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Best Cheap Mobile Phones and Budget Smartphones 2016

by

note 1

6 / 10

Reviewed by Damien McFerran

10 June 2016

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3

Read full Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 review

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Big and cheap: the perfect combo?

Key features
  • 5.5-inch 1080p display
  • Dual SIM
  • Fingerprint sensor
Xiaomi isn’t the biggest name in the UK or the US, but the Chinese brand sells a lot of phones worldwide. And most of them are good, some are even great. We’re huge fans of the Xiaomi Mi5, but the RedMi Note 3 is a good pick if you’re after something even cheaper.

It’s a big phone, but it has a Moto G4 matching 5.5-inch screen with a 1080p resolution and it looks good. It’s a strong performer, too, thanks to the MediaTek Helio X10 CPU and either 2 or 3GB RAM. In our tests it outranked the Samsung Galaxy S6 in benchmarks, which is quite impressive.

Like many of the phones on this list, the camera is one of the biggest differentiators between it and the flagships. It comes loaded with a 13-megapixel camera with an f/2.2 aperture that is capable of taking social media worthy snaps – though colours are often a bit muted and there’s severe shutter-lag when the lights aren’t on.

Software could be an issue for some, especially if you prefer your phone running a light skin. Xiaomi is one of the worst offenders when it comes to completely reworking Android and almost all of Google’s Material Design has been covered up on the RedMi Note 3. It’s not ugly, but it feels more like iOS 9 than Lollipop.

The battery life is impressive and it’s one of the only all-metal phones in this round-up.

Buy Now at Amazon.co.uk from £189.99 | Amazon.com from $187.99

At time of review the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 was available for £219.

Our Score:

8

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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.

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