Our best budget phones round-up reveals our favourite affordable mobile handsets, to be snapped up right now either SIM-free or on contract in the UK. From super-cheap £50 handsets up to £250 smartphones packing premium-style specs and features, the following devices offer a lot of value for little money in return.
Once upon a time, £100 would give you a choice of only the most basic of feature phones. Slabs of ugly plastic that were barely capable of sending a text message, let alone playing a video or running an app.
These days, you can thankfully bag yourself a great value, fully-functional phone for just a few crisp tenners. Bump up your budget to £150 or £200 and you can expect even more for your money: refined design, gorgeous visuals, impressive camera tech and slick performance.
Here in ascending order of cost is our pick of the best budget mobile phones in 2018.
Check out our round-up of the best budget camera phones, to see which affordable handsets boast the best optics.
Nokia 3310 (2017 re-release)
|Release Date:||June 2017|
|Our Review:||Nokia 3310 Review|
Nokia has blasted back onto the smartphone scene in 2017, with a series of new Android phones that offer great value for money; expect to see the Nokia 3, 5 and 6 in this best budget phones round-up very shortly.
However, it’s the remastered version of the classic 3310 feature phone that’s received the most press for Nokia this year. This rejiggered model boasts a 2-megapixel camera that’s actually not awful, plus internet browsing via 2G (not the nippiest these days). If all you want is something simple for calls and the occasional spot of Snake, we can’t fault this phone. Especially given the ridiculous battery life.
Vodafone Smart Prime 7
|Release Date:||June 2016|
|Our Review:||Vodafone Smart Prime 7 Review|
If you’re a Vodafone customer then check out its own-brand Smart Prime 7, a 5-inch mobile that offers tremendous value for money at just £75. For that low price you get a sharp, colourful screen, excellent battery life and a design that’s easy on the eye. Sadly the cameras are its weak point, but at this price point the Smart Prime 7 is a great filler or secondary mobile.
Note that Vodafone has just released an all-new Smart handset, the budget-friendly Smart N8, which is all-new for 2017. For just £85 you get a fingerprint sensor, HD screen and some solid specs – see below for more details.
Vodafone Smart N8
|Release Date:||June 2017|
|Our Review:||Vodafone Smart N8 Review|
Vodafone has just launched a fresh new handset for 2017, and it’s every bit as affordable as the Smart Prime 7. The Smart N8 is again under £100, although this time you get a fingerprint sensor and some handy parental controls for keeping tabs on little ones.
If you’re currently with (or thinking of switching to) the Vodafone network and need a seriously affordable handset, the Smart N8 is a great choice. Performance is good enough for everyday basic tasks, while the parental controls really do offer peace of mind.
At this price it’s difficult to fault the camera tech and that surprisingly colourful screen either. With the addition of that fingerprint sensor, you’ll struggle to find better value for money, as long as you don’t mind being tied to Voda.
Sony Xperia E5
|Release Date:||July 2016|
|Our Review:||Sony Xperia E5 Review|
We also really like the Sony Xperia E5, which at £99 is Sony’s cheapest Xperia phone to date. This 5-inch mobile boasts a 720p HD screen, all-day battery life and surprisingly decent performance, although the 13-megapixel camera (while great on paper) is a bit of a let-down.
Motorola Moto E4
|Release Date:||September 2017|
|Our Review:||Motorola Moto E4 Review|
The latest Moto E handset is the metal-plated Moto E4, which costs just over £100 and yet packs plenty of smarts. The Moto E4 rocks a spacious 5-inch HD screen and an 8-megapixel camera that’s pretty good for shooting everyday life. You can expand the storage to carry around a decent media collection, too.
Dependable battery life and performance that isn’t frustrating also combine, to make the Moto E4 a great choice for students, festival goers and people on a tight budget.
|Release Date:||June 2016|
|Our Review:||Honor 5C Review|
Huawei’s spin-off ‘Honor’ brand for budget mobile phones usually offers up some strong handsets, and the new Honor 5C is easy to recommend as one of the best £150 smartphones around.
