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Best cheap phones: 13 impressive handsets that won’t break the bank

Discover the Trusted Reviews pick of the top affordable handsets, and find out why there’s no need to spend more than you need, to get a good mobile phone

Flagship smartphones are more expensive than ever and that can be daunting. Thankfully, great phones with some flagship features are also cheaper than ever. We’ve got a wide selection to choose from and, after thorough testing, we’ve brought together the very best cheap phones you can buy.

When it comes to flagship phones being pricier than ever, we weren’t kidding – with devices like the iPhone 11 Pro Max and Galaxy Z Fold 2 costing £1,149 and £1,900 respectively. However, there’s been a steady trickle-down effect when it comes to some exciting flagship features that mean you can snap them up for a fraction of the price.

The best cheap phones available right now do truly make you question if you should ever spend more than £400-£500 ever again, threatening the mid-range as well as the flagships. Even devices like the newly announced Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 have plenty to contend with, with their Snapdragon 765G processor also being available on some more budget-friendly picks.

Our best list keeps in mind that just because you want a cheap phone it doesn’t mean you don’t have deeply desired features and, with our picks you can definitely get them

Related: Best iPhone Deals

How do we select the best budget smartphones?

We selected this list based on the price and the performance of the phones rated in our full reviews (we link to each full review below so you can find out more).

  • When we test a phone, we transfer all of our data across, then use each of the smartphones for a week as our main handset.
  • We also benchmark each phone using industry-standard software, which enables us to test the accuracy of the maker’s performance claims, and we use specialised hardware to check the performance and colour reproduction of the screen. This also enables us to make fair comparisons between brands.
  • Dedicating so much time to each model in this way means we can get an accurate picture of how the phones perform in the real world. We’re able to get a solid 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 more about how we test phones here or click on each review link below for the full performance details of each one.

It’s not uncommon these days for the best cheap phones to include everything from wireless charging all the way up to advanced dual-sensor camera set-ups. These undeniably awesome developments do, however, make it a little trickier to work out which cheap phone will best meet your specific needs. We’ve also answered some of your most common cheap phone buying questions at the end of the article, so scroll down to see the full picture.

Related: Best Android phones • Best mid-range phone

1. Realme X50 5G

The best cheap 5G phone

Pros:

  • Very good battery life
  • Low price for a 5G phone
  • Well-specced 120Hz screen
  • Strong general and gaming performance
  • Surprisingly capable main camera, even at night
  • Glass back

Cons: 

  • Two of the rear cameras are filler
  • No headphone jack

Realme has been building up momentum in the cheap phone space for some time now and it all feels like it’s been leading up to this. In a part of the year where bigger hitters like the OnePlus Nord and Pixel 4a have just dropped to plenty of acclaim, it’s the Realme X50 5G that truly deserves your attention when picking between the best cheap phones.

Realme X50 5G brings together a truly stunning feature set for under £300. You’ll get 5G connectivity, an impressive 120Hz panel, really good battery life and decent Snapdragon 765G performance.

These features don’t come in a budget hardware package to save money either. Realme has managed to keep the price down and include a curved glass back (a feature lacking on most cheap phone rivals) as well as a surprisingly premium all-around design. The Realme X50 5G is one of the biggest phone bargains of recent years.

Pixel 4a

The best cheap camera phone you can buy

Pros:

  • Great camera
  • Refreshingly small size for an Android phone
  • The promise of fast updates
  • Nice, sharp OLED screen
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • You’ll find competition with far larger spec sheets and feature lists
  • Some mild performance and touch latency hiccups
  • As well as being a Pro, the small screen might put some off

The Pixel 4a was a long time coming and, thankfully, it has lived up to the acclaim of its Pixel 3a predecessor and earned its spot on our best cheap phones roundup providing a remarkable camera experience at a low low price.

