What is the best £300 smartphone you can buy in 2016? We compare the OnePlus 3, Vodafone’s Smart Platinum 7, the Motorola Moto G4 Plus, Samsung’s Galaxy A5 (2016) and the iPhone SE to see which is best for you, in terms of specs and the most important features such as battery life, performance and camera tech.
While we love the pants off the Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC 10, Sony Xperia X and other big flagship phones released this year, we’ve also seen some incredibly strong mid-range mobiles released in 2016. The OnePlus 3, Moto G4 Plus, Galaxy A5, iPhone SE and Smart Platinum 7 are all excellent phones that can be snagged for around £300, roughly half the cost of most new flagships, while still boasting premium specs and features.
So, which of these £300 phones is best for you? Here’s our full comparison review.
OnePlus 3 vs Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) vs iPhone SE: At a glance
|Phone||iPhone SE||OnePlus 3||Moto G4 Plus||Galaxy A5 2016||Smart Platinum 7|
|Processor||Apple A9||Snapdragon 820||Snapdragon 617||Snapdragon 615||Snapdragon 820|
|Storage||From 16GB||64GB||From 16GB||16GB||32GB|
|UK price||From £359||£309||From £200||£269||£300|
OnePlus 3 vs Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) vs iPhone SE: Design
If you want slick, sexy design, you definitely don’t have to spunk out five hundred quid on a smartphone any more. All five phones here are good looking in their own way, depending on your personal tastes of course.
If you want a mobile that’s bright and breezy, check out the Moto G4 Plus. You can customise the Moto’s design online, using Motorola’s Moto Maker service, which gives you a range of eye-catching colours (as well as blander palettes) to choose from.
More into your metal mobiles? Take your pick from the iPhone SE, OnePlus 3 and Samsung’s Galaxy A5 2016. All three of these handsets sport rugged, shiny metallic frames, which look super-sleek and feel pleasingly tough.
And if you’re after something that’s seriously compact and easy to use with one hand, the iPhone SE is most likely to win your heart. This dinky 4-inch phone is a call-back to the tiny handsets of yesteryear, while the other phones in this round-up are hulking beasts over 5-inches in size. The Moto G4 Plus especially is a monster, thanks to its wide build.
OnePlus 3 vs Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) vs iPhone SE: Screen and media
In terms of sheer specs, the Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 boasts the sharpest screen here, in the form of its 5.5-inch Quad HD panel. However, all five phones produce pleasingly crisp images, making the most of your high-def movies and photos.
That said, if you do want to enjoy lots of video on the go, we’d say probably avoid the iPhone SE. That tiny display isn’t the best way to get stuck into your favourite shows.
The Galaxy A5 2016 pumps out super-vibrant images, while the other phones here veer towards more realistic hues. Thankfully you can also dial down the Galaxy’s Super AMOLED screen in the phone’s settings, if you don’t want to be dazzled with brilliant blues, greens and reds.
If you prefer to carry around a large media collection rather than streaming your music and video, then beware the iPhone SE and the OnePlus 3. Neither of these phones support microSD, unlike the other mobiles here, so you’re stuck with the built-in storage. Thankfully the OnePlus 3 comes with 64GB of space as standard, but you’ll need to fork out extra cash for an iPhone SE with more storage.
OnePlus 3 vs Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) vs iPhone SE: Features
The iPhone SE is the stand-out phone in this group, not just because it’s super tiny but also because it’s the only Apple device, which means that it runs iOS instead of Android. If your previous mobiles were also iPhones then you’ll probably want to stick with Apple, as you’ve likely invested in the App Store, iTunes and other Apple services. If you switch to Android, you won’t be able to use your old apps and so on.
All five phones here offer similar features, including a built-in voice assistant (Siri for the iPhone, Google Now for the Androids), contactless payments and so on. Security-conscious users will be glad to hear that all five phones in this mobile round-up also come packing a fingerprint sensor, so you can quickly and safely unlock your handset while keeping out those miscreants.
OnePlus 3 vs Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) vs iPhone SE: Performance
If you’re after a mobile powerhouse, you can’t go wrong with the OnePlus 3 or iPhone SE. The OnePlus 3 actually performs better in benchmarking tests than most premium phones, offering super-smooth running no matter what you’re doing. Likewise, the iPhone SE is also a super-powered handset thanks to Apple’s own A9 processor (found in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus).
The Smart Platinum 7, Moto G4 Plus and Galaxy A5 2016 all sport more mid-range chipsets, but they’re still smooth performers that can play the latest games without a stutter. However, they may show signs of ageing before the iPhone SE and OnePlus 3.
OnePlus 3 vs Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) vs iPhone SE: Battery life
If you’re constantly on your phone all day long (perhaps you play Pokemon GO?) then any of the Android phones here will impress with their excellent battery life. Even with heavy use you can usually make it through a full day on a single charge, while most users will make it through a day and a half.
The iPhone SE can just about make it through 24 hours if you don’t hammer it too hard.
We were incredibly impressed by the OnePlus 3’s Dash Charge tech, which charges the phone almost to full in just an hour. The other Android phones here take significantly longer, although the iPhone SE, with its tiny 1624mAh battery, fills up quite fast.
OnePlus 3 vs Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) vs iPhone SE: Cameras
At the £300 price point, you can definitely expect dependable camera tech that can shoot good-looking Full HD video footage, as well as a solid selfie snapper.
Our personal favourite here is the iPhone SE’s 12-megapixel rear camera, which captures sharp, good-looking photos with minimal effort. It’s an excellent point-and-shoot snapper. Check out our full iPhone SE camera review for samples and more.
However, the Samsung Galaxy A5 camera and Moto G4 Plus camera results are also strong for the price, with the G4 Plus especially impressing with its laser-guided auto-focus. And while the OnePlus 3 camera and Vodafone’s Smart Platinum snapper generally capture detail-packed photos too, their video output is rather disappointing compared with the other handsets here.
OnePlus 3 vs Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016) vs iPhone SE: UK price and verdict
All five phones here have their own individual strengths and weaknesses, but considering the Moto G4 Plus’ low asking price, it’s one of our favourite mid-range mobiles of 2016 so far. Solid cameras, impressive battery life and all of the features you’d expect make it a satisfying choice.
Of course, the G4 Plus is also a beast at 5.5-inches, and anyone who wants a more compact and easy-to-use handset will likely be happier with the iPhone SE. It’s the most expensive phone here and lacks expandable storage, but there’s very little else to dislike.
If you want something in the middle, our fave is the Galaxy A5 2016. It’s a solid all-rounder with pretty much no drawbacks, at a very reasonable price.
You can grab the iPhone SE from O2 right now from just £27 a month with no up-front cost.
You can also grab the Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 from O2 from just £27 a month with no up-front cost.