The best cheap Android phone ever was quietly announced this week

Nokia 2.2 from HMD Global

“Good phones are getting cheap and cheap phones are getting good.”

It’s a popular saying that quite a few in the tech YouTube crowd have been spouting for years now. Many give credit to Marques “MKBHD” Brownlee for popularizing the phrase, but plenty have repeated it since.

The ultra-premium device market is going strong with $900+ phones from LG, Sony, Apple, and Samsung. At the same time, there are a ton of compelling options from OnePlus, Huawei, and others which offer a premium flagship experience that doesn’t break the bank.

The most interesting part of the Android ecosystem, for me at least, has always been in the shallow end of the pool. The current entry-level and mid-tier devices offered from the likes of Motorola, Nokia, Huawei, and others give customers compelling options without spending an entire paycheck (or more).

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This week brought news of the most recent refresh of Nokia’s low-end device, the Nokia 2. While not the cheapest device the company offers, it offers a great balance of specs, performance, design, and cost-efficiency that few others do. With the new Nokia 2.2, I think we are looking at the best inexpensive Android device ever to hit the market.

We covered the device in depth here, but here are the cliff notes: 5.71-inch LCD display with a notch, 13 MP main + 5 MP front-facing cameras, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and Android 9 Pie via the Android One program.

What excites me the most are the inclusion of hardware features that have been around forever, but may have been long-since forgotten. The Nokia 2.2 features a microSD card slot, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a removable battery. Yes, a phone with a removable battery is coming to market in 2019. I can barely contain my excitement.

The Nokia 2.2 is only $140 so you give up some creature comforts here. There’s no fingerprint scanner, and instead of a USB C port, we get the older micro USB standard. Honestly, I’m fine with that.

A fingerprint scanner is nice, and something that I’m now used to, but I can live without it. Since this device is pointed at the low-end of the market, I think it’ll be in the hands of a lot of first time owners who won’t really miss it.

Yeah, not having USB C does suck, but I still have a ton of micro USB cables laying around the house. Many of the speakers and other accessories I own charge via micro USB so it’s not that big of a deal.

Cheap phones are getting better and better with each release and I think the Nokia 2.2 is a new high point.

Other phone makers like Motorola who have made their name in inexpensive devices might want to take note of where Nokia cuts corners – and where it still delivers.

We don’t expect the cameras to be anything to write home about, but just fine for social media. There’s no glass back here, but a harder-to-damage body that will stand up to damage over time resides.

Stock Android should run just fine on the entry-level MediaTek A22 processor, and with two years of software updates and three years of security updates, it’ll see upgrades well into 2022. That’s pretty great for $140.

The worst thing about the Nokia 2.2? The wait. Announced in the middle of July, the device won’t hit store shelves at Best Buy or Nokia’s website until August. We’ll be waiting with bated breath.

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