If you’re in the market for a budget smartphone then you’re in luck, as we’ve got the best low-cost handsets lined up for you right here.
Update: There are new entries in our best budget smartphone list, with new Motorola and Honor handsets slipping into the top 10.
In the past, the term ‘best cheap phones’ was usually a warning rather than a tempting proposition, with shoddy build quality, sluggish performance, laughable screen resolution and woeful cameras typically featuring on such handsets.
But this isn’t the past, this is the present, and the market abounds with top budget phones.
While the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S9, iPhone X, Huawei P20 and OnePlus 6 steal headlines around the world, there’s a lot of intriguing (and cheap) stuff going on in the world of budget smartphones. Here’s a selection of our favourite budget smartphones that cost less than £200 SIM-free.
- Not worried about the cost? Check out our best phone list
1. Moto G5
The best budget smartphone you can buy
Weight: 145g | Dimensions: 144.3 x 73 x 9.5mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: Snapdragon 430 | RAM: 2/3GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB | Battery: 2800mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP
Part-metal body at a low price
Crisp, vibrant HD display
Not the snappiest chipset
Motorola’s Moto G5 is still the best budget smartphone in the world, although with the recent launch of the Moto G6 its position is under threat.
However, until we’ve fully reviewed that new device the Moto G5 is still available, and it’s offering a metal design, 1080p display and fingerprint scanner.
You won’t get the fastest chipset or NFC with the Moto G5, but as an all-round product the cheap Motorola phone will serve you well.
Read the full review: Moto G5
2. Moto E5 Plus
A big screen, long lasting battery and low price
Weight: 196.6g | Dimensions: 160.9 x 75.3 x 9.4mm | OS: Android 8.0 | Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1440 | CPU: Snapdragon 425 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 5000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP
A big, big battery
Some slow loading times
Feels cheaper than it looks
The Moto E5 Plus offers up a big screen, long lasting battery and a low price tag, making it an excellent contender for the best budget smartphone on the market.
It just misses out on our best cheap phone number one spot thanks to its slightly weaker performance and lower resolution screen versus the G5 – but this is still a top budget buy.
Read the full review: Moto E5 Plus
3. Moto E4 Plus
The best cheap phone to buy if you want great battery
Weight: 198g | Dimensions: 155 x 77.5 x 9.6mm | OS: Android 7.1.1 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: MediaTek MT6737 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB | Battery: 5000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP
The excellent Moto E4 Plus is a cheap phone that features phenomenal battery life, a fingerprint scanner and a premium feel design.
It is a little limited with its power, but it makes up for it by being able to last for a whole two days from a single charge. If price and battery are the most important features for you, the Moto E4 Plus will suit you perfectly.
Read the full review: Moto E4 Plus
4. Nokia 6 (2017)
Premium affordability from an iconic name
Weight: 169g | Dimensions: 154 x 75.8 x 7.9mm | OS: Android 7.1.1 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: Snapdragon 430 | RAM: 3/4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 8MP
Fingerprint scanner for extra security
Disappointingly slow to charge
Battery life is limited
It comes with a Full HD 5.5-inch display, full metal design and a fingerprint scanner for added security. The battery isn’t incredible, but it’s not awful either making this one of our favorite affordable phones on the market right now.
It has been replaced by the Nokia 6.1, but that phone’s price tag is higher than our best budget smartphone cut off.
Read the full review: Nokia 6 (2017)
5. Honor 9 Lite
Flagship features at a bargain basement price
Weight: 149g | Dimensions: 151 x 71.9 x 7.6mm | OS: Android 8.0 | Screen size: 5.65-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2160 | CPU: Kirin 659 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP | Front camera: 13MP + 2MP
18:9 full HD display
Glass is a fingerprint magnet
Poor low-light camera
The Honor 9 Lite is a bit of a steal. Not only do you get dual rear facing cameras, you also get dual front-facing cameras, along with a design that’s taken from the flagship Honor 9.
There’s also a fingerprint scanner, decently sized full HD display and the latest version of Android. Its cameras may not be the best in low light, but there’s a lot of bang for your buck here.
Read the full review: Honor 9 Lite
6. Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus
Solid specs, strong camera and superb price
Weight: 158g | Dimensions: 143.7 x 71.9 x 8.6mm | OS: Android 6 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 1280 x 720 | CPU: Snapdragon 430 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 2700mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 8MP
Great design for a low price
Screen is ‘only’ 720p
No HDR for camera
For a price tag that’s comfortably under the £200 mark, Wileyfox has done wonders with the Swift 2 Plus. It looks and feels like a much more expensive phone, with an attractive aluminium build and smooth performance.
Its camera is capable of taking decent shots, its fingerprint sensor works well, and the UI is a genuinely thoughtful enhancement to the stock Android operating system.
Read the full review: Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus
7. Moto G6 Play
A long-lasting battery and decent screen on a tight budget
Weight: 175g | Dimensions: 154.4 x 72.2 x 9mm | OS: Android 8.0 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1440 | CPU: Snapdragon 430 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP
Good battery life
Surprisingly good screen
Camera a touch slow
Mediocre night photos
The Moto G6 Play is the most basic model in the G6 range but still has plenty going for it, including a long-lasting battery and a decent screen. If you’re on a tight budget it’s easy to recommend.
If you’re able to stretch your budget to the Moto G6 you’ll get a glass back, sharper screen and better, more versatile camera, but for the more cost conscious the G6 Play does a find job.
Read the full review: Moto G6 Play
8. Wileyfox Swift 2
Wileyfox does it again with this feature-rich budget blower
Weight: 155g | Dimensions: 143.7 x 71.9 x 8.6mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Snapdragon 430 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 2700mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP
Android 7 out of the box
Camera poor in low light
Only 720p screen
Another Wileyfox device has made it onto our best cheap phone list, and this one costs even less than the Swift 2 Plus above.
We love the Swift 2 for its combination of low price and good spec. There’s a 5-inch screen, 13MP rear shooter and Android 7 software right out of the box, plus a premium design.
Read the full review: Wileyfox Swift 2
9. Moto E4
Who knew the low-end could be so good?
Dimensions: 144.7 x 72.3 x 9.3mm | OS: Android 7.1.1 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: MediaTek MT6737 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 2,800mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP
Isn’t all metal in some markets
The Moto E4 isn’t our favourite cheap phone – it’s not even the best cheap phone from Motorola – but if you’re looking for a truly cheap phone, it’s worth a look.
We particularly liked the slick design, Android 7 software, fingerprint sensor and the value of the phone. The only issues are the 16GB of storage and less than average performance, but get over those things and the E4 could prove a great choice.
Read the full review: Moto E4
10. Honor 6A
A dependable budget phone that cuts a few corners
Weight: 143g | Dimensions: 143.7 x 71 x 8.2mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 | RAM: 2/3GB | Storage: 16/32GB | Battery: 3020mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP
Exemplary battery life
720 display feels like a step down
No fingerprint scanner
The Honor 6A comes with better battery life, more stable performance and an improved camera over the 5C it replaced, plus the price has stayed super low too.
The 6A features Android 7 Nougat software and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chipset that should give you a stable experience as well, so this may be suitable as your next cheap phone.
Read the full review: Honor 6A