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Best Cheap Mobile Phones and Budget Smartphones 2016

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If you're looking for a cheap mobile phone best budget smartphone or cheap Android phones, you've come to the right place. Our round-up features only the top examples, so you can choose in confidence.

Over the last year we’ve tried some of our favourite phones ever. From sublime all-rounders like the Samsung Galaxy S7 to the gorgeously crafted HTC 10, to interesting beasts, like the modular LG G5 and Leica camera-equipped Huawei P9. There's also the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which is great but prone to exploding, and of course the recently announced Pixel phones direct from Google.

But, these high-end phones naturally come with wallet-busting price-tags and that instantly means they’re not for everyone. But fear not, even though the high-end market is better than ever, so is the budget range. In stores today there are a variety of great value for money smartphones that will meet 99% of people’s needs. We’ve got the latest stunner from Moto, a couple of bargains from China and even a few surprises along the way.

WATCH: Is the Moto G4 the best budget phone?

This week's best budget smartphones deals

Motorola Moto G4 Play at Amazon.co.uk | Was £159.99| Now £109

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 at Amazon.com | Was $220 | Now $196

Here to help buyers on a budget pick which is best for them, we’ve created the definitive list detailing the best value for money smartphones currently available.

Hit the 'Next' arrow or use the dropdown to start viewing the list, or read on for more buying advice.

CHEAP SMARTPHONES VS FLAGSHIP PHONES: What’s the difference?

Flagship smartphones are becoming more expensive by the year, but finding a good mobile is actually cheaper than ever. What’s more, cheap phones aren’t anywhere near as basic as they used to be. That said, what are the real differences?

Related: Best Mobile Deals: Top Smartphone offers this month

Design isn't necessarily one of them. Thanks to design and build quality improvements, you won’t feel like you’re carrying a brick around with you. Manufacturers such as Huawei, Motorola, Asus and ZTE have really raised the bar in this regard. You also don’t have to sacrifice features like 4G and NFC when buying a budget phone.

There’s a lot to smile about in the photography department too. Several of the smartphones in this list are equipped with HDR-enabled cameras, which could previously only be found on more expensive models. Cheap mobile phones tend to struggle more in challenging conditions, such as low light and in action scenes, but the ones in our round-up are all good general-purpose camera phones.

However, there are certain things you'll have to make do without, like a QHD display, for instance. Instead, 1080p and 720p screens are the order of the day. They're not as sharp as what you’ll find on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge or similar, but they’re still a big improvement over the display we had a few years ago.

Processing power is another department that usually takes a hit, but several of the smartphones in this round-up are still great for playing high-end games on.

Read more: Mobile Phone Buyer's Guide

Crucially, cheap smartphones get access to the same app stores as their more expensive counterparts, so you can download as many apps and games as your hardware can handle. If you do plan to download lots of apps, though, make sure you get a phone with a microSD card slot as many cheap phones have limited built-in storage.

The one thing you won't find, however, is a cheap iPhone – not unless you buy second-hand. If you must have an iPhone, we'd recommend getting an iPhone 5S or the iPhone SE.

How cheap?

All the phones on the list are priced below £200, with a couple coming in sub-£150 and even less than £100. Be warned though: A lot of phones we review under £100 are basically unusable thanks to meagre amounts of RAM, slow write speeds and low internal storage. If you can spend a little more, you’ll get a much better experience that’ll most likely last longer.

What should I avoid?

Don’t even bother with anything with less than 1GB RAM and 8GB storage, and try to go for something with 2GB RAM at least. Without this, you’ll notice far more app crashes and slow performance. The higher the internal storage the better, too, especially if you want to install apps and games. High-end and graphically intensive games like Asphalt 8 takes up about 2GB, so you’ll barely be able to fit that on to an 8GB phone.

xtvst

May 16, 2015, 5:27 pm

Moto G has an incredibly fragile display. Mine fell off of my pockey while I was sitting for dinner. The lcd display inside cracked. I had never dropped the phone before. Although there are tons of users facing the same problem, Motorola wont take responsibility by their faulty project and warranty won't cover it.
Wont fix it because 1. it will still be fragile and will obviously crack again at any smaller impact, 2. Theres a big chance I will get a chinese quality lcd display/touchscreen replacement while paying half of the phone's price for the fix up.
Is it a good device? Absolutely. But only buy it if you're Neil Armstrong (RIP) planning to use it in mission. Otherwise the budget you invested for the lots-of-benefits provided by MotoG turns to nothing.

