What’s the best cheap phone you can buy?
Don’t want to splash out on a Galaxy Note 10? We’ve ranked all the latest and greatest affordable phones we’ve reviewed that are currently available to help you find the perfect smartphone for your budget and needs.
If you’re on the market for a cheap phone that won’t break the bank you’re in luck. The affordable phone market has come on leaps and bounds over the past few years. This is because, where in the past you could get a phone that was good, or cheap, never both, companies have made great strides bringing innovations in the top end down to the affordable market.
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These days it’s not uncommon for affordable phones to have everything from wireless charging all the way up to advanced dual-sensor camera setups. While the development is undeniably awesome, it also makes knowing which cheap phone is best for your specific needs a little tricky. Which is why we’ve created a definitive list of all the best cheap phones we’ve reviewed that are still available, making it quick and easy for you to find the one that’s right for you.
All the phones on the list, save a few special cases, are below £350. Scroll down to see our in-depth list, or if you’re in a rush check out our quick fire top 10 below.
- Great camera: Xiaomi Redmii Note 7
- Best all-rounder for £300: Moto G7 Plus
- Flagship-quality: Xiaomi Mi 9
- Pro performance for less: OnePlus 7
- Great battery: Moto G7 Power
- Good value: Honor 10 Lite
- Solid all rounder: Huawei P Smart 2019
- Super-cheap: Vodafone Smart V10
- All round quality: Xiaomi Mi A2
- Superb all rounder: Pocophone F1
Can I trust brands I don’t recognise?
The UK has seen an influx of new manufacturers entering into the phone market of late, with Chinese giants Xiaomi and Oppo both joining the fray within the last year alone.
Whether you know the brand or not, don’t worry. Each handset in this roundup has been put through our full review process, so if it’s in this list, it’s been deemed a worthwhile purchase based on the judgement of our experienced mobile team. We talk more about this below.
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What about Huawei and Honor phones?
Due to the recent retraction of Huawei’s Google Play Services license, future Huawei and Honor phones won’t be able to access Google Play Services and as a result many Android apps, including YouTube and Gmail. Both Huawei and Google have confirmed Huawei and Honor phones, like the ones in this round-up, will continue to retain access to updates for the time being.
Select devices are also confirmed to still be on track to receive the next major release of Android, Android Q.
Until we know more about the situation we’re leaving the scores on all our Huawei reviews and this article unchanged, however, as the situation progresses we’ll revisit this.
Is it best to buy phones from carriers/networks or elsewhere?
It all depends on what you’re after. Buying from carriers usually presents you with the opportunity to pair your phone with a competitive contract. If you’re looking to buy a handset SIM-free it’s always safest to buy direct from the company or a certified retailer.
Do any of these phones support 5G?
With 5G in its infancy, so far the technology remains reserved for specialised models of top tier phones, like the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. At the time of writing, the most affordable phone boasting 5G right now is the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, which is a Vodafone UK exclusive, priced at £49 upfront, plus £54 a month for 24 months.
5G won’t trickle down to the affordable smartphone market until the technology gains mainstream adoption and appeal, so don’t expect anything 5G at budget prices right now.
How we select the best budget smartphones
But before we dive into our top picks, 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.
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 well the camera performs in a range of conditions and set-ups. You can find out how we test phones here or click on each review link below for the full detail on each.
So now you know how we select the best budget smartphones, let’s take a look at our top picks.
1. Xiaomi Redmi Note 7
Big camera, small price
- Impressive performance
- Long-lasting battery
- Great screen
- Mono speaker
- Busy interface
- No NFC
If you want a killer camera and your budget is particularly tight, the Redmi Note 7 is astounding value for money. The phone is weighed down a touch by Xiaomi’s own MIUI 10 software but beyond that, this is an impressively well-rounded phone.
The star feature is its 48-megapixel primary camera (which comes supported by a 5-megapixel depth module) – it’s the same sensor as you’d find in everything from the Motorola One Vision to the OnePlus 7 Pro and while there’s no optical image stabilisation (OIS) to speak of here, as on more expensive handsets, it’s a superb snapper setup all the same.
