With the Moto G5S Plus, you get terrific build quality, an eye-catching Blush Gold finish, and a dual camera system — on top of all the other benefits the Moto G5 Plus already included, like a large 1080p display, a fast fingerprint sensor, and the useful Moto Actions gestures. Better yet, if you can't front the cost, Motorola offers financing through Affirm when you order from its online store.

Bottom line: The Moto G5S Plus offers great value for a phone under $300 and sets a new standard for powerful, inexpensive phones moving forward.

One more thing: Best Buy has the Moto G5S Plus for $40 off, so you can pick up our top recommendation for just $239.99.

Update May 2018: Replaced last year's Nokia 6 with the newer Nokia 6.1, and added a disclaimer about the upcoming Moto G6.