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Best cheap phones: 12 stellar 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

The price of flagship phones feels like its ever-climbing and it’s left plenty of room for cheap phones to make a splashdown at the sub-£500 pricepoint. As tech that’s common in modern smartphones has gotten cheaper, it’s allowed more modest phones to bring strong specs to the table without too many sacrifices – making our best cheap phones list more competitive than ever.

In previous years, you’d have found yourself looking to the less well-known manufacturers for a cheap phone deal but now, as the market evolves, the likes of Samsung, Google, OnePlus and, even, Apple want in on the best cheap phone tussle.

While there’s a huge selection of cheap phones on the market now, their reliability and quirks is far more wide-ranging than the top-end of the market where phones are becoming more similar. From phones with gorgeous screens but awful battery life to lacklustre performance in a premium body.

Thankfully, Trusted Reviews is here to clear things up – providing a list to help you find the cheap phone that is right for you. All phones have been put through their paces by our expert team to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Scroll down to see our pick of the best performers.

  1. Best cheap 5G phone: Moto G 5G Plus
  2. Best cheap camera phone: Pixel 4a
  3. Best cheap phone: Moto G8
  4. Best for iOS: iPhone SE 2
  5. Best for £300: Moto G Pro
  6. Best for flagship quality: Xiaomi Mi 9
  7. Best for battery life: Oppo A5 2020
  8. Best for battery life (option 2): Moto G8 Power
  9. Best for under £200: Honor 10 Lite
  10. Best cheap phone (option 2): Xiaomi Redmi Note 7
  11. Best for £100: Motorola Moto E6 Plus
  12. Good for quality: Xiaomi Mi A2

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 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

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Moto G 5G Plus

Best cheap 5G phone

Pros:

  • Unbelievable value
  • Sharp display
  • Great performance (for the price)
  • 5G support
  • Fast charging and great battery life

Cons:

  • A bit cheap feeling
  • The secondary cameras are mostly useless
  • Some software bugs

Moto G phones have a track record for being the first handsets to bring new flagship features to the affordable end of the market. And that’s exactly what the Moto G 5G Plus has done. It’s the first truly brilliant affordable phone to feature 5G connectivity, and that is a HUGE deal.

5G is a new networking technology that’s rapidly being rolled out across the globe. It brings with it a number of huge advantages. The biggest is possible gigabit-per-second data speeds that’ll let you download 4K series in minutes and stream triple A games over services like GeForce Now.

But what makes the Moto G 5G Plus truly great, is that, unlike many competing affordable phones, it doesn’t have any obvious weaknesses.

The Snapdragon 765 CPU used is more than powerful enough for everyday tasks. Though we aren’t sold on its backup macro and ultrawide parts, the 48-megapixel main rear camera sensor is more than good enough for snapping photos in most situations. If that wasn’t enough to tempt you, it also offers rock solid battery life, earning it a clear place as one of 2020’s best affordable phones.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

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.

2. 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 in an easy to recommend cheap phone.

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.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

iphone SE 2 back

3. iPhone SE 2

iPhone 11 performance for a lot less

Pros:

  • Fantastic performance
  • Great camerra
  • 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.

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.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

4. 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 cheapest phone on this 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.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

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Xiaomi Mi 9 front angled top left

5. 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 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.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

6. 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. 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.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Moto G7 Power front angled on table

7. 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. 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.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Honor 10 Lite 3/4 perspective view

8. 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, is also worth considering.

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.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 front upright

9. 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 top of our list. 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.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

10. 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. 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.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Xiaomi Mi A2

11. 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.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

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

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