While it’s that attractive combo of affordable price and top-notch Google camera chops that will woo many, there’s plenty more to like from the Pixel 4a. In a world of mammoth phones, the new mid-range Pixel offers an easy-to-use pocketable experience for those longing for a return to the days of smaller handsets.

Google may have saved some money in the performance area, with the usage of the Snapdragon 730 processor, but the Pixel 4a screen is an area that hasn’t been skimped on. It may not be 90Hz but the OLED panel is sharp and the inclusion of HDR is another nice bonus.

Think Pixel and you think of the snappy stock Android experience, that’s just what you get here. It may not be as ultrafast as some flagships that cost twice as much but it’s more than capable for the price and you can rest easy knowing updates will come thick and fast.

The Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 have now been announced, offering plenty to consider when choosing between the cheapest phones of the Pixel lineup, the 4a, and the new devices. Be sure to look out for our full reviews and see if they make it onto our best lists.

Moto G8

A capable and affordable phone

Pros:

  • Good camera
  • Big battery
  • Great Motorola software

Cons:

  • The screen is far from the best

It might have got back into the flagship space, but Motorola’s finest phones remain its budget options – at least in our eyes. The Motorola Moto G8 ticks many of the boxes we look for when it comes to picking an easy to recommend entry for best cheap phones.

It has a good main 16-megapixel camera, paired with an 8-megapixel ultrawide and we were impressed with both its performance and battery life. In terms of specifics, you’re looking at a Snapdragon 665 with 4GB RAM and a 4000mAh battery

Our only real qualm is the screen, which lacks the high-resolution of some of the other Moto G8 entries.

iphone SE 2 back

iPhone SE 2

iPhone 11 performance for a lot less

Pros:

  • Fantastic performance
  • Great camera
  • iOS update
  • Good value for an iPhone

Cons:

  • Dated design

Apple’s latest phone isn’t flashy, yet it manages to offer a lot of flagship features for a price that makes it hard to ignore, earning its place as one of our best cheap phones.

Instead of mirroring the old iPhone SE, the iPhone SE 2 looks identical to the no-longer sold iPhone 8. Curved sides, glass back, chunky bezel and a circular Touch ID sensor give it a familiar feel, even if to some it might feel a little dull.

Below the surface though, this is a great phone. The 12-megapixel camera performs admirably in daylight and captures excellent 4K60fps video, though we do wish low-light performance was a bit better.

You’ll find the same A13 Bionic chip as the iPhone 11 Pro, a sharp 4.7-inch display with fantastic colour reproduction and handy extras like Qi wireless charging and an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance.

Moto G Pro

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Decent design
  • Futureproof software
  • Main camera is good for the money

Cons:

  • Poor palm detection
  • Back up cameras are pretty pointless

Selling for around £300, the Motorola Moto G Pro isn’t the most wallet-friendly phone on our best cheap phones list. But it’s also the only one with an included stylus.

The stylus works like the S Pens seen on Samsung’s Galaxy Note line of phones and sits neatly in a dock on the Moto G Pro’s bottom right side. This sounds small, but thanks to clever work by Motorola it makes the G Pro a great productivity aid and work phone for jotting handwritten notes on.

If that wasn’t enough to tempt you it’s also part of Google’s Android one initiative. This means it’s one of the only affordable phone’s around with a completely clean Android install and guarantee to be updated to the next version of the OS.

These two features plus it’s, for the money, excellent specs sheet and main camera easily earn it a place as one of the best phones you’ll find at this price.

Xiaomi Mi 9 front angled top left

Xiaomi Mi 9

A true flagship model at half the price

Pros:

  • Fantastic performance
  • Excellent screen
  • Versatile camera
  • Stunning value

Cons:

  • No IP rating

This best cheap phones list is usually made up of phones under £350. We feel that’s a fair price and a value proposition we’re happy to call ‘budget’. The Xiaomi Mi 9 is the exception, however, and we simply had to include it here as it’s such good value for money even though it does push our price envelope a bit.

