You Can Have An Awesome Budget Smartphone For Less Than You Think!
The big dogs of mobile would have you thinking that you need to fork out £500+ for a premium well-balanced smartphone… well that’s just plain false!
If our review of the Xiaomi Mi 9 last taught us anything, it’s that you can match the raw performance of a £900 Samsung flagship, for around the £400 price-point.
And the same holds true in 2021 with the Xiaomi Mi 10T costing two-thirds of Samsung’s budget S20 FE, which has been plagued with display issues.
But… what if we take it a step further and set out to prove that you can have a premium-build phone with good performance for under £150. Well that’s exactly what this best budget smartphone list is here to do.
… You can have your budget phone cake and eat it! …
With all bargain smartphones, there are Pros & Cons to consider with the main one being: will it work in the U.K?. But, since we’re a bunch of super helpful geeks, we’ve shortlisted only the best low-cost phones that have Full UK Network Coverage.
That’s right, not every budget smartphone will work in the U.K. But you can rest assured that every budget phone in this list will!
Our helpful tips & phone buying FAQs’ are at the end as well as all the comments.
Let’s get to it!
The Top 11 ‘Budget’ Phones – U.K Edition
OPPO A5 2020 – Best Value Premium Phone That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of…
Price From: £99.99 |
Update: OPPO have slashed the price of the A5 2020 to £99.99 for the holiday period making this phone unbeatable on value!
OPPO has taken Asia by storm by offering affordable smartphones that don’t cut corners. And finally, us Brits can now get our hands on them. And you’ll certainly want to as the quality of these phones is on par with Samsung. There’s even a few rumours that OnePlus was started by OPPO but runs independently.
Anyhoo, back to the A5 (2020 version). You’re getting yourself a huge 5000mAh battery combined with a gaming-ready Snapdragon 665 CPU making it a phone that’ll easily last you all day long. This is backed up by 3GB’s of RAM and a base 64GB’s of storage that you can expand via the dedicated MicroSD port. Both SIM ports can be used on 4G simultaneously.
The display (480nit) bright IPS panel that works well outdoors thanks to OPPO’s ‘Sunlight Screen’ software. And at 6.5″ in size with Dolbt Atmos stereo speakers inbuilt it’s great for videos and gaming. Don’t worry though as the A5 2020 still manages to weigh in under 200 grams for easy one-handed use.
Overall, the A5 is a beautiful device that offers plenty of performance & battery life. I only wish it was Full HD. If you’re not a pixel-snob like me, then this in the top 3 phones you can get in the UK for less than £150.
Tech Specs: 6.4″ HD+ Super AMOLED, 1560×720 resolution, 268 PPI, Samsung (1.6Ghz | 8-cores), 3GB RAM, 128GB Storage, 4000mAh Fast Charge Battery, Single-band N WiFi, Android 9 (One UI) with Full UK Support for 3, 7 & 20 (4G) bands.
Samsung Galaxy A21s – The Photographers Choice!
Price From: £149.99
Replacing last years A20s, the A21s has undertaken some huge internal upgrades making it one of the best-budget choices of 2021.
For starters, you’re now getting quad-camera setup with a huge 48MP main lens. This lets you easily zoom into pictures and crop without losing any pixels. And you get the same ultra-wide from last year for taking landscapes and group photos.
The other big upgrade is the battery. This year they’ve bumped it up to 5000mAh (4000 on the old A20s) and included a 15w fast charger in the box. So if you’re a light user like me, you can charge the A21s every other day.
So what’s the catch?
While colours and brightness are very good on this Samsung PLS IPS display, the resolution is mid-range at 720×1280. This does mean you’re giving up a little crispness compared to some of the other full HD models in this list.
Finally, let’s talk performance. Samsung has used one of it’s own mid-range Enxyos chips this year that offers almost double the gaming performance of A20s. During our testing, the phone felt snappy and responsive with no issues.
Close to the top of our £150 budget, the beautiful Samsung A21s is a great choice for those who value excellent battery-life & camera performance. An easy upgrade for anyone who wants a hassle-free Android upgrade.
