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Budget roundup: the latest low-cost iPhones and Android phones

Budget roundup: the latest low-cost iPhones and Android phones

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These phones won’t burn a hole in your wallet

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Essential Phone
Photo by Asa Mathat / Recode

Even if you’re trying to keep costs down, you’ll probably want to replace your old phone eventually. Whether it’s because the battery is no longer keeping a decent charge or because the operating system is no longer being updated, smartphones usually start losing their usefulness around their third year (or sometimes earlier).

The best way you can figure out your next phone is to check out the reviews and use them to decide what features are most important to you, and balance that against the cost of the device. Here are some recent reviews of budget smartphones to help you make that choice. Read the summary, and click on the title to get the whole story.

The Google Pixel 4A has a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.
Google Pixel 4A

GOOGLE PIXEL 4A REVIEW: BACK TO BASICS FOR $349

The price is the most important thing to know about the Pixel 4A. It makes the Pixel 4A’s many good points — like its flagship-tier camera — that much more impressive. It’s also the source of some (but not all) of its compromises, like the processor I worry won’t stand the test of time. In Android circles, Google’s Pixel line is often disdained for being at least half a step behind its competitors. Much of that scorn is deserved, but I think not all — and the Pixel 4A makes a much stronger case for itself than other Pixel phones.

GOOGLE PIXEL 4A 5G REVIEW: MORE THAN JUST A BIGGER BUDGET PHONE

The Google Pixel 4A 5G is a good phone for reasons that have almost nothing to do with the “5G” in the name. The ostensible reason for the phone to exist is to offer 5G connectivity to customers who want a more affordable phone. It starts at $499 for most carriers but costs $599.99 on Verizon. But the actual reason to buy one is much simpler: it offers a bigger screen, great cameras, and a faster processor compared to the standard Pixel 4A. It even has a headphone jack.

OnePlus Nord
OnePlus Nord
Photo by Jon Porter / The Verge

ONEPLUS NORD REVIEW: THE RIGHT COMPROMISES

It’s easy for the OnePlus Nord, with its starting price of £379 (around $484), to make it seem like OnePlus is going back to its roots. But since its flagship phones aren’t going anywhere, the midrange Nord is instead the next step in OnePlus expanding its lineup. OnePlus is stepping into a new era, not returning to an old one.

Motorola Moto E (2020) and Moto G Fast review: smartphone basics on a budget

Motorola’s ambition for the past few years has been to own the budget and midrange phone space. And the newly announced Moto G Fast and Moto E (no numbers anymore) are the final pieces of that puzzle for this year’s lineup, joining the previously released Moto G Power and G Stylus at even lower price points. Starting at $149.99 for the new Moto E and $199.99 for the Moto G Fast, the new phones mean that Motorola now has budget phones at every $50 increment between $149 and $299. That’s a lot of phones, and it turns out they aren’t very different from each other.

Apple iPhone SE
Apple iPhone SE
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

APPLE IPHONE SE REVIEW: EVERYTHING YOU NEED

I’m glad Apple has resurrected an old idea and released another iPhone SE. It starts at $399 for a model with 64GB of storage. For people who want an iPhone, it makes buying a brand-new phone for less than $700 a whole lot easier. Before this refresh, you’d be choosing between refurbs or switching over to Android. Pointing out that the iPhone SE is an iPhone is redundant, but it’s important for people who don’t want to switch. It’s also a guarantee of a base level of quality. That makes this review simple: how much are you giving up when you’re only paying $399?

TCL 10 PRO REVIEW: PREMIUM LOOKS, BUDGET PERFORMANCE

The $449 TCL 10 Pro is a little bit special because this is a big attempt from the company to make a name for itself in the world of smartphones. TCL’s logo is right there on the back of the device and, thankfully for TCL, it makes a great first impression thanks to a big screen, minimal bezels, and a sleek camera array.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 52 minutes ago Striking out

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Emma Roth52 minutes ago
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


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Youtube
Andrew Webster5:33 PM UTC
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


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The Verge
Andrew Webster4:28 PM UTC
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


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Andrew Webster1:05 PM UTC
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
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Twitter
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


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Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


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If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


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Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.