Priced at a heftier £499, the phone is equivalent to a model that costs double this. It includes the latest Snapdragon 855 chipset, a 6.4-inch OLED display, three cameras – including a 48-megapixel main sensor – and fast wireless charging. You won’t find those kinds of specs offered in any other phone at this price.

Granted, there’s no water resistance and it’s packing in a flat screen, but the next-best devices cost at least £150 more. That’s why it’s here.

Oppo A5 2020

Big screen and huge battery

Pros:

  • Big screen
  • Big battery
  • Sensible price
  • Smart looks

Cons:

  • 720p screen
  • Plastic back

At £179, the Oppo A5 2020 is a great buy if you’re after a budget phone that can comfortably go the distance. This is one of the phones with the best battery life we’ve tested and it also ticks the box for those looking for a bit screen – even if the resolution is fairly low.

There is good performance from the Snapdragon 665 chipset, 64 GB of storage and 3GB RAM. Certainly nothing to sniff at when you take the price into consideration and a big part of why this phone earns its place on this best cheap phones list. Four cameras sit on the back, with another around the front. These include two 2MP sensors, a main 12MP and an 8MP. We were impressed by the photo quality here, even if those dual 2MP sensors are disappointing.

Moto G7 Power front angled on table

Moto G8 Power

Battery life for days

Pros:

  • Massive battery
  • Reasonable price
  • Good camera

Cons:

  • Unremarkable design
  • Long charging time

The battery is the headline-grabbing spec from the Motorola G8 Power, and in our testing, it lived up to the hype. Its impressive endurance will last you easily through the day and into the next one. Fortunately, this phone has more to offer than the battery alone.

The camera is pretty good and versatile for the price, including a total of four different snappers to suit a variety of shots, and the screen also does everything you need. It’s crisp and clear, and at 6.4-inch, it’s a good size for watching content or playing games.

Drawbacks include its conservative, uninspired design, which isn’t anything to write home about – however that’s unlikely to be a dealbreaker for many consumers checking out a best cheap phones list. Secondly, it doesn’t offer the speedy charging times that other phones do; you’ll probably have to leave this plugged in overnight for full recharging, but fortunately, its big battery means that this isn’t a compromising factor either.

Honor 10 Lite 3/4 perspective view

Honor 10 Lite

A lot of phone for under £200

Pros:

  • Feature rich
  • Decent battery life
  • Attractive design for the price
  • Case is included

Cons:

  • Plastic build
  • Heavy-skinned software missing key features
  • Prone to fingerprints

If you’re looking for a capable phone that’s outside of the Motorola range, our first port of call would be Honor’s handsets. The Honor 10 2018 flagship is a superb phone in its own right and you can pick one up for under £400, although the Honor 10 Lite, available at half the price, comfortable earns its place as one of the best cheap phones.

The 10 Lite boasts the latest version of Android Pie, topped with Honor’s own Emotion UI 9 overlay. It also offers a feature-packed user experience, 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.

In terms of the rear cameras, the dual 13/2-megapixel pairing takes usable shots in most conditions, with built-in AI scene recognition for automated settings adjustment. There’s also a dedicated portrait mode, an impressive night mode and a rich suite of beauty tools for selfie-lovers who make use of the impressively crisp 24-megapixel front-facing camera.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 front upright

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7

A big camera at a small price

Pros:

  • Long-lasting battery
  • Impressive performance
  • Great screen

Cons:

  • No NFC
  • Mono speaker
  • Busy interface

This relatively new Chinese brand is not one of the better-known models but it’s a worthy pick on our best cheap phones roundup. And that’s because if you’re looking for a killer camera but you’re on a particularly tight budget, the Redmi Note 7 offers astounding value for money. Xiaomi’s own MIUI 10 software does weigh the phone down slightly, but, other than that, this phone is impressively well-rounded.

The blockbusting 48-megapixel primary camera (which is supported by a 5-megapixel depth module) is a real highlight. The sensor is the same 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 set-up all the same.

