This is not as timely as I’d hoped, but given that the Galaxy S9 is out and deals are everywhere, I wanted to give mention to a phone line which isn’t even on the radar of most Americans. The Galaxy A series from Samsung has a lot of the nice features of the more well-known S series, but are sold completely unlocked and at a much lower price. They generally have higher end features like IP6X waterproofing, and have a nice speaker placement on the side of the phone versus the bottom which I really like.
Galaxy A5 (2017)
If you prefer your fingerprint reader on the front of your phone, or just like a smaller phone that fits in smaller or even average-sized hands, I highly recommend the Galaxy 2017 A5, which can be had on eBay for well under $300. I would still be using it myself as a daily driver, except that with whole-device encryption enabled (for work of course) there seemed to be some minor stuttering in Youtube. This may have been a temporary issue but something to keep in mind if you need full encryption. This device is waterproof, has great battery life, and something I still love on phones, capacitive home and back buttons! I wish these had not fallen out of fashion recently.
One thing to keep in mind is that this line has been around for while, and the older versions are not quite as nice, so I’d definitely stick to the 2017 A5.
Galaxy A8 (2018)
The 2018 Galaxy A8 is a little bulkier than the S8 in terms of bezels (which I don’t even notice when using a case), and has a more efficient CPU meaning it easily lasts a full day on a charge. As nice as the S8 was, I was constantly coming close to 0% battery by the end of the day and I’m not a particularly heavy phone user. The A8 has an outstanding battery life, nice fluid experience, and a pretty incredible selfie camera. The main drawback to the A8 is the rear camera. If you are obsessed with photos, then definitely consider a flagship like the S9, Google Pixel 2 (or 2XL) or, yes, the iBone if that’s your thing. But if this sounds like your thing, it also can be had for around 400 bucks on eBay.
I just want to raise awareness about less known phones out there which are a really good value for most consumers who don’t need mini photo studios in their hand.