The best phones for under £300 in 2022

Why spend upwards of £1,000 on a smartphone when you can pick up a perfectly brilliant Samsung, Nokia, or Motorola that's going to do exactly what you need it to?


by Ryan Houghton |

Whether you're on the daily Wordle grind, a casual bit of Double Bubble Bingo, or you're even breaking out some Raid: Shadow Legends, these budget phones for less than £300 can handle whatever you throw at them, no questions asked.

Budget smartphones have come a long way in the past few years, offering users a lot more bang for their buck than ever before. Whether it's a sharp camera, a mammoth battery, or some breathtaking visuals, you can expect to be pleasantly surprised when it comes to how much you can truly get out of these budget phone options this year.

Are budget phones worth it?

Budget phones nowadays are offering so much more value than ever before, with features that even the absolute cutting-edge smartphones of this year don't have (such as the sorely missed aux jack), as well as expandable memory support. Of course, with a budget phone, you're sacrificing some user features such as the latest Samsung S22's telephoto lenses, or the latest iPhone 13's stunning night modes, alongside its impeccable UI. If you've got the cash to splash, why not go for the best?

Are smartphones getting cheaper or more expensive?

Despite getting some great deals on budget smartphones, there's been a noticeable price hike in leading brands' smartphones over the past few years. In 2017, for example, the launch price of the iPhone 8 was £649, which is mind-bogglingly cheap compared to the £1,149 you may spend on the latest iPhone 13 Pro Max. But why?

It's largely down to manufacturing costs - in recent years smartphone components have become far more expensive than they've ever been due to silicon shortages. Plus, the technology is far more advanced and difficult to produce than it was even four or five years ago.

Related: Best iPhone charger cables

TL;DR - the shortlist

The details...

Without further ado, here are our top five picks for the best budget smartphones you can pick up right now that will give even the flagship phones of 2022 a run for their money.

Specifications
Dimensions: 159.2 x 73.5 x 7.9 mm
Display size: 6.43-inches - 90 Hz refresh rate
Operating System: OxygenOS / Android 12
Battery life:4500 mAh
Resolution: 1080 x 2400 p (AMOLED)
Rear camera: Triple - 64 MP (wide), 8 MP (ultrawide), 2MP (macro), 2MP (depth)
Front: 16MP (wide)
Video: Main: 4K - 30fps, 1080p - 30/60/120fps
RAM: 6GB
Memory: 128GB
Weight: 173g
Pros Cons
• Fantastic picture quality • Plastic body looks cheap
• Great charging
• Perfect for gaming

Overview

OnePlus are a fairly well-known competitor of Apple and Samsung, delivering some spectacular specs for a fraction of the cost, and of course, their OnePlus Nord CE 2 is no exception. Running the latest Android 12 OS, with 90Hz refresh rates and a beautiful full-HD AMOLED screen with HDR10 support, you'd struggle to find such amazing specs in even the latest and greatest smartphones.

But what about the camera? More often than not budget phones have fairly shoddy cameras, yet once again OnePlus surprises us and delivers a camera that is pretty great! With options for 4K recording, HDR support, and a solid 64 MP triple camera, recording looks fantastic for the price.

Our only minor gripe with the phone is the cheapish-looking back plastic that takes away from the otherwise premium build quality, but slap a new case on it and it'll look as sharp as any other smartphone out there.

Related: The best wireless phone chargers

Specifications
Dimensions: 76.1 x 8.12 x 164.19 mm
Display size: 6.67-inches - 120 Hz refresh rate
Operating System: Android 11 / MIUI 13
Battery life:5000 mAh
Resolution: 1080 x 2400 p (AMOLED)
Rear camera: Triple - 108 MP (wide), 8MP (ultrawide), 2MP (macro), 2MP (depth)
Front: 16MP (wide)
Video: Main / front: 1080p / 30fps
RAM: 6GB
Memory: 128GB
Weight: 202g
Pros Cons
• Fantastic mobile game support • Weaker camera
• Great battery life • Still using outdated Android 11
• Powerful processor

Overview:

Out of the gate, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro is a stunner, with 6GB of RAM, a Snapdragon 680 and that highly coveted HD AMOLED screen, not to mention its 120 Hz refresh rate, gaming is a delight on this phone.

There is very little the Redmi Note 11 Pro can't handle when it comes to gaming, as well as your general day-to-day socialising, email checking, and TikTok bingeing - you'll find little to no resistance with these basic tasks.

So what's the catch? Well, you might've noticed we haven't yet mentioned the camera, and that's for a good reason. The camera, despite being 108 MP, is pretty so-so. It isn't so terrible that you may never use it, but it's far and beyond ready to compete with the flagships of Apple and Samsung of this year.

Xiaomi's MIUI 13 is great to use but is updated very sporadically, meaning a lot of the time the software on offer is behind the curve. The Redmi Note 11 Pro is currently using an Android 11 OS, which is now outdated, so we eagerly await any sign of a potential update.

Overall, this is a really fantastic phone and is miraculous for the price point, it's perfect for gamers or casual users alike.

Related: The best Android tablets

Specifications
Dimensions: 165.4 x 76.9 x 8.4 mm
Display size: 6.6-inches - 120 Hz refresh rate
Operating System: Android 12
Battery life:5000 mAh
Resolution: 1080 x 2408 p
Rear camera: Quad - 50 MP (wide), 5 MP (ultrawide), 2 MP (macro), 2 MP (depth)
Front: 8 MP (wide)
Video: Main: 4k - 30fps
RAM: 6GB
Memory: 128GB
Weight: 198g
Pros Cons
• Brilliant 4K recording • No AMOLED screen
• Stylish, modern look
• Silky smooth browsing and gaming

Overview:

Despite its flagship phone's outrageous prices, Samsung always has some really brilliant budget smartphone options for those that don't want to miss out on the latest and greatest Android tech. Released in the earlier half of this year, the M33 is a fantastic budget option that's often overlooked by Samsung shoppers but is absolutely worth your time.