The Redmi’s extended Full HD+ IPS screen is equally impressive, offering great colour reproduction, good viewing angles and decent legibility outdoors – not always a certainty with more budget-friendly phones. Check out more below.

Motorola Moto E6 Plus

The best phone you’ll find for £100

Pros:

  • Excellent value
  • Good quality, sharp-enough screen
  • Impressive selfie camera
  • Includes a case

Cons:

  • Slow to charge
  • Apps and games a little slow to load
  • No NFC

For under £100 you’re going to struggle to find a better phone than the Moto E6 Plus, even on our best cheap phones list. It offers excellent value and is an ideal choice if you’re not fussed about fancy features, want a phone for your child or just something to use as back up.

It packs a 6.1-inch HD+ display which is surprisingly ok, a basic 13-megapixel rear camera with a secondary 2-megapixel sensor for depth tracking and a design that doesn’t look like it costs £99.

Xiaomi Mi A2

Xiaomi Mi A2

Good performer but hard to find

Pros: 

  • Strong performance, especially for the price
  • Dual cameras
  • Pure Android

Cons:

  • Limited availability
  • Missing NFC

One of Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi’s latest budget handsets, the Xiaomi Mi A2 features a 5.99-inch IPS screen, Snapdragon 660 CPU and 4GB of RAM, in addition to a 12-megapixel/20-megapixel dual-camera set-up 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. An impressive, if elusive, inclusion in our best cheap phones list.

OnePlus Nord

Best screen

Pros: 

  • Great quality OLED panel
  • Very quick charging
  • Lovely version of Android
  • Nice, ergonomic design
  • 5G and great performance

Cons:

  • Screen seems to mark very easily
  • Secondary cameras are pretty much useless

OnePlus’ mid-range Nord is an excellent all-rounder with a low price tag. While the Nord lacks any  one standout feature, the combination of a high quality OLED display, quick charging and next-gen 5G performance makes this phone a clear contender when it comes to getting value for your money.

The build is less luxurious than that of the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus camera isn’t our top choice, but if you’re looking for flagship-like performance on a budget, the OnePlus Nord is definitely worth a closer look.

How do I choose the right budget mobile?

1. Can I trust brands that I don’t recognise?

There has been an recent influx of new manufacturers entering the UK phone market, including Chinese giants Xiaomi and Oppo. That’s because most phones, whichever the brand, are actually manufactured in China, so there’s a huge amount of technical expertise there, as well as a huge local market.

Given that, even if you aren’t familiar with all the featured brands, you don’t need to worry, because each handset in this round-up has been put through our full review process, so if it’s in this list, we’ve judged it to be a worthwhile purchase, based on the expertise of our experienced mobile team.

2. What’s the problem with Huawei and Honor phones?

Due to the recent retraction of Huawei’s Google Play Services license, due to the US/China trade dispute, new Huawei and Honor phones (those announced from this autumn) won’t be able to access Google Play Services and, as a result, key Google Android apps, including YouTube and Gmail, won’t work.

Huawei is attempting to redress this by using its own operating systems and software, but it will be an issue for most phone buyers given the ubiquitousness of Google’s apps. However any Huawei and Honor phones mentioned on this list, because they pre-date the dispute, will retain access to updates for the time being.

3. Is it better to buy phones from carriers/networks or elsewhere?

The answer to this completely depends on what you’re looking for. Typically, there is the opportunity to pair your phone with a competitive contract when buying from carriers. It’s always safest to buy direct from the company or a certified retailer if you’re looking to buy a handset SIM-free.

4. Do any of these phones support 5G?

The quick answer is no. With 5G in its infancy, the technology so far remains reserved for specialised top-tier models, such as the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. At the time of writing, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G is the most affordable phone right now to boast 5G. That phone is a Vodafone UK exclusive and is 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 anytime soon.

Still not sure what to buy?

Anyone who’s still unsure should check out the following Trusted Reviews guides:

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links. Tell us what you think – email the Editor