The best cheap smartphones

You can still get a quality phone without going over budget

Cheap Smartphone Hero

by Kyle Purves |
Updated on

You might assume that the best smartphones have to be expensive, but there are plenty of high-quality cheap smartphones out there. Sticking to a budget doesn't mean you have to settle for a subpar phone.

While you're unlikely to run into any iPhones at a cheap price, there are many lesser-known brands that make smartphones with just as great features as the high-end options. In fact, if you're willing to settle for a phone model that's a couple of years older, you can get a big-name smartphone for less than £200.

The best cheap smartphones at a glance:

The best overall cheap smartphone: Samsung Galaxy A04s - View now on
The best value cheap smartphone: Nokia G11 - View now on
The best cheap smartphone for storage: Blackview A52 - View now on

Cheap smartphones are budget-friendly devices that cater to consumers seeking affordable options without compromising on basic functionality. These devices are popular among cost-conscious individuals, students, and first-time smartphone users. Despite their lower price tags, cheap smartphones often come with essential features like call and messaging capabilities, internet access, cameras, and access to app stores.

While they may not offer the cutting-edge technology found in flagship models, cheap smartphones provide adequate performance for everyday tasks like web browsing, social media use, and light gaming. Their displays, processors, and camera capabilities may be modest, but they fulfill the needs of casual users. Affordable smartphones are widely available from established brands and lesser-known manufacturers, giving buyers a variety of choices. We've examined our choice of the best cheap smartphones based on their strengths and weaknesses, but you can trust that all of these are well worth your consideration.

The best overall cheap smartphone

One of the best cheap smartphones available is the Samsung Galaxy A04s. It's a versatile piece of kit that excels in just about every department. The screen size is ideal, so you won't have trouble when watching videos or streaming your favourite shows. Speaking of streaming, the impressive refresh rate and solid processor make it extra reliable for getting a clear picture to view.

If we have any complaints to make, it would be that actually setting the phone up can take a while. Luckily this is just a one-time issue, but it's still a drawback worth mentioning.


  • Perfect screen size
  • Impressive 90Hz refresh rate


  • Takes a bit of time to set up

The best value cheap smartphone

While the Nokia G11 isn't the cheapest smartphone on our list, we do think it's the one with the best value. That's because you get an array of great features you wouldn't normally see in a phone of this price. Firstly, it has NFC technology, which is always a lovely extra bit of convenience. Secondly, the camera quality is great for this price range and should be good enough for amateur photographers.

We also want to note that the Nokia G11 feels great to hold. It's surprisingly lightweight yet is far from flimsy, so you get the best balance of comfort and toughness.

If you like the look of this but can stretch to another £50 or so, we had a great time testing the Nokia G21, which is another affordable choice.


  • Great value
  • Lightweight and comfortable to hold


  • Sound quality could be better

The best cheap smartphone for convenience

In terms of sheer convenience, the Ulefone Note 15 Smartphone is our winner. It's the cheapest smartphone on this list, so if you want the most affordable smartphone that's still high-quality, you've got it here. It's a pretty solid all-rounder too, sporting a respectable camera, a nice 32 gigabytes of storage, and better sound quality than you would expect.

The downfall of the Ulefone Note 15 is that it is not compatible with 5G or even 4G. When outside the range of Wi-Fi, you're stuck with 3G. That's manageable for WhatsApp messages, but far from ideal.


  • Easy to set up and use
  • Very affordable


  • Lacklustre cellular technology

The most durable cheap smartphone

Nokia C01 Plus
Price: $209.00

Another entry from Nokia, the C01 Plus represents what the brand is best known for; durability. You would need to actively try to damage the casing of this model. While the camera and screen are not invincible, you will find them to be more durable than what you would normally find for a phone at this price. It's extra impressive that, despite the focus on toughness, the screen quality is still very good, providing you with a clear and smooth picture.

Unfortunately, the C01 Plus does falter when it comes to memory capacity. Although 16 gigabytes is manageable if you only stream or browse content, if you want to download videos or games, you'll find that quite restrictive.


  • Durable build
  • Runs smoothly


  • Memory storage is a bit disappointing

The best cheap smartphone for storage

If the disappointing memory capacity of the last cheap smartphone was a dealbreaker for you, then we think you might like the Blackview A52. A whole terabyte is more storage than some laptops and computers, so you should never feel the squeeze for digital space here. As a result, it's also quite easy to transfer data through this phone, so we recommend it to anyone who wants to move or keep copies of their larger projects.

The Blackview A52 also has some nice accessibility features. The face ID technology is consistent and reliable, and the fingerprint sensor is even better. If you're tired of memorising passcodes and patterns, this is the phone for you.


  • Incredible one terabyte of storage
  • Handy face ID and fingerprint sensor


  • Charging is so-so

What to consider when buying a cheap smartphone

When considering buying a cheap smartphone, balancing cost and functionality is essential. While these budget-friendly devices can save you money, ensuring they still meet your needs and provide a satisfactory user experience is crucial. Here are some key factors to consider:

Your needs: Assess how you use your smartphone. Are you a casual user who needs basic functions like calls, messaging, and social media? Or do you require more processing power for gaming and multitasking? Understanding your needs will help you identify the essential features that work for you.

Operating System: Cheap smartphones often run on Android. Check the version of the operating system and the manufacturer's history of providing software updates. Staying up-to-date is essential for security and accessing new features. Android 12 is a good one to look out for.

Screen: While cheap smartphones may not offer the highest resolution, ensure the screen is bright, clear, and easy to read. The screen display is what you'll look at most of the time, so a decent display is crucial.

Processing power and RAM: Look for a smartphone with a capable processor and sufficient RAM. This ensures smooth performance for everyday tasks and prevents lags during multitasking.

Storage: Consider how much internal storage you need for apps, photos, and videos. Some cheap smartphones offer expandable storage via a microSD card, which can be a valuable feature.

Camera: While you shouldn't expect flagship-level camera quality, check reviews and sample photos to determine if the smartphone's camera meets your expectations.

Battery: A long-lasting battery is essential. Check the battery capacity and read user experiences to gauge the typical battery life under various scenarios.

Build: Cheap smartphones may not have premium materials, but they should still feel sturdy and well-built. Consider the design and how comfortable the phone is to hold and use.

Brand: Research the brand's reputation and customer service quality. Buying from a reputable brand can ensure better reliability and support in case of issues.

Reviews: Read reviews from trusted sources and user feedback to gather insights into the phone's real-world performance and any potential drawbacks. We've made sure to include real-world reviews in our choices and apply our own tried and tested expertise from reviewing smartphones.

Do you need an expensive charger?

You certainly don't need an expensive charger or any expensive accessories for your phone. That said, you don't want to cut corners either. Poorly-made chargers can be easily damaged and cause issues for your phone, and charging port, and in the worst cases could shock you. Essentially, even when choosing a cheap smartphone, you're best off going for an affordable yet decent-quality charger if possible.

What should you look for in a phone case?

Compatibility is the most obvious factor, but additional parts can be extra handy. Some cases come with sections on the back to pack holding the phone more comfortably, and some are even designed to make it easier to prop up on a surface. You can find leather or other soft material cases that double as wallets and card holders, or if you prefer something more durable, hard shells will provide your phone with an extra layer of protection.

Kyle Purves is a Commercial Content Writer for What’s The Best, with an avid interest in all things gaming and tech.

Subscribe to the What’s The Best Newsletter to keep up to date with more of the latest reviews and recommendations from the rest of the What’s The Best team.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us