Tech Specs: 6.5″ HD+ Super AMOLED, 1600×720 resolution, 270 PPI, Samsung (Exynos 850 2Ghz | 8-cores), 3GB RAM, 32GB Storage (expandable to 512GB), 5000mAh 15w Fast Charge Battery, Dual-band AC WiFi, Android 10 (One UI) with Full UK Support for 3, 7 & 20 (4G) bands.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Global – The Best Budget Phone!
Price From: £139.99
If you’re looking for the best feature-packed phone that costs less than £150, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 is your best choice.
Editors Note: The newer Redmi Note 9 is now released, but we still recommend the Note 8. Why? It has a better camera system, feels more premium with front & back Gorilla Glass 5 (the Note 9 is plastic) and still offers great performance thanks it’s Snapdragon CPU.
The 64GB version can be yours for as little as £139.99 during sales, and more impressively, it benefits from many of the same features we see in flagship phones.
In your hand, the dual-glass design feels fantastic and made from scratch-resistant toughened Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on both sides.
But let’s get back to those flagship features I mentioned earlier. The first is the rear camera module which now includes a whopping 48MP megapixel lens similar to what see on the Xiaomi Mi 9.
So if taking ultra-crisp photos is your thing, you’ll love this versatility that this lens offers. We’re also treated to 1080P video at 60fps, 4K @ 30fps and even a super-slow-mo mode which can capture 1080P video @ 120fps.
Related: What’s The Best Xiaomi Smartphone?
Performance-wise, the Redmi Note 8 excels thanks to the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 665. If you’re a gamer, you’ll be happy to know this phone scores 170,000 in the AnTuTu benchmark. If you’re not a gamer, you’ll still love the speedy performance this phone offers.
Connectivity is also spot on with support for the fastest Dual Band AC WiFi, 4x GPS support for superior tracking, an Infrared Remote, USB Type-C, an SD Card Slot, Bluetooth 5 and full UK Network support.
And best of all, this is all crammed into a super-slim 8.35mm body that only weighs 190g. Considering its dual-glass design and huge 4000mAh battery, this is super-impressive.
Compared to last years Redmi Note 7, you’re getting upgraded with a splash resistant nano-coating, improved blue-light eye protection and way better speaker quality thanks to a larger sound chamber.
And it’s for the reasons above that the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 is our Favourite Budget Phone Choice of 2020!
Colours Available: Space Black, Neptune Red and Neptune Blue
Tech Specs: 6.3″ FHD+, 1080×2340 resolution, 19.5:9 Aspect Ratio, 409 PPI, Snapdragon 665 (2.2Ghz | 8-cores), 4GB RAM, 64GB Storage, 18w Fast-Charge 4000mAh battery, Dual-band AC WiFi, Headphone Jack, Android 10 with Full UK Support for 3G + 4G bands.
Ulefone Note 9P
Price From: £119.99
The Ulefone 9P is one of the best value budget smartphones you can get your hands-on today in the UK. It’s no performance-powerhouse, but makes up for it by offering Type-C fast charging, a headphone jack, fast AC WiFi, Bluetooth 5, and excellent GPS all while costing close to the £100 mark.
It covers both fingerprint and face unlock while offering a hefty 4500mAh battery that will easily cover your whole days use, especially when combined with it’s low-powered Helio P22 chip.
It’s not a high-end gaming choice, but, if you need a reliable phone for web browsing, video, social media, casual photography and light-gaming… the Note 9P has you covered.
At only 9.2mm thick and 188 grams, this polycarbonate phone feels great in your hand and as a juicy bonus, Ulefone includes both a screen protector and case in the box.
Tech Specs: 6.52″ Display @ 720×1600 resolution, 269 PPI, MediaTek Helio P22 (1.8Ghz | 8-cores), 4GB RAM, 64GB Storage, 4500mAh Battery + 10w Fast Charging, Dual-band N WiFi, Android 10 with Full UK Support for 3G + 4G.
Doogee X95 – Best Phone Under £70
Price From: £69.99
The Doogee X95 is the perfect super-budget smartphone! It’s has a super bright HD display that can get up to a whopping 600nits in brightness. It’s running Android 10 (Go Edition) which is perfect for the 2GB RAM and quad-core CPU.