First impressions are great thanks to the stylish brushed metal design, while slick performance, roughly two full days of battery life and the impressive camera experience (for the low price) make this a solid choice at the price point.
Samsung Galaxy J3
|Release Date:||June 2017|
|Our Review:||Samsung Galaxy J3 2017 preview|
The Samsung Galaxy J3 isn’t a particularly memorable mobile or an especially innovative phone, but it has plenty of merits. Boasting quite a sturdy and attractive design, this affordable handset also serves up a 720p HD display and respectable battery life. Not to mention a decent enough 13-megapixel camera.
Vodafone Smart V8
|Release Date:||July 2017|
|Our Review:||Vodafone Smart V8 Review|
With numerous affordable mid-range phones packing similarly-sized batteries and 5.5-inch Full HD displays, the Vodafone Smart V8 has a fair bit of competition to square up to, but for £160 you’re actually getting a good-looking, fast and fluid mid-ranger with a competent enough camera and some very smart software tweaks from the off.
What’s more, this phone leverages Vodafone’s super speedy 4G network, so you can stream and game online without worry. All in all, the V8 has what it takes to stand alongside some of the bigger players in its class, almost giving the likes of the Moto G5 Plus cause for concern. We just wish it wasn’t a carrier exclusive so more people could enjoy what Vodafone is offering with the Smart V8.
|Release Date:||April 2017|
|Our Review:||Moto G5 Review|
Motorola’s G-series phones have impressed us for years now, showing for certain that you don’t need to splash out hundreds of pounds for a fully-functioning and fully-featured smartphone.
The new Moto G5 stays true to that G family formula, with a greater focus on design (that all-metal frame is lovely indeed). You also get strong battery life, a dependable camera and at just £169, pleasing affordability. Certain elements, like storage, fall short of the mark for sure. Yet for the low asking price, the Moto G5 packs in plenty of character, functionality and should appeal to social media butterflies and plenty of other users.
Huawei P8 Lite 2017
|Release Date:||February 2017|
|Our Review:||Huawei P8 Lite 2017 Review|
Huawei sure does produce some fantastic premium smartphones, with the likes of the P9 and Mate 9 impressing thanks to their strong specs set and awesome hardware. However, you don’t need to splash out crazy money for a good Huawei phone; the Chinese giant’s budget offerings are usually really good too.
The 5.2-inch Huawei P8 Lite 2017 costs under £200, making it even cheaper than the also-excellent Honor 6X, yet still crams in some solid specs. You get a Full HD screen, the latest version of Android and loads of bonus Huawei features thanks to the lovely EMUI 5.0 UX. All of that makes for seriously impressive value for money.
Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus
|Release Date:||October 2016|
|Our Review:||Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus review|
The Swift 2 Plus is still a fantastic phone for under £200, building on the solid foundations of the original Swift handset. Now we get a much-improved camera experience, full fingerprint security and Quick Charge support too, so you aren’t hanging around waiting for the handset to power up. If you’re on a budget, this is definitely a worthy rival to the Moto G5.
Sony Xperia XA1
|Release Date:||May 2017|
|Our Review:||Sony Xperia XA1 Review|
If you’re after gorgeous good looks and one of the smartest budget cameras around, the Sony Xperia XA1 is your new mobile. This 5-inch handset is pleasingly compact and comfortable to use, thanks to the sexy edge-to-edge display. That HD screen pumps out sharp, colourful visuals, great for media fans. Plus you get full microSD expansion.
However, it’s the awesome 23-megapixel camera that really makes this an essential budget phone. You can capture sharp, detail-packed shots in a range of conditions, while the video results are solid also.
Moto G5 Plus
|Release Date:||March 2017|
|Our Review:||Moto G5 Plus Review|
We’ve already featured the more affordable Moto G5 in this best budget mobiles round-up, although we also have to big up the G5 Plus. This may be pushing the boundaries of affordability at a shade over £250 SIM-free, yet the value for money on offer is fantastic.
Anyone after a dependable mobile snapper will be happy with the easy-to-use camera, while the impressive battery life and smooth performance make for a solid all-round smartphone.
Note that you can also pick up the new special edition Moto G5s Plus, which boasts some upgrades over the standard model.