leadpb

May 18, 2015, 3:20 pm

Got my Moto G last September. Thought it was excellent until charging problems occurred. had to go through a process of holding power and volume buttons to resume charging. This kept on happening over a couplle of weeks. Customer services were good but told to run phone down to zero power which I did. Phone died completely. Online comments reveal that others have suffered similar problems so maybe mine is not an isolated problem and a fault with the phone which others had complained about. Maybe updated models wouldn't have this flaw but shame as its ruined what I thought was an excellent and good value phone.

ElectricSheep

May 27, 2015, 2:43 pm

I think that at £200, the Nokia 830 should be considered. I've been using one after my Nexus packed up. Whilst I still dislike the WP8.1 tiles look (vastly improved with active tiles and folders), the OS is excellent these days and the hardware and build quality are second to none. The camera is superb. I thought i'd hate it and go back to Android in days, but I actually like it!

Phil_C

May 29, 2015, 11:44 am

Seriously, you guys need to check out the Prestigio 8500 duo. We have 3 of them in my household. They are £100 each, battery lasts 2 days plus and down slow down or break down in our experience. I had never heard of them before a Windows Server offer from ebuyer, but now they are a firm favourite.

ichuck7

June 1, 2015, 5:17 am

Where would the Sharp Aquous Crystal fit on this list? It's one of the only budget smartphones that looks really cool.

Amy

June 21, 2015, 5:40 pm

My daughter got that phone she said it was crap and took it back

ichuck7

June 21, 2015, 6:21 pm

Why did she say it was crap? I'm genuinely curious. Were her expectations too high? Did she compare it to a $700 iPhone?

Robert Daniels

June 24, 2015, 3:20 pm

My general advice for budget devices is to buy last year's flagship on the secondhand market. You can pick up something like the DROID Turbo or HTC M8 for ~$200. Much better values, in my opinion.

EDIT: and maybe even a two year old flagship for the ultra budget conscious, but only if the battery is replaceable.

Jared Jeanquart

September 9, 2015, 5:06 pm

It runs well and holds a huge sd card, and has more ram than usual for stuff in its class. Earpiece Phone calls sound slightly tinny, and you have to mash the phone to your ear; a problem for old people. I know someone who has one, and I've sold a few. One was returned.

Battery's unexceptional.

It's a very serviceable phone for the budget-conscious. The huge SD card potential is a big deal; you could fit a huge music/video library on it.

It's intended for the Asian market. The components are very reliable; needs a screen protector, but will last for a LONG time.

iFrank

March 19, 2016, 1:04 pm

May be referenced in the full review but the Honor 5X has a rare attribute, that is a Micro SD slot as well as dual sim provision.
I didn't find the overlaying skin a problem but an asset, just like Touchwiz is on some older Samsung's despite reviewers, who mostly do not live with these phones constantly declaring their love for naked android.

I returned mine because of not having NFC and the bother of two sizes of sim card being needed. One micro, one nano.

I hate nano even more than C type plug leads.
Apart from being smaller (a probable DIS advantage) there are no discernable advantages for the existence of nano sim cards. Unless you think the blessings by Apple is a Pro.
Cat- pidgeons.

Islam

April 18, 2016, 4:25 pm

Best budget phone is Huwaei Honor 5X from amazon £160.

fcabanski

May 8, 2016, 10:32 pm

These are expensive. Oh well, what can be expected from RT euros?

H Baker

May 31, 2016, 1:55 pm

Personally I would recommend a Ulefone Paris.

Cosmin Dinu

June 21, 2016, 3:38 pm

Cubot, Xiaomi, Umi those phones are cheaper and better. Where are they?
Moto G phones are awesome indeed, but a bit too expensive imo.

Awesome Bryner

July 11, 2016, 3:35 am

People do not know what cheap is. Cheap is not expensive. Some people like me can't pay more than $50. How stupid.