And finally, it’s packing a huge 4350mAh battery that’ll bag you 6-8 hours screen on time. There’s dual-band WiFi for better indoor coverage and it comes with full support for all UK networks.
What’s not to love about this super-budget Android phone? It’s best-in-class at this price range!
Tech Specs: 6.52″ IPS, 540×1200 resolution, 201 PPI, MediaTek 6737 (1.3Ghz | 4-cores), 2GB RAM, 16GB Storage, 4350mAh 10 Watt Fast Charge Battery, Dual-band N WiFi, Android 10 (Go Edition) with Full UK Support for 3G + 4G.
Honor 10 Lite – The Budget Selfie King!
Price From: £129.99
If you find yourself taking more selfies these days, then the 24MP front camera of the Honor 10 Lite is perfect. The low aperture and larger pixel size combined with Huawei’s AI processing chip makes for some epic selfies after a few glasses of wine!
Considering its display (6.21″) and battery (3400mAh) size, it’s managed to stay featherlite at only 162 grams. This combined with its 8mm thickness makes it a beautiful looking phone that’s easy to handle. While you don’t get a rear glass panel, it does means you’re better protected against drops.
The display itself is what you’d expect from a company owned by Huawei. It’s crisp, it’s bright and colours pops vibrantly. Pair this up with the mid-range Kirin 710 processor inside, 3GB’s of RAM and we have a very capable device for both everyday task and gaming.
At this price, there’s got to be a catch right? The first is that the EU version is missing 5Ghz WiFi which is reserved for the china only variant. The 2nd is it’s still using micro-USB making fast charge limited to 10watts.
If you’re looking for a capable photography phone with good performance and a sleek form factor, the Honor 10 Lite has you covered.
Tech Specs: 6.21″ Full HD, 2340×1080 resolution, 415 PPI, Huawei Kirin 710 (2.2Ghz | 8-cores), 3GB RAM, 64GB Storage, 3400mAh 10w Charging Battery, Single-band N WiFi, Android 9 (EMUI 9) with Full UK Support.
Motorola Moto g8 Power Lite
Price From: £99.99 |
Update 2021: Another big price-drop as the last g8 Power Lite stock sells.
The lower case ‘g’ isn’t the only strange thing about Motorola’s latest smartphone as it’s lacking in other areas as well. Even so, there’s no denying the excellent battery-life on the g8 Power Lite.
For some, the promise of staying away from your charger for 3-days, all-while carrying a fairly lightweight (200 grams) and slim (9.2mm) phone, sounds bloody fantastic! So you can head across to Amazon now :P.
But, it’s worth pointing out some of the shortcomings on this UK best-selling budget phone. Motorola has been been very frugal with g8 Power Lite.
For starters, it’s missing 5Ghz WiFi which offers much more reliable and faster internet speeds in your home. It’s also using the older micro-USB charging port which only supports 10 watt charging. On the large 5000mAh battery, 15 watts+ charging would be more appropriate.
My final gripe is that the 6.5″ display isn’t full HD. Why have a big, bright & beautiful display only to miss off Full HD clarity. Oh and let’s not forget it’s using last years Android 9 OS without a promise of an upgrade to 10.
But does any of this really matter? For some yes, for others not so much. I’ll let you decide.
Onto the pros, and you’re getting a water repellent design, (like we saw on the moto g7 Play below), excellent GPS tracking, plenty of sensors and it’s running on a bloatware-free version of Android 9.
But, make sure you check out the UMiDigi F2 (competition) below, it blows this phone out of the water, albeit with the same price-tag.
Tech Specs: 6.5″ IPS, 1600×720 resolution, 269 PPI, MediaTek Helio P35 (2.3Ghz | 4-cores), 4GB RAM, 64GB Storage + optional 256GB SD Card, 5000mAh 10w Fast Charge Battery, Single-band N WiFi, Android 9 with Full UK Support for 3, 7 & 20 (4G) bands.
Blackview A60 Pro
Price From: £74.99
The Blackview A60 Pro makes it onto this list with room to spare at only £74.99. Even at this price-point, we’re still getting a modern waterdrop notch display with impressive brightness levels.
It’s certainly not the slimmest in our list at 9.8mm, but part of the bulk is due to the large 4080mAh battery. This is more than enough to keep this phone going well into its second day.
