Don’t you think today’s cellphones are great? When compared to traditional, hefty phones, modern smartphones are like carrying about a miniature supercomputer. Overall, technology has been improving every year and, most importantly, has become more cheaper. The once-per-year upgrade that used to drain your bank account is no longer necessary. If you take a look around beyond the normal flagship cellphones, you can find some great inexpensive options.
While high-end flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, Galaxy Z Fold 4, and iPhone 14 Pro are fantastic, you no longer need to break the bank to enjoy a top-tier mobile device. Are you curious? But that’s where we come in, I guess. You won’t find better smartphones for the money than these.
1. Xiaomi Redmi Note 11
Xiaomi’s first few inexpensive devices to arrive in the UK hit a rich vein of form, and the company’s newest smartphone continues this trend. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 is surprisingly capable for such a low price, and recent improvements make it an even more enticing choice.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 is, without a doubt, our top pick among budget smartphones now available. In our testing, the Snapdragon 680 CPU inside Xiaomi’s newest low-cost smartphone achieved speeds that easily competed with those of phones costing twice as much. Its huge 6.43in FHD+ AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate is a joy, and its triple camera array, which includes a massive 50MP sensor, is likewise outstanding for the price.
High-end features like these are more typical of flagship smartphones, so finding them in a budget phone is a pleasant surprise. When it comes to low-priced smartphones, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 is the gold standard. There isn’t a better option at this pricing.
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.4GHzQualcomm Snapdragon 680; Display: 6.43in 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 128GB or 256GB; Camera: 50MP, 8MP (wide), 2MP (macro), 2MP (depth); Operating system: Android 11; Weight: 179g
2. Nokia C21 Plus
The Nokia C21 Plus is a great smartphone that belies its low price. The Nokia C21 Plus, despite its low price, is surprisingly capable thanks to a version of Android optimized for low-powered smartphones. It boasts a brilliant IPS display and a camera that isn’t half awful for the price, despite having relatively mediocre technology (2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage).
The battery life was sufficient in our tests, and the device’s robust build materials and compact design should ensure it lasts a long time. It may fall short in terms of raw processing speeds, and there are undoubtedly superior alternatives if your purchasing budget exceeds £100, but when it comes to price, the Nokia C21 Plus is without peer.
Key specs – Processor: Quad-core 1.6GHz Unisoc SC9863A; Display: 6.52in 1,600 x 720; Storage: 32GB; Camera: 13MP, 2MP (depth); Operating system: Android 11 Go; Weight: 178g
3. Apple iPhone 8 (renewed)
Even though it’s not Apple’s most recent iPhone, the iPhone 8 is still a solid choice. If you’re looking to upgrade to a smartphone but can’t quite afford the new iPhone SE (£419), the iPhone 8 will still serve you well if you don’t mind buying a refreshed edition.
In 2022, the iPhone 8 is still sturdy and its 4.7-inch Retina display remains gorgeous. Similarly, the A11 Bionic CPU is more than capable of handling a wide range of demanding tasks, despite being outclassed by the A15 Bionic chipset found in the newest iPhone 13. If you’re concerned that your iPhone 8 might be out of current in terms of software, rest assured: it’s compatible with iOS 15, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system.
The iPhone 8 is the best option if you want to save money on an Apple device and don’t mind that it’s a bit out of date.
Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core 2.39GHz Apple A11 Bionic; Display: 4.7in 1,334 x 750; Storage: 64GB, 256GB; Camera: 12MP; Operating system: iOS 14; Weight: 148g
4. Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G
Xiaomi’s latest incredible value is the Poco X4 Pro 5G. The Poco X4 Pro provides unrivaled value for money, especially if you reside in a 5G area, thanks to its specifications that are more suitable of handsets that cost double the price.
You can obtain a smartphone with a large 120HZ Full HD display, a lot of storage, and the surprisingly fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 CPU for a reasonable price. It also has a blazing fast 67W fast charging feature and a 108MP camera, both of which are extremely rare in phones of this price range. There isn’t much else you could want for the price, since this is one of the cheapest phones that can connect to the 5G network in the UK.
