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Best Cheap Mobile Phones and Budget Smartphones 2016

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Moto G4 Plus 9

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

Over the last six months 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.

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?

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.

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