The best budget phones you can buy right nowon June 14, 2024 at 14:49 Tech Advisor

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In many areas of modern life, a smartphone feels like a necessity. It’s what most of us use to get around, take photos, browse the web and even get into events.

However, many of the best smartphones certainly don’t come cheap, with some exceeding £1,000/$1,000 when buying outright. Even a mid-range handset requires you to find several hundred pounds or dollars upfront, which isn’t realistic for many people.

Fortunately, cheap phones have gotten a lot better in recent years, so you can still get a great handset while paying a lot less.

This article proves it, with 10 excellent phones that all cost £250/$250 or less. We’ve tested and reviewed each one, so can verify just how good they are.

Each of the 10 devices below are Android phones. The cheapest current iPhone is the £449/$429 iPhone SE (2022), so consider a refurbished phone if you really want something from Apple.

Alternatively, most basic phones are even more affordable, though they’re much more limited in terms of functionality.

To help you choose, we’ve also included detailed buying advice on what to look for in a budget phone at the bottom of the page.

Why you should trust us: Phone reviews and buying advice have been a staple of Tech Advisor’s coverage since the original iPhone was released in 2007 and Android made its first headlines in 2008.

We’ve guided you through 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G; we’ve reported on the rise and fall of Windows Phone, BlackBerry phones and LG phones. We’ve seen companies push the boundaries of what is possible on such a small device, continuing to make leap forwards in terms of both hardware and software.

But at the same time, we’ve seen those premium features steadily trickle down to more affordable handsets, meaning cheap phones are now better than they’ve ever been.

We perform in-depth, real-world testing on every new budget phone that’s worth buying (dozens every single year), adopting it as our primary phone for the most authentic experience possible and making sure we are in a position to give you the best possible phone buying advice.

Best budget phone 2024

1. Samsung Galaxy A15 5G – Best overall

Pros

Premium design

Solid main camera

Great battery life

Smooth 90Hz display

Five years of updates

Cons

Performance not the best

No water resistance rating

Relatively slow charging

Price When Reviewed:



£199

In 2023, the regular Galaxy A14 was a slightly better buy than the A14 5G. But this year, the A15 5G’s better performance and 5G connectivity gives it the edge, and there’s no competition in the US – the A15 (4G) featured below isn’t sold there.

Essentially, what you’re getting here is a sub-£200 that nails the fundamentals of a great smartphone. It has a well-designed, premium build that could easy pass for a much more expensive device. Battery life is excellent, stretching to two full days with light usage. And the 90Hz display is a joy to use.

The A15 5G might not have the AI features or seven years of updates from the flagship Galaxy S24 series, but One UI remains the best software you’ll find on a cheap phone. And Samsung’s commitment to four OS updates and five years of security patches is still better than any budget rival.

If you can put up with unremarkable performance, no official water resistance rating and mediocre charging speeds, the Galaxy A15 5G is the budget phone to buy.

Read our full

Samsung Galaxy A15 5G review

2. Motorola Moto G84 5G – Best display

Pros

Excellent 120Hz OLED display

Solid performance

All-day battery life

Decent 30W charging

Cons

Only one Android version update

Average cameras

Rear cover is dirt magnet

Not available in the US

Price When Reviewed:



£249.99

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 A15 5G, this is the cheap phone to get.

Read our full

Motorola Moto G84 5G review

3. Samsung Galaxy A25 5G – Best cameras

Pros

Excellent screen

Long software support

Solid battery life

Decent camera performance

Cons

Not the most durable

Only 128GB storage

Divisive rear design

Price When Reviewed:



£249

Given how good the Galaxy A15 5G is, why would you pay extra for the A25 5G?

There are a few reasons, especially as it still costs under £250/$250. A shift to Samsung’s Exynos 1280 chipset boosts performance, while the display is even more impressive with a 120Hz refresh rate. You also get an improved 8Mp ultrawide camera and stereo speakers.

Throw in the already-solid battery life, decent main and selfie cameras and those five yeas of updates and you’re on to a winner.

The only real reasons not to buy the A25 5G are the limited storage options and a design that won’t be to everyone’s tastes. Or if you’d prefer one of the two phones above.

Read our full

Samsung Galaxy A25 5G review

4. Motorola Moto G04 – Best under £100

Pros

Amazing value for money

Fantastic battery life

Decent performance

Great at the basics

Cons

Not waterproof

No 5G

Screen could be brighter

Not available in the US

Can you really get a good phone for under £100? As it turns out, the answer is yes, and the phone to get is Motorola’s Moto G04.