Powered with a nifty Snapdragon 750G, paired perfectly with a 120 Hz full HD screen (that's double the refresh rate of the iPhone 12), and as you can imagine, gaming is an absolute delight on the M33. You'll have little to no trouble leading your team to victory in Call of Duty: Mobile, or exploring the plains of Teyvat in Genshin Impact.

The camera can record in 4K at 30fps, as well as capture a range of stunning, natural-looking photos with ease. Of course, as with most budget phones, it isn't perfect 0- you'll struggle to avoid any grain in low lighting - but still, it's an impressive bit of kit for the price.

Related: The best iPad deals to snap up right now

Specifications
Dimensions: 165.9 x 76 x 8.3 mm
Display size: 6.7-inches - 90 Hz refresh rate
Operating System: Android 12
Battery life:5000 mAh
Resolution: 1080 x 2400 p
Rear camera: Triple - 108 MP (wide), 8 MP (ultrawide), 2 MP (depth)
Front: 32 MP (wide)
Video: Main: 1080p - 30fps
RAM: 6GB
Memory: 128GB
Weight: 185g
Pros Cons
• Fantastic performance from Dimensity 720 • No 4K recording
• Great photos
• Great battery life

Overview:

While we've been wasting our money on ludicrously expensive tech for years, Motorola has been quietly making some really fantastic budget phones that'll give its high-end competitors a run for their money. The Motorola Edge 20 Lite is a bit of an enigma; it's got a stunning full-HD OLED screen with HDR support, a spot-on 1-9 MP triple camera, a 5000mAh battery, and a beastly Dimensity 720 processor, so how on Earth is it below £300?

Related: The best Huawei phones of 2022

Frankly, we have no idea. Gaming performance on the Edge 20 Lite is just unbelievable. Paired with the crisp visuals of the OLED display, you've got an experience that would rival some of the later iPhone models that are worth over £500. Aside from gaming, you've got Android's perfectly fine UI that's basic, intuitive, and highly customisable, and plenty of picture-taking power to keep your inner photographer totally satiated.

Related: The best budget smartphone

Specifications
Dimensions: 162.9 x 74.7 x 8.4 mm
Display size: 6.5-inches - 90 Hz refresh rate
Operating System: Android 12
Battery life:5000 mAh
Resolution: 1080 x 2400 p
Rear camera: Quad- 48 MP (wide), 8 MP (ultrawide), 2 MP (macro), 2 MP (depth)
Front: 16 MP (wide)
Video: Main: 1080p - 30fps
RAM: 6GB
Memory: 128GB
Weight: 190g
Pros Cons
• Fantastic value option • Slightly clunky ColorOS 11 UI
• Great gamign capabilities
• Solid camera

Overview:

Last, but certainly not least is the ever-popular budget phone, the A74. Oppo's A53 was a smashing hit and remains one of the most popular budget phones ever made - so how does the A74 compare?

Everything we loved about the A53 is simply expanded on with Oppo's 2021 budget smartphone, there's the solid quad camera, the punchier speakers, a slightly upgraded Snapdragon 480 (with 5G support), and of course that whopping 5000mAh battery. Whether you're gaming, scrolling through TikTok or Instagram, or emailing colleagues, the Oppo A74 offers a pretty solid user experience for a great price, and we really can't knock it at all.

Related: Oppo Find X5 Pro review: a polished alternative

With over 1,120 million players, PUBG Mobile is easily the most popular mobile game ever made, and it's easy to see why. In a close second, however, is Pokémon Go, which still remains popular as ever with 1,000 million players. Multiplayer games have taken mobile gaming by storm with most of the absolute top mobile games being FPS shooters, MOBA's, or open-world RPGs.

Related: Best gaming phones for immersion on the go

Which smartphones have headphone jacks?

Actually, all of the options we've listed above have headphone jacks! Strangely, in a bid to save some space for larger, more powerful components and make their products look more modern, a ton of smartphones have recently begun ditching the aux jack, to our dismay. Luckily, there are still plenty of newer options available that still have proper wired headphone support.

Related: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review: The best iPhone yet

How have smartphones changed the world?

This is an interesting question that is hard to wrap up in such a short space, but they've truly changed our world immensely. Socialising as we know it has fundamentally changed and is far, far more instant than having to send letters or meet people in person.

You've also got a far more prominent connection with strangers, where you're able to see anyone's posts, interact with their messages by rating them, or respond to the message personally. This is but a tiny facet of why smartphones are so important in modern society - for better or for worse.

Can smartphones get viruses?

There's a common misconception that smartphones cannot be affected by a virus, but this is entirely false. A smartphone is just as, if not more vulnerable to viruses, malware, and especially scams. As we go about in public, phones can be accessed using public Wi-Fi, if you're browsing the internet, certain webpages can install all sorts of malware in an instant, so it's best to access sites with absolute caution, be aware of what you're accessing, and perhaps use a form of VPN or anti-virus software.

Related: The best internet security

Do any of our picks support wireless charging?

Out of our selections, only Xiaomi's Redmi Note 11 Pro, and Motorola's Edge 20 Lite support wireless charging, but we're bound to see much wider support for wireless charging in the coming future, even for budget smartphones.

Ryan is a tech writer and reviewer for What's The Best, specialising in PCs and gaming. He is a keen PC gamer and an avid reader.

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