Best budget phones with (near) bezel-less displays

Best budget phones with (near) bezel-less displays

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The smartphone industry is a notoriously fickle beast where bold innovations are just a few fatal steps away from becoming the latest flash-in-the-pan gimmick. Every now and again though, there’s a design quirk that sticks the landing and becomes an overnight game-changer. In 2017, that honor undoubtedly goes to bezel-less (or near-bezel-less) displays.

While doing away with unsightly bezels isn’t a brand new idea in the mobile sphere, this year it has firmly hit the mainstream, with Android behemoths Samsung and LG going almost all screen with their next-generation Galaxy and G series flagships – not to mention the Andy Rubin-backed newcomer Essential and its debut smartphone, the PH-1. With the number of OEMs moving away from traditional “chin and forehead” phones increasing with every passing announcement, it seems only a matter of time before bezel-less smartphones take over the (mobile) world for good.

  • Xiaomi Mi MIX review
  • Essential Phone review

Innovation comes with a cost, however, and that cost has been skyrocketing price tags for buyers, with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 topping the bunch at an eye-watering total of $929.

Thankfully the breakout of bezel-less flagships has led to a spate of cheaper alternatives hitting the market. Some boast the kind of flagship-grade specs you would expect from Android’s elite manufacturers, while others are mid-to-low-end offerings for savvy buyers with a much lighter budget.

In this roundup, we’re looking at the bezel-less beauties you can take home without having to break the bank.

Editor’s note – We will update this list as more devices hit the market.

Sharp Aquos S2

Back in 2014, Sharp released the Android KitKat-powered Aquos Crystal which was one of the first truly bezel-less smartphones to come to market. Fast-forward a few years and Sharp is looking to go one better with the Aquos S2.

At a glance, you might be forgiven for thinking you are looking at Essential’s PH-1, as the selfie camera spills out from the top frame in a way that mirrors the start-up’s marquee release, but a small logo and home button/fingerprint sensor on the bottom bezel differentiates it from Rubin’s magnum opus.

Sporting a Galaxy S8 and Xiaomi Mi MIX-beating 87.5% screen-to-body ratio, Sharp claims its 1080 x 2040 resolution 5.5-inch LCD display will actually feel like a 5-inch handset in your palm.

As for the specs, the Aquos S2 comes in two variants, although both come with a dual-camera module and fall squarely into the mid-range category, with the basel model packing Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 630, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB internal storage (expandable up to 256 GB). That also means it’s priced accordingly, however, with the entry-level model costing just $370.

One major caveat is that the Japanese company is currently selling the Aquos S2 exclusively in China, although considering the reasonable price tag importing one should be a viable option.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 2040 x 1080 resolution, 420 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 64 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • Dual 12 and 8 MP rear cameras, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,020 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • 141.8 x 72 x 7.9 mm, 140 g
SEE IT AT GEARBEST

LG Q6

LG gave its flagship family the shot in the arm it needed with the G6’s stunning 18:9 aspect ratio-toting FullVision display, so why not continue the bezel-obliteration with its cheaper offerings? That’s clearly the thought process LG went with for its current trio of Q range handsets – the LG Q6, LG Q6 Plus, and LG Q6a.

Despite dropping the screen resolution to 2160 x 1080 (with a lower pixel density of 442 ppi) across the board, each Q6 device inherits the razor-thin bezels and elongated display that successfully rebooted LG’s flagship after the G5’s modular misstep.

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Each phone sports an aluminum chassis and an impressive camera suite consisting of a 13 MP rear-facing sensor, alongside a 5 MP wide-angle front shooter. Qualcomm’s entry-level Snapdragon 435 SoC powers each handset, while a Face Recognition feature counterbalances the lack of a fingerprint sensor.

LG has been coy when it comes to confirming a wider release schedule, but the standard Q6 can be picked up in the UK for a respectable £249 ($321).

Specs

  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 2160 x 1080 resolution, 442 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor
  • 3 GB of RAM
  • 32 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 13 MP rear camera, 5 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • 142.5 x 69.3 x 8.1 mm, 149 g
BUY LG Q6 FROM AMAZON INDIA

Maze Alpha

Among the legion of Chinese electronics companies entering the smartphone rat race is Shenzhen-based Maze Mobile – an OEM that named itself after a recurring symbol in HBO’s blockbuster TV series Westworld. How exactly that mysterious tidbit extends to the company’s products is unclear, but when you’re offering a Mi MIX-alike for less than half the price, it doesn’t really matter.

On sale for around $190, the Alpha is the very definition of a bargain. Aside from a sizable “chin”, Maze’s budget handset cuts no corners when it comes to delivering a premium bezel-free experience, with only razor-thin slithers of redundant screen space framing the 1080 x 1920 resolution (376 ppi) IPS LCD display.

Under the hood it’s no slouch either, with an octa-core Mediatek Helio P25 processor backed by a meaty 4 GB of RAM, and a 4,000 mAh non-removable battery. Not content with adopting one current hot trend, Maze has also included a 13 MP + 5 MP dual camera, although the latter seems intended to assist with general mobile photography duties rather than offering a unique monochrome sensor like the Huawei P10, or true wide-angle shots like LG’s G6.

Specs

  • 6-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 376 ppi
  • Mediatek Helio P25 processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 64 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • Dual 13 and 5 MP rear cameras, 5 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 4,000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 159.8 x 82.5 x 8.1 mm, 225 g
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