Dorothy Skoland

August 1, 2016, 6:29 pm

I had the same type of problems Only had phone 3 months

apuk101

August 8, 2016, 9:28 pm

The Moto G4 Plus is a lovely phone, but the battery life is unbelievably poor. I've returned mine because of this. Staring with a full charge, all background activity off and it being left for 24 hours (i.e. not used for ANYTHING), it had only10% battery left after the 24 hours. My old iPhone 5s - and no, I'm not an Apple fan - will do the same for 8 days,, and my iPhone SE - which I actually use as my main phone - lasts 2 days between charges.

So the Moto G4 Plus is fatally flawed, in my opinion, which came as a real disappointment to me.

Kent Bayley

September 9, 2016, 12:51 am

This presenter cannot speak properly and rushes his words so he is almost incomprehensible. I strongly suggest he gets some on camera tyraing.

GravitySucks

October 21, 2016, 9:52 am

Try yourself first before criticizing atleast he trying to provide some useful information that too free. Common this is not fair to be critique always.

GravitySucks

October 21, 2016, 9:54 am

Two year old is way too bad choice bec software upgrades will kill them that's a new mantra of these google and apple of the world.. :)

Dennis Durkop

October 23, 2016, 8:06 pm

ZTE ZMAX Pro is a killer phone for the price!

Loganberry

October 31, 2016, 1:29 am

I hear you -- it's so frustrating when you're looking to see what you can get for £50 (I'm in the UK) and 90% of roundups say something like "going for the [whatever] at £150 really is worth it". Well, yeah, I'm sure -- but that's precisely zero use if you need a phone quickly and don't have £150! If a site did a "What's the best phone for £50?" roundup that didn't repeatedly hammer you with how you need to spend more to get anything usable, I'd be all over it.

I mean, I bought a ZTE Blade Q Mini back in 2014 for £50 from Argos, largely because it was the only phone I could find at that price that had an IPS display. For my needs (simple browsing, Google Maps, Twitter, MP3s, the odd video or casual game) it was absolutely fine once unlocked. I want a roundup comparing the 2016 equivalents of that phone, not one telling me I should be spending three times as much!

rastech

November 10, 2016, 3:00 pm

I lost my BlackBerry phones when my boat went down (along with everything else) and needed to get two usable phones fast (one in America, an LG flip from K-Mart, another as soon as back in the UK) and ALMOST in your price range, I managed to get a SIM free Moto E 2nd gen from Tesco on offer. It was £79.99 if I had it with a Tesco sim (and locked to Tesco), and £57 SIM free (grins).
This has turned out to be a cracking phone, well built, great battery life if you turn off unnecessary power hogs, and I easily get 2 days with wifi constantly on. It's also small enough to be good in the pocket, and has an excellent screen with gorilla glass. It auto updated to Android 6.0.1 as soon as I got it, and runs it smoothly. Batteries are removable (I later bought a spare, but have never run out of power and needed to use it), and it has a microSD card slot.
Good cheap phones ARE out there, around the £50 mark, and it would be really nice to not have to stumble over them by accident. I think at the time, the Moto E 2nd gen list price was £109 though, so having guide prices may be a really tough challenge on being able to find what we need. Audio with it is very good too (I am almost completely deaf, so this is important), and, it has REAL GPS (also very important to me for Sailsafe anchor watch software and backup Navigation software).
My only actual real dislike with the Moto E 2nd gen, applies to all Android and Apple phones though - their touchscreen keyboards really suck big time,especially if you have finger joint problems. So when I am back in a position to get a much better spec phone again, I'll be getting a BlackBerry DTEK 60, to get that fantastic touchscreen keyboard again. With luck, it'll perhaps be a Christmas present.
Good luck finding a good phone.

Loganberry

November 10, 2016, 4:40 pm

Thanks! That Moto E is one I've considered -- annoyingly, I missed a very brief window in which a local Asda had it for £59. Sadly, I haven't seen it for anything like that price since.

Richard Lloyd

December 2, 2016, 12:36 pm

If you bought it between Black Friday and Cyber Monday from Amazon UK, then the best sub-200 quid phone in 2016 was the Blu Vivo 6 at 184.99 (since gone back up to 239.99). Mostly better specs than the Moto G4 Plus and a cheaper price too.

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