The Redmi’s extended Full HD+ IPS screen doesn’t disappoint either, offering great colour reproduction, good viewing angles and decent legibility outdoors, not always a certainty with more budget-friendly phones.
- Read our Redmi Note 7 review
2. Moto G7 Plus
The best all-rounder for under £300
- Good cameras, front and back
- Solid value
- Classy hardware design
- Deep notch
- Dynamic range and night shooting are not best-in-class
The Moto G7 Plus is the top dog in Motorola’s 2019 G-series lineup and is currently the best phone you’ll get for under £300.
For your money, you get a swish mixed metal and glass phone with a teardrop notch that looks and feels more expensive than most competing handsets this price.
Under-the-hood it has surprisingly good specs. The biggest highlight is the upgraded camera. The G7 Plus features dual rear sensor setup that combines a 16-megapixel main sensor with a 5-megapixel depth sensor.
With an improved f/1.7 aperture, larger 1.22µm pixel rate and OIS, on paper, this makes the G7 Plus’ rear snapper one of the best you’ll find on an affordable phone.
Other key specs include wonderfully fast Turbo Charging, a near untouched version of Android 9.0 and nippy Snapdragon 636 CPU that keeps things running smoothly.
- Read our Moto G7 Plus review
3. Xiaomi Mi 9
A true flagship for half the price
- Versatile camera
- Stunning value
- Fantastic performance
- Excellent screen
- No IP rating
Normally, this list is comprised of phones under £350. We feel that’s a fair price and a value we’re happy to call ‘budget’. However, in the case of the Xiaomi Mi 9, we simply had to include it here as it’s such good value for money.
For the £499 price, you get a phone that would normally cost double that. Here you’ve got the latest Snapdragon 855 chipset, a 6.4-inch OLED display, three cameras including a 48-megapixel main sensor and fast wireless charging. You don’t get those kinds of specs with any other phone at this price.
Sure, there’s no water resistance and it’s packing in a flat screen, but the next best devices are at least £150 more expensive and up.
- Read our Xiaomi Mi 9 review
4. OnePlus 7
Pro performance for less
- Oxygen OS user experience
- Top-notch performance
- Great battery life
- Lacks the Pro’s camera versatility
- No wireless charging
- No water resistance
In the same vein as the Mi 9, OnePlus’ latest smartphone, the OnePlus 7, offers a similar amount of bang for your buck, albeit without some of the 9’s more advanced features. The OnePlus is really worth looking at against its launch sibling and beefier brother, the OnePlus 7 Pro. There’s a £150 price difference between the base model of each so it’s important to understand what the standard 7 losses and retains.
For starters, there’s a more modest 48-megapixel rear camera, accompanied by a 5-megapixel depth sensor, there’s slower 20W Fast Charging in place of the Pro’s 30W Warp Charge tech and the screen and design are much closer in nature to last year’s OnePlus 6T than the 7 Pro.
Despite all of this, however, it is still a powerful and worthwhile handset for 2019, with the latest Snapdragon 855, up to 8GB of RAM, solid battery life and OnePlus’ tried and tested Oxygen OS user experience.
- Read our OnePlus 7 review
5. Moto G7 Power
Battery life for days
- Stunning battery life
- Robust performance
- Nice look and feel
- Superb value
- Average camera
- Muffled voice calls
The Moto G7 Power represents incredible value for money. For £179 you’re getting a phone with one the longest-lasting batteries we’ve ever reviewed, along with a nice design and performance that won’t have you hankering for more oomph.
On the negative side of things, call quality is so-so and the camera is weak – so if you’re on a tight budget and you’d rather have a phone with a standout camera than a Herculean battery, you should check out the aforementioned Moto G7 Plus instead. At £269, it’s more expensive but still excellent value for under £300.
- Read our Moto G7 Power review
6. Honor 10 Lite
A lot of phone for under £200
- Attractive design for the price
- Decent battery life
- Included case
- Feature rich
- Heavy skinned software missing key features
- Prone to fingerprints
- Plastic build
If you’re looking for a capable phone that isn’t part of the Motorola family, Honor’s handsets would be our first port of call. The Honor 10 2018 flagship is a superb phone in its own right that can be had for under £400, but for half the price the Honor 10 Lite is also worth considering.