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 695; Display: 6.67in 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 128GB; Camera: 108MP, 8MP (wide), 2MP (macro); Operating system: Android 11; Weight: 205g
5. Apple iPhone SE 3 (2022)
However, Apple’s definition of “affordable” may differ from the general public’s, therefore the iPhone SE 3 (2022) may not be a true budget smartphone. The iPhone SE is your best bet if you want a new iPhone, as the iPhone 8 that was just refreshed is a couple years old.
The iPhone SE 3 may have the appearance of a phone from the past, but don’t let its small size fool you; it’s packed with powerful hardware, including Apple’s fastest mobile chipset to date, the A15 Bionic. In fact, it’s the same chip used in the iPhone 13, which retails for over twice as much. The iPhone SE has the best camera of any iPhone and is the least expensive model. The iPhone SE 3 (2022)’s short battery life is the only real downside, but if you can afford to spend twice as much as on the other phones here, it’s a great option to think about.
Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core 3.23GHz Apple A15 Bionic; Display: 4.7in 1,334 x 750; Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB; Camera: 12MP; Operating system: iOS 15; Weight: 144g
6. Realme 9 4G
While the Realme brand name may not yet have achieved widespread recognition in the United Kingdom, it is quickly becoming known for its high-quality yet reasonably priced smartphones. The Realme 9 4G, its most recent offering, maintains this trend with its high-end internals, beautiful design, and excellent cameras, all at an affordable price.
The Super AMOLED screen of the Realme 9 4G is a notable feature, offering better color accuracy than you’d normally see in a phone at this pricing point. Also, it’s a 90Hz display, which means you may enjoy smooth gameplay and faster browsing of social media. In addition to its speedy performance, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 impressed us, and its primary 108MP camera easily competed with those of devices costing twice as much.
The Realme 9 4G’s battery life, however, is the highlight. The Realme 9 4G lasted 28 hours and 17 minutes in our video rundown test, making it the third-longest lasting smartphone we’ve tested. The Realme 9 4G is an easy choice if you don’t need 5G and want a cheap phone that looks and performs like a flagship device.
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 4G; Display: 6.4in 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 128GB; Camera: 108MP, 8MP (wide), 2MP (macro); Operating system: Android 12; Weight: 178g
7. Motorola Moto G62 5G
Motorola’s low-priced phones continue to improve. The Motorola Moto G62 is the company’s best-value smartphone to date because it improves upon what made the Moto G50 such a steal.
Display and fingerprint sensor placement were two of our main complaints with the Moto G50, and both have been addressed here. The screen is still an IPS panel, but the resolution is now 2,400 by 1,080 and the refresh rate is a silky 120 hertz. The fingerprint reader has been relocated to a more convenient spot under the screen, and the rear-mounted triple camera setup has received some welcome refinements.
While a score of over 21 hours is certainly not to be sneezed at, it is still respectable and should easily carry you into a second day of use. Combining these features with the best performance available in a smartphone costing less than £200 makes the Moto G62 an incredible value.
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 Plus; Display: 6.5in 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 64GB; Camera: 50MP, 8MP (ultrawide), 2MP (macro); Operating system: Android 12; Weight: 184g
How to choose the best budget smartphone?
Choosing the best low-cost phone might be challenging because there are so many aspects to think about. Ensure that you have everything you need before proceeding to the checkout. We’ve highlighted the most important considerations to help you narrow down your options above.
Should I buy a phone on contract or SIM-free?
As one might imagine, budget smartphones cost significantly less than other types of phones, with some models available for as little as £100. Therefore, if you are in a position to do so, go ahead and purchase one without a SIM card. You can then shop around for a suitable SIM-only plan from any network and recoup some of your initial investment by selling your old phone. If you don’t have the money up front, you’ll have to go with a contract arrangement, but these typically aren’t the best bargain for cheap phones because you end up spending more overall.
What should I look for in a smartphone display?
Even though premium smartphones typically have the best, largest, and highest-resolution screens, there are some affordable options out there that nonetheless offer excellent visuals. Displays on inexpensive phones typically max out at 720p, but those on more costly models can reach Full HD (1,080p) quality for a noticeably improved viewing experience.
To get the best value for your money, we suggest an LCD panel, which is used in the majority of budget smartphones we suggest. On the other hand, AMOLED screens, which have even greater colors and a deeper black level, are starting to show up at more affordable price points as well.