A smartphone can be one of the most expensive products you buy, but it doesn’t have to be.
While foldables and high-end flagships are pricier than ever, you can pay far less and still get a great phone.
This article proves it. Each of the 10 smartphones below costs around £250/$250 or less, yet offers everything most people need for day-to-day use.
As you might expect, these are all Android phones. The cheapest current iPhone is the iPhone SE, but it still costs £449/$429 when paying full price.
However, there’s still plenty of variation, with Samsung, Motorola, Xiaomi, Nokia, Realme and Poco all represented below. You might find that the best option for you is towards the bottom of this list.
To help you choose, we’ve also included detailed buying advice on what to look out for in a budget phone at the bottom of the page. If your budget is a bit bigger, consider a mid-range or flagship phone instead.
Best budget phone 2023
1. Samsung Galaxy A14 – Best overall
Sleek S23-inspired design
Long battery life
The best budget phone you can buy is the Samsung Galaxy A14 thanks to a winning combination of good design excellent battery life, simple software, and at least four years of software support to 2027.
Day to day performance is much improved over 2022’s Galaxy A13 with a better chipset, and most tasks tick away nicely with 4GB RAM. As with most cheap phones you will not be able to fire up demanding mobile games like Call of Duty, but calls, texts, messaging and video apps, and social media will be absolutely fine.
There’s only 64GB storage which is a bit low, but there’s a microSD card slot to expand storage and you can’t really complain when a cheap phone is this good. You can also pay a little more and get a 5G version, which is otherwise identical.
If you don’t mind a 60Hz display when other budget phones have smoother 90- or 120Hz tech, and you’re not fussed about having an outstanding smartphone camera, then the Galaxy A14 is a top choice.
The Moto G84 is undoubtedly one of the best budget phones you can buy. The only reason it isn’t top is the lacklustre software support, with Motorola offering just one Android version update and three years of security support.
You’ll also have to put up with average cameras and a back that’s prone to getting dirty, but that’s about where the negatives end.
The 120Hz OLED display is the finest on any budget phone, while the Snapdragon 695 delivers solid performance and 5G support. Battery life from the 5000mAh cell is solid, and you even get relatively quick (for a budget phone 30W charging).
If you don’t like the look of the Galaxy A14, this is the cheap phone to get.
The G23 looks and feels more expensive than it is and delivers where it matters. The screen is bright, it’s main camera will do the job fine, it has loud clear dual stereo speakers, and it charges at 30W with the included charger.
It has a dual SIM slot and storage is expandable via microSD, though the built in 128GB storage is very generous for the price.
The ultrawide and macro cameras aren’t much cop, there’s no 5G support, and the processor is only fast enough to play quite basic mobile games – you won’t want to fire up Fortnite on this phone. But if you want an affordable smartphone that nails the basics and is running a nice plain version of Android 13, this is it.
It’s great to see the Nokia brand (the phones are actually made by Finnish company HMD) represent good value phones once more. The Nokia G60 is an excellent budget phone choice at £200 (it’s not officially on sale in the US but you can get it via Amazon).
With 5G, a large screen, great battery life and a perfectly capable main camera, the G60 ticks all our top boxes for a phone that doesn’t cost too much, considering. Three years of software support is also above average for this price segment. It’s good to see, and means you can use your phone knowing its Android security is up to date.
You can buy the phone outright or you can get it from £12.50 per month with Nokia’s Circular subscription plan, which lets you upgrade when you want, or lets you accumulate points the longer you hold onto the same phone to encourage less e-waste. You can then spend those points on eco-minded causes.
At this price it’s hard to fault the G60, though it does charge very slowly.
The Redmi Note 12 5G costs £279, it’s close enough to our upper limit to be included. While a clear step down from the Note 12 Pro and Pro+, it’s also significantly cheaper.
And there’s a lot to like here, from solid Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 performance to all-day battery life from the 5000mAh cell. But the 120Hz OLED display is the real highlight – you wouldn’t expect such a cheap phone to have such a great screen.
Cameras are a mixed bag, with an impressive selfie lens offset by disappointing rear lenses. The cheap build makes it obvious this is a budget phone, while Xiaomi’s MIUI software isn’t for everyone.
But if you’re willing to spend a little more than the usual budget limit, the Note 12 5G offers a lot for your money. However, it’s also worth noting that there’s a 4G version of the Redmi Note 12, which is even cheaper at £219.
The Galaxy A14 5G is a solid budget phone, but the existence of the 4G model (which sits top of this list) makes it a more complicated buy.
5G is not the only difference in this more expensive phone, though. The MediaTek Dimensity 700 chip offers slightly better performance than the Helio G80, and it’s nice to have a 90Hz display rather than regular 60Hz.
However, it’s strange to see the 4G model’s ultrawide camera ditched in favour of an ineffective depth sensor. The main rear and selfie cameras can take decent photos, but only in good lighting.