It costs just £89.99 in the UK (not available in the US), yet still delivers all the fundamentals of a great smartphone. Performance is absolutely fine for the basics, and the display delivers a decent viewing experience, albeit with limited brightness.

Battery life is a real highlight, with two full days of everything except heavy usage. And the Motorola software is reassuringly familiar, even if it only gets two years of security updates.

There’s no 5G support or official water resistance rating and the cameras aren’t great, but these can easily be excused at this price. The Moto G04 still offers incredible value for money.

Read our full Motorola Moto G04 review

5. Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 5G – Best design

Pros

Attractive design

Excellent 120Hz OLED screen

Generous storage

Good software support

Cons

Middling battery life

Obnoxious software

Hit-and-miss camera performance

Not available in the US

Price When Reviewed:



£279

Best Prices Today:



£279 at Xiaomi

The Note 13 5G isn’t quite the cheapest phone in the Redmi Note 13 range – that award goes to the Note 13 (4G) – but this is the one we recommend to budget buyers.

At £279, it’s slightly more expensive than our usual £250 limit, though it makes more sense to consider it a budget phone than a mid-range handset.

And you still get a lot for your money here. A premium design makes the phone feel a lot more high-end, as does the excellent display. It’s also nice to see expandable storage in addition to 256GB on board, and Xiaomi is offering a generous four years of security updates.

Battery life, software and cameras could all do with work, but the big disappoint is that the Redmi Note 13 5G isn’t available in the US. Despite its flaws, it’s one of the finest cheap phones around.

Read our full

Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 5G review

6. Samsung Galaxy A15 (4G) – Cheap with long support

Pros

Lovely display

Excellent battery life

Decent performance

Long software support

Cons

Average cameras

No waterproofing

Slow charging

Not available in the US

Price When Reviewed:



£169

As mentioned above, the Galaxy A15 5G is a better buy than the 4G model. But the latter is still worth including here, and it might be worth you saving £30 in the UK, though there’s no US availability.

Basically, the only things you’re losing out on are a bit of performance and 5G support. Everything else we said about the A15 5G still applies here, including the attractive display, strong battery life and long software support.

If you only use your phone for the basics and don’t live in an area with good 5G support, the regular A15 is definitely worth considering.

Read our full

Samsung Galaxy A15 (4G) review

7. Motorola Moto G23 – Great all-rounder

Pros

Elegant design and high build quality

Generous storage

Stereo speakers

Large, fast-charging battery

Cons

Slightly faded screen

Questionable wide-angle camera

Choppy haptics

Not available in the US

Price When Reviewed:



£199.99

The Moto G23 is another great choice from Moto that can regularly be found for less than it’s already-decent £199.99 RRP. Unfortunately, it’s not available.

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.

Read our full

Motorola Moto G23 review

8. Nokia G60 5G – A compelling choice

Pros

Large display

Decent main camera

Solid battery life

Three years of OS support

Cons

Mediocre secondary cameras

20W charging

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 under £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.

At this price it’s hard to fault the G60, though it does charge very slowly.

Read our full

Nokia G60 5G review

9. Motorola Moto G54 5G – Great 5G option

Pros

Impressive 120Hz display

Decent performance

3.5mm audio jack

5G support

Cons

Underwhelming cameras

Slow charging

Poor speakers

Price When Reviewed:



£179.99

Motorola sure knows how to make a budget phone, as this round-up proves. And the combination of an excellent 120Hz display and 5G support on a handset that costs under £200/$200 means the G54 5G is undoubtedly worth considering.

Other highlights include surprisingly good performance, plenty of RAM and storage and slick software. You even get a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Battery life is decent, though 15W charging is frustratingly slow. You’ll also have to put up with hit-and-miss cameras and a tinny speaker, but these are easy to overlook at this price.

Overall, the Moto G54 5G offers a lot of phone for not very much money. Looking for something even more affordable? Go for the Moto G34 5G or Moto G13 instead.

Read our full

Motorola Moto G54 5G review

10. Nokia G22 – Best for repairability

Pros

Unique repairable build

Decent battery life

User-friendly OS

Cons

Slow and laggy performance

Unimpressive screen

Only two years of OS updates

Price When Reviewed:



£149.99

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.

One thing to note is this phone will only have software support for two years from launch, 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.

Read our full

Nokia G22 review

Budget phones buying advice

1.

Should you buy a budget phone outright?

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.

2.

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.

3.

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.

You can also check out our round up of the best phones for kids.

4.

Which phone is best for students?

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, plus 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. 

5.

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.

Budget smartphones, Smartphones

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