That’s great news for Chad, the latest Gizmodo reader featured in our “What Gadget Should You Buy” series, in which we help folks find the best devices for their specific needs. Chad is in the market for a budget-to-midrange Android smartphone that costs somewhere between $300 and $600 and operates on Verizon’s network. It needs to run social media apps like Twitter and TikTok, play music saved directly on the phone (Chad, we need to talk about streaming services), and power other basic tasks while podcasts (like Gadgettes, I assume) play in the background.
I’d have a hard time recommending a good budget or mid-range Android phone just a few years ago. Recently, phone manufacturers have devoted special attention to this section of the market, releasing sub-premium models that offer the majority of the features found in flagship models.
Chad attends concerts and festivals, so a good camera is mandatory for capturing the sights and sounds of these often difficult-to-shoot events. He also doesn’t want a phone filled with bloatware (though Verizon will inevitably add a fair share). Our reader didn’t include any other requirements, but said his current Motorola G7 Plus has the “worst fingerprint scanner I have ever used,” so I’ll try to rectify that annoyance below.
I also need to throw in a word of caution here: the Pixel 6 for Verizon costs $700—putting it outside of Chad’s budget. The Verizon version is $100 more expensive because it includes bands for the network’s mmWave 5G technology. I recommend just paying $600 for the unlocked version that supports sub-6GHz bands only.
First, I’m going to cheat a bit and go straight to the top of Chad’s budget by recommending the Google Pixel 6. It starts at $599, has a fantastic camera, and the under-display fingerprint scanner works just fine. I’ve been using one for the past few months and already recommended it to several other folks. It’s not perfect, though: the phone is large and Google still needs to iron out the occasional software bug.
That isn’t much of a loss: mmWave is super fast, sure, but only available on certain street corners in certain neighborhoods of a few supported cities. My bigger concern comes from Verizon customers who report SIM card issues and updates being delayed, though it seems these problems have been mostly resolved.
Another option is to wait for the Pixel 6a, which will likely replace the Pixel 5a 5G when it arrives in the coming weeks or months. Expected to cost around $450, the Pixel 6a will save Chad a few hundred dollars and fit comfortably within his budget. We don’t know too much about the phone, but Google’s current budget-friendly device, the Pixel 5a 5G, is the best value on the market. Its eventual successor feels like a safe bet.