Boasting the latest version of Android Pie, topped with Honor’s own Emotion UI 9 overlay, the 10 Lite’s user experience is feature-packed, offering tons in the way of customisation, as well as AI-enhanced premium features like integrated retail image search through the phone’s HiVision tool; there’s even a headphone jack which helps grant the phone FM radio functionality.
As for those rear cameras, the dual 13/2-megapixel pairing takes usable shots in most conditions, with AI scene recognition for automated settings adjustment built in, plus there’s a dedicated Portrait mode, an impressive night mode and a rich suite of beauty tools for selfie lovers who decide to make use of the impressively crisp 24-megapixel front-facing camera.
- Read our Honor 10 Lite review
7. Huawei P Smart 2019
A capable, affordable phone in early 2019
- Robust camera experience
- Feature-rich software
- Poor earpiece speaker placement
- Fingerprint-prone plastic build
- microUSB is now dated
As the name implies, Huawei has revived its youth-centric P Smart series for 2019. Like the Honor 10 Lite, which launched just ahead of it, it boasts a Kirin 710 processor with AI smarts, a dual 13/2-megapixel primary camera with depth-sensing powers, a large 3400mAh battery with fast charging and an impressively low price tag of just £199.
Its “ceramic-like” finish is undoubtedly eye-catching if a little cheap to the touch, the latest Android software comes equipped with an impressive set of additional features, courtesy of Huawei, and the cameras boast a surprising amount of functionality, not to mention they’re capable of taking usable shots in low light. No mean feat for an affordable phone.
- Read our Huawei P Smart 2019 review
8. Vodafone Smart V10
The best phone you’ll find for £100
- Great battery life
- Usable camera
- Clean Android install
The Vodafone Smart V10 is one of, if not the, best phone you’ll find for £105. It’s the latest own-brand phone from Vodafone and it brings with it a few nifty features you’d normally only see on significantly more expensive blowers. Highlights include a near bezel free design with a tear-drop notch ala Huawei P30, a dual sensor rear camera that’s actually usable and all day battery life.
Add to this wonderfully clean install of Android 9 that’s blissfully free of bloatware and advanced parental controls to manage the sprog’s screen time and the V10 easily earns a place as one of 2019’s best affordable smartphones.
Gamers be warned though in a bid to keep its price so low Vodafone has had to cut a couple of corners. Some of these are fairly small – NFC, IP-certification etc. Others are a little more noticeable, like the 5.9-inch screen’s HD+ resolution and its slightly underpowered Snapdragon 429 CPU, which is a little to slow for intensive games like PUBG.
- Read our Vodafone Smart V10 review
9. Xiaomi Mi A2
Good performer but hard to find
- Pure Android
- Dual cameras
- Strong performance for the price
- Good performance
- Missing NFC
- Limited availability
The Xiaomi Mi A2 is one of Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi’s latest budget handset, featuring a 5.99-inch IPS screen, a Snapdragon 660 CPU and 4GB of RAM, in addition to a 12-megapixel/20-megapixel dual-camera setup and 64GB of expandable (once again, via microSD) internal storage.
The software is great too, as it’s got a very clean version of Android with very few added extras in the form of Android One.
- Read our Xiaomi Mi A2 review
10. Pocophone F1
- Excellent value for money
- Superb performance
- Fantastic battery life
- Decent cameras
- MIUI for Poco will take some getting used to
- Thick bezels
- Plastic build
- No NFC
The first phone from Xiaomi-affiliated startup Pocophone comes out the gate strutting. The company’s debut device, the Pocophone F1, has pulled the same trick as the original OnePlus One and 2018’s Honor Play.
An impressively crisp 6.12-inch Full HD+ screen, the same primary 12-megapixel camera as Xiaomi’s 2018 flagship, a huge 4000mAh battery, good for up to two days of use per charge and Qualcomm’s beefy Snapdragon 845 processor, backed up either 6GB or 8GB of RAM; this thing is feature-packed and capable enough to tango with some of the most powerful handsets from the last year, if raw performance is your metric of choice.
The best bit? While it’s usually already competitively priced at around £330, it’s often available at a discount – turning a great deal into a superb one.
- Read our Pocophone F1 review
Still not sure? Check out our following guides.