If you’re after a great, feature-packed phone but can’t afford the latest handsets, check out the best mobile tech from 2013 instead. Not only are these smartphones still superb, with built-in 4G, performance that holds up well and more often than not excellent battery life, but they’re also pretty cheap to buy…
Succeeded this year by the excellent HTC One M8, last year’s original HTC One is still an excellent all-round device that packs most of the M8’s best features. The One boasts a similarly gorgeous unibody design (mmm, shiny metal) with a super-sharp 4.7-inch Full HD screen and dual BoomSound speakers for enjoying your media. Battery life is awesome and the One is still a strong performer, even after countless updates.
You can grab an HTC One typically for between £200 and £300 here in the UK. See if you can pick it up in glorious gold for the ultimate bling effect.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
This year’s Galaxy Note 4 is an impressive piece of kit, but at over £600 it’s not exactly easy on the wallet. So why not check out last year’s Note 3 instead? The design isn’t quite as nice and it’s missing some of the cool Note 4 features like windowed multi-tasking, but the Note 4 is still a powerhouse with a sharp screen and excellent S Pen stylus support. Battery life is great too, lasting you well over a day.
Google Nexus 5
The Google Nexus 6 is about to hit the UK, but this 6-inch behemoth isn’t for everyone. Far more hand-friendly is last year’s Nexus 5, which was a bargain at £300 when it launched and should now set you back even less.
It’s another all-round piece of awesomeness, from its understated design to its bright and colourful HD screen. Factor in a decent camera and all-day battery life, and you can’t do much better at this price point.
Apple iPhone 5
The original iPhone 5 may lack the Touch ID fingerprint scanner that was introduced with the iPhone 5s, or the spacious screen of the new iPhone 6, but it’s still a great way to dive into Apple’s ecosystem and it won’t hurt your bank balance too much. We found it for £250 to £300 on websites like eBay, contract-free.
Best of all, the iPhone 5 can handle iOS 8 (for now at least), although it’ll probably start to struggle in a year’s time when iOS 9 lands.
Nokia Lumia 925
We still love the metallic Lumia 925, a departure from Nokia’s usual brightly-coloured smartphones. The Lumia 925 packed the kind of dependable 8.1-megapixel camera you’d expect from Nokia, plus a bright and sharp 4.5-inch screen to view back your photos. Shame there was no wireless charging, like.
You can grab a Lumia 925 for less than £200 these days from some UK retailers. Make sure you update the firmware as well as the OS when you update to Windows Phone 8.1, to iron out any performance and stability issues.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
If you’re after a portable media monster and don’t mind toting a ridiculously huge handset, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is now great value for cash. This 6.4-inch phablet is the Godzilla of mobile tech, but the sharp and vibrant screen is a great way to take in a movie on the move and the Z Ultra still packs a solid performance, plus Sony’s typically excellent camera tech.
You can snatch one up for around £250 to £300 these days.
One of our favourite phones from 2014 is the marvellous LG G3, a 5.5-inch blower with an insanely sharp screen and tons of features packed in. Well, did you know that last year’s LG G2 was almost as great, with a similarly pin-sharp display, the same funky rear-mounted power button and more features than you can shake a wombat at, not to mention ridiculously good two-day battery life. Our only qualm was the not-too-exciting plastic design and lack of expandable storage.
The G2 still performs well and doesn’t feel dated at all, mostly thanks to LG’s thoughtful interface design and that glorious display. You can grab it for less than £300 from the likes of Expansys.
The too-skint-for-any-of-these option: Motorola Moto G
You can pick up a refurbished Moto G (1st generation) for £80 and it’s still an absolute bargain, with one of the best screens of any budget phones. Of course, the new Moto G isn’t much more expensive at £150 and features a much-improved camera. Decisions, decisions….