The A14 5G has a great design and battery life is very good, but charging is frustratingly slow. While still a solid budget phone, there’s no need for most people to spend the extra compared to the regular A14.
The Moto G62 was released back in 2022, but it remains an impressive budget option.
Despite being plastic, solid build quality surpasses other phones at this price. Meanwhile, a clean version of Android has been subtly changed, but only where Moto can improve things – not just for the sake of it.
There’s a superb always-on display, despite having an LCD rather than OLED panel, that lets you quickly view and open notifications that no other phone brand has
Triple cameras on the back of the Moto G62 exist, but it’s a push to call them all good – thankfully the 50Mp main sensor is very solid and will give you excellent daytime shots.
Alongside great battery life from the 5000mAh cell that we sometimes found reached the end of the day at 50% and you have a great cheap phone option.
If you like the idea of repairing your phone rather than replacing it every few years, the Nokia G22 could be the phone for you. If you can cope with the fact this is quite a slow phone – perhaps you only need one for basic functions like calls and messages and Google Maps – then it’s a good buy.
iFixit sells several official repair kits for the G22 including for screen cracks and new battery. It means you can grab a smartphone for £150 and be safe in the knowledge you can easily repair it yourself. It’s liberating, and Tech Advisor’s Hannah tried it out in our full review.
One thing to note is this phone will only have software support for two years, which somewhat contradicts the idea this is a product you should keep for far longer and replace its failing parts. That aside, this is an interesting concept and a budget phone you should consider if you don’t need a powerful device.
The folks at Realme pulled it out of the bag with the design of the C35, a sub-£150 phone that looks like it costs a lot more.
With flat sides taken straight from the latest iPhone playbook and a smart looking camera module akin to the more expensive OnePlus Nord phones, the C35 also packs in a great 1080p display for the incredibly cheap price.
You can even pay £20 extra to get 128GB storage instead of 64GB, and all models have a microSD slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The processor is nothing to write home about, but the 50Mp main camera lens is pretty good on a phone that outperforms its asking price.
Even though it was released in 2022, this is still worth considering.
Not to be confused with the Poco M4 Pro 5G, this device shrugs off 5G in exchange for some notable upgrades in other areas.
The Poco M4 is the first M series device in Poco history to pack in an AMOLED display, which also happens to support a 90Hz refresh rate and Full HD+ resolution. Meanwhile, the 64Mp main camera is an impressive improvement for the series, while battery and charging are also solid.
The design is a little divisive and the MIUI software won’t be to everyone’s tastes but in terms of value for money, it’s a great option.
You may also be interested in the Poco M4 Pro 5G – as the name suggests, it adds 5G support. But both were released back in 2021 and 2022, so are getting a little dated.
In our experience, the ideal way to get a cheap phone is to buy it SIM-free, then grab a great-value SIM-only deal. You won’t be paying loads every month for a phone for the next two years and you can swap it for a newer model whenever you fancy without a massive impact on your wallet.
Should you buy a locked phone?
You’ll quickly find that some of the best deals on cheap phones are sold via mobile operators (also known as carriers). What you need to watch out for is whether these phones are sold locked to that operator’s network.
In such situations, you won’t be able to put another operator’s SIM card into your carrier-locked handset and will likely have to call the device’s carrier to get the phone unlocked, which can cost money.
What’s the best phone for a child?
Most children want to make up their own mind about choosing a phone when it comes to entering young adulthood, but if they’re a little younger you’ll probably want to make the decision for them.
You’ll want to look at something ultra-affordable for a first smartphone (so you’ve come to the right place), it’ll need to have a decent-sized screen, long battery life and be fairly durable, so you should probably avoid phones with a glass back.
As it’ll likely be your main point of contact with your child, you’ll also want to look for good call quality, something that’s often overlooked on modern smartphones.
We’d recommend a more affordable phone here too, but many of the options in this chart may be within reach.
General buying decisions should be whether you prefer a near-stock version of Android (as is available on Google’s Pixel phones, and Nokia and Motorola phones), or don’t mind a heavier skin, as found on devices from Samsung, Xiaomi, or Oppo.
Also, considering what the most important aspect of a phone is to you is key, and how many compromises you’re willing to make in other areas. Many handsets at this price point will target one specific feature, meaning corners are inevitably cut elsewhere.
What will you get for your money?
If you’re looking for a cheap phone, you have to accept the fact that the manufacturer is going to cut some corners to achieve that low price and you aren’t going to get the same performance, features or display quality as that of a phone costing two, three, or four times the price.
It used to be the case that budget phones were instantly recognisable by their low-resolution displays, meagre storage and chunky, plastic bodies, but things are improving in this area all the time. These days, for around £250/$250 or less, it’s quite possible to buy a phone with a Full HD display, a slim body, and a camera that takes pictures you might actually want to share.
Most will support 4G (or even 5G) connectivity but features such as NFC, wireless charging and water resistance might be absent, unless specifically stated.
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