There are a few corners that have been cut to help keep the cost down. The first is the 16GB of storage, although the A60 Pro does has a dedicated SD card port for expansion.
The second is the lack of fast charge support. This means you’ll be waiting quite a few hours for the phone to fully charge. Not a deal-breaker, but something to consider.
Finally, this lightweight (170g) phone features one of MediaTek’s new Helio A22 chips that offer solid entry-level performance with excellent power-savings. It’s not a phone for power-users, but it’s a great option when compared against the super-budget competition.
If you are using your phone for calling, messaging, browsing and taking the occasional photo, you can’t go wrong! That’s why it’s one of our favourite budget phones with hundreds of positive reviews by owners.
Tech Specs: 6.088″ IPS, 1280×600 resolution, 232 PPI, MediaTek Helio A22 (2Ghz | 4-cores), 3GB RAM, 16GB Storage, 4080mAh Battery,WiFi, Android 9 with Full UK Support for 3, 7 & 20 (4G) bands.
Samsung Galaxy A20 – Budget Super AMOLED Display
Price From: £149.99
Not to be confused with the A20e (which doesn’t benefit from a Super AMOLED display), the A20 is the first of Samsung’s budget smartphones to include Super AMOLED display technology.
If you love candy-popping colour and incredible black levels… then you’ll fall in love with the Samsung Galaxy A20.
The catch? it’s only a 720P display. This means you’re giving up a little crispness in favour of the advanced AMOLED colour reproduction.
You’re also getting a large fast-charge-ready 4000mAh battery squeezed into a super slim 7.8mm thick body. Although this time, the rear of the phone is made from plastic, helping it achieve its featherweight status at only 169g.
If you aren’t already sold on the display, then let’s talk about the impressive dual-camera setup. Samsung has combined a 13MP main camera with a 5MP 123° Wide-Angle lens so that you can frame every scene perfectly. You aren’t getting Samsung’s Galaxy-level camera quality here, but it’s fantastic for the price.
Close to the top of our £150 budget, the Samsung A20 is a great choice for media consumers who value excellent battery life. Just remember that you’ll be paying a small premium for the Samsung brand name, but in return, you are getting Samsung’s epic build quality and no-nonsense warranty program.
Tech Specs: 6.4″ HD+ Super AMOLED, 1560×720 resolution, 268 PPI, Samsung (1.6Ghz | 8-cores), 3GB RAM, 32GB Storage, 4000mAh Fast Charge Battery, Single-band N WiFi, Android 9 (One UI) with Full UK Support for 3, 7 & 20 (4G) bands.
Are Low-cost Cheap Phones Any Good?
This is a question I hear all the time. When you’ve been shelling out 40+ pounds a month to own the latest iPhone, it can come as a shock knowing you could be saving £100’s on a SIM-only smartphone.
Now before you get too excited, not all areas of budget smartphones compare to flagships £600+ devices. The most obvious of these is camera performance. Squeezing a DSLR camera into a slim pocket-ready display doesn’t come cheap. To get Instagram worthy photos you will have to shell out over the £300 mark. But, if you don’t have 25000 Instagram followers, then you’ll do just fine with one of the budget phones above.
What has trickled down into low-cost smartphones is the performance. The £100 smartphone of today, is more powerful than a 3-4 year old flagship. We’re also seeing 3GB RAM standard and as well as a massive drop in the price of SD Cards.
So my answer is, Yes. Pick the right budget smartphone and it’ll be the best decision you can make. It won’t be blazing fast, but you’ll have fat pockets from all the money you’ve saved!
Are Cheap Phones Reliable?
Another common question is: are cheap smartphones reliable? and it’s a valid concern as not every mobile manufacturer produces their phones to the same standards.
When you buy an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy smartphone, you know that they’re getting a fully tested, high-grade phone.
So how do we know what we’re getting when dealing with smaller manufacturers that offer low-cost smartphones?
Well hopefully websites like Review Hub will answer that question. We closely inspect all the budget smartphones that come through our doors for craftsmanship faults and performance issues.
To answer the question: Yes. We’ve been particularly impressed with the reliability of Xiaomi, Doogee, UMiDigi & Cubot.