Best Cheap Phones and Budget Smartphones 2018: 8 great affordable phones

This is why you should trust our list of the best cheap phones:

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best Overall budget phone

Motorola Moto G6

Motorola's Moto G range of phones have become synonymous with punching above their weight, and that very much continues with the latest G6. It's a well-made smartphone that feels and performs better than its price would lead you to believe.

£219.99
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A number of great affordable smartphones ventured onto the market in 2017, with many more scheduled to launch as we move further into 2018. That doesn’t mean now isn’t a good time to pick up a new smartphone, though. The tech market is constantly changing, so now’s as good a time as any to score an upgrade.

How we select the best budget smartphones

But before we dive into our top picks for the best budget smartphones, we thought it would be best to explain how we came to selecting them. It all comes down to practice. We used each of the smartphones as our main handset for a week, moving all of our data across.

Best Value budget Phone

Huawei P Smart

The Huawei P Smart is our best overall pick for budget smartphone. It proves just how much you can get without spending a vast amount of money. Its 5.7-inch 18:9 screen in particular is a real standout, and puts it above other phones for this price point.

£179.95
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Dedicating all of our time to the device means we can see how it fares in the real world. We’re able to get an accurate reading of how long they last on a single charge, how much strain you can put on the processor before it starts to break a sweat and how good the camera is on a whim.

So now you know how we select the best budget smartphones, let’s take a look at our highlights.

Moto G6

Moto G6

Pros:

  • Fantastic software experience
  • Lovely screen
  • Well built for the price

Cons:

  • Some performance frustrations, especially with the camera

The best budget phone you can buy right now is the Moto G6. We’ve loved entries in the G series before, and the G6 could be one of the best yet. It has a lovely 1080p screen, fantastic software experience and it feels really good thanks to the glass body and ergonomic curves.

The Snapdragon 450 processor and 3GB of RAM churns through most tasks with ease. There’s 32GB storage as standard, and you can also add a microSD card to expand this further.

Our only real disappointment is with the camera. The actual photos from the 12-megapixel shooter are good, but the slow camera app makes for a frustrating experience.

Buy Now: Moto G6 from Amazon for £219 / $309

Moto G6 Play

Pros:

  • Fantastic software experience
  • Good looks
  • Well built for the price

Cons:

  • Slow camera

The cheapest entry in Moto’s 2018 G-series is far from flashy, but if it’s value for money you’re after then you can’t go wrong. Where the Moto G6 Play beats its pricier sibling is when it comes to battery life. The endurance here is fantastic and if battery life and value are your biggest wants then you won’t go wrong.

Buy now: Moto G6 Play from Amazon for £169.99 / $229

Honor 10

Pros:

  • Sleek design
  • Powerful hardware
  • Good value

Cons:

  • EMUI Android skin is bloated
  • Some performance bugs

£400 is the upper limit of the affordable phone market, but when it comes to value for money, it’s hard to beat the Honor 10.

The phone follows the same strategy as past Honor phones. It aims to offer users the best parts of Huawei’s current flagship, the P20, with a few minor hardware compromises. The end result is a beautiful, feature-packed Android device with features and hardware traditionally seen on significantly more expensive handsets.

Highlights include a stellar 5.84-inch 2280p x 1080p FHD+ screen that’s best in class at this price, a powerhouse Kirin 970 CPU that blitzes through 3D gaming, and an above-average dual-sensor rear camera.

The 24-megapixel and 16-megapixel, f/1.8 dual-camera doesn’t have Leica branding, but it’s one of the best you’ll find for the money. The added AI mode, which auto-optimises the camera settings for “500+ scenarios in 22 categories” in real-time, also makes it an ideal option for those who aren’t particularly clued up on camera tech.

The only slight downside is the Honor 10’s EMUI Android skin, which adds a few minor software bugs and bloatware applications.

Huawei P Smart

Pros:

  • Great 18:9 screen
  • Plenty of value
  • Slick design

Cons:

  • Annoying EMUI software
  • No fast-charging
  • Some issues with build quality

Huawei’s latest budget smartphone has a lot going for it – with the most notable feature being its stunning 5.7-inch 18:9 screen. It also sports a fast Kirin 659 CPU, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, as well as a 12MP dual-camera setup. That’s an awful lot of bang for a handset that costs a mere £229 outright.

Buy Now: Huawei P Smart for £199 / $205 from Amazon 

Honor 9 Lite

Pros:

  • All-screen design for less than £200
  • Crisp 5.65-inch 18:9 screen
  • Camera reasonably proficient

Cons:

  • EMUI interface doesn’t show Android at its best
  • Glass back questionable design decision
  • Second camera only partially successful
  • No NFC

The Honor 9 Lite is a budget smartphone aimed at budding mobiles photographers. It sports a 5.65-inch 18:9 Full HD screen, a dual-lens camera setup (13MP + 2MP) on both the front and rear, and a “mirror-like” premium glass finish – an incredible amount of tech for a smartphone that costs less than £200.

Buy Now: Honor 9 Lite for £169 from Carphone Warehouse

Moto G6 Plus

Moto G6 Plus

Pros:

  • So much tech for your cash
  • Good performance
  • Jazzed-up design

Cons:

  • Not water-resistant

The Moto G6 Plus is well-equipped in almost all areas. The 12MP rear-facing camera is reliable, though nothing to write home about, while the Snapdragon 630 CPU and 4GB of RAM – depending on the storage variant you opt for – is a smooth mid-range combination that ensures minimal slowdown.

Our main qualm with the Moto G6 Plus is that, unlike older models, it isn’t water-resistant. Still, this is a fantastic device with a great screen at a price that can’t really be beaten.

EE Hawk

Pros:

  • Low price
  • Smart glass-backed design

Cons:

  • Mild performance blips
  • Low-resolution screen
  • Locked to EE

If you’re on EE, or are willing to switch, and don’t want to spend more than £150, the Hawk is a great pick. It’s armed with a 5-inch 720p screen that, truth be told, isn’t the best on the market; a MediaTek MT6750 CPU; 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable internal storage (via microSD) – overall, a recipe for success.

Other notable internals include a 13MP rear-facing camera, an 8MP selfie shooter and a 2500mAh cell, the latter of which sounds quite small when a lot of high-end smartphones have more than 300mAh, But, thanks the Hawek’s smaller, low-resolution screen, its more than capable of surviving 24-hours on a single charge.

Buy Now: EE Hawk for £119 from EE

Xiaomi Mi A1

Pros: 

  • Stock Android
  • Dual cameras
  • Fast fingerprint scanner
  • Good performance

Cons:

  • No water- or dust-resistance
  • Missing NFC
  • Lack of OIS on the camera

The Xiaomi Mi A1 is Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi’s latest budget handset, featuring a 5.5-inch IPS screen, a Snapdragon 625 CPU and 4GB of RAM, in addition to a 12MP dual-camera and 64GB of expandable (once again, via microSD) internal storage. Like the Moto G5, however, it isn’t water-resistant.

Its sub-£200 price tag should make that news much easier to stomach, though, as should word that the Xiaomi Mi A1 is on the list to receive the much-anticipated Android 8.0 Oreo software update in the not-too-distant future – something to bear in mind if you’re after the latest flavour of Android.

Buy Now: Xiaomi Mi A1 for £189.16 from Toby Deals UK

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