There’s never been a better time to buy a low-cost smartphone. With flagship phone sales levelling out, manufacturers have put more effort than ever into making truly competitive low-cost phones that pull in premium features without the high price tag.
As such, we’ve collated a list of some of the best phones money can buy right now, assuming you’re on a tight budget. Using the same £250 price limit as our Best Budget Phones roundup, below you’ll find a host of devices that punch above their weight in terms of features, performance and design, considering their price.
Best Budget Phone Deals
1. Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro (6GB RAM, 128GB) + free Mi Band 6
Now: £199 (£30 off + free activity tracker)
Our favourite budget phone of the moment, Xiaomi’s Poco X3 Pro already represents phenomenal value and enjoys an extra discount, direct from Xiaomi. The company’s also throwing in its superb Mi Band 6 activity tracker on top for free too.
2. Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC (6GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £179 (£70 off)
Our Best Budget Phone of 2020, the Poco X3 NFC may have since been superseded by the X3 Pro, but it’s still an impressive value for money offering, only made better by this official Xiaomi discount.
3. Realme 8 5G (6GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £179.99 (£69.01 off)
One of the most affordable 5G phones of the moment, the Realme 8 5G sports a 90Hz display and a capable Dimensity 700 chip at its heart. This deal is for the 6GB RAM SKU but discounts on other memory and storage configurations can be had on Amazon too.
4. Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 5G (4GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £179 (£30 off)
One of the best affordable 5G phones out there and the perfect foil to the Realme 8 5G, the Redmi Note 10 5G currently enjoys an official discount, direct from Xiaomi.
5. Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro (6GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £239 (£30 off)
A fantastic screen, a 108Mp camera and awesome battery life make this discount on the budget Redmi Note 10 Pro difficult to ignore.
6. Oppo Find X2 Lite (8GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £209 (£190 off)
The baby of Oppo’s 2020 Find X2 line, the Find X2 Lite delivers mid-range performance and design out the gate but now that its successor – the Find X3 Lite – is here, it’s enjoying reductions, like this one on Amazon that brings it down to the within the same price range as more modest hardware.
Note: Discount varies by colour, double-check before purchase.
7. Realme 7 (8GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £219 (£20 off)
Our recommendation for the Realme 7 comes with the caveat of avoiding the base 4GB of RAM model. Luckily, this top-spec 8GB RAM SKU is the perfect antidote and benefits from a discount on Amazon too.
8. Realme 6 (8GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £214.99 (£34.01 off)
Despite the fast-paced iteration between the generations of Realme’s ‘number series’ and the Realme 8 now being on sale, 2020’s Realme 6 is only a year old and still a great deal. This 8GB RAM model comes with plenty of power and serves as one of the most affordable ways to enjoy a smooth 90Hz high refresh rate display.
9. OnePlus Nord N100 (4GB RAM, 64GB)
From: John Lewis
Now: £129 (£50 off)
The baby of the current OnePlus bunch, the Nord N100 is the most affordable way to enjoy the company’s superb Oxygen OS user experience and now it’s up for grabs with a £50 discount at John Lewis.
10. Samsung Galaxy A21s (3GB RAM, 32GB)
Now: £161 (£18 off)
One of the notable 2020 entry-level Galaxy devices comes in the form of the A21s; with a fast-charging 5000mAh battery and a 48Mp camera leading the spec sheet. Now with an Amazon discount.
Budget phone buying advice
There are a lot of affordable smartphones out there and although swinging for the lowest price tag can be tempting, it doesn’t make sense to skimp on a product you’ll likely end up using almost every day for years at a time.
Try and buy from an established brand that you know and trust, not only as bigger companies’ products are usually held to higher quality standards, but should anything go wrong with your purchase, more established players also typically offer more robust customer support.
Don’t expect affordable phones such as these to feel like miniature flagships; such phones most obviously sacrifice hardware and/or camera performance to cut costs, while others opt for lesser build quality or less-premium materials, such as polycarbonate instead of glass or metal.
The display and camera used to be two of the most obvious indicators that you were using a budget handset but even these fundamental pieces of phone hardware have improved massively in recent years. Entries like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro highlight this shift perfectly.
There are also devices like the Moto G9 Power, which place a focus on excelling in one specific area (in this phone’s case, battery longevity), whilst still feeling like a more conventional affordable phone in other respects.
One other advantage of buying a more affordable smartphone is that, if you’re after a contract, such devices are more likely to come with zero upfront cost, lower monthly pricing and, potentially, shorter-term plans. As such, they also make great first-time options for those new to smartphones, those who are accident-prone and kids.
If you’re looking to buy a phone outright, rather than on-contract, Amazon has some of the biggest bargains, but make sure you check the specs carefully – third-party sellers sometimes use Amazon to shift international stock, which may vary slightly from what you find in UK stores.
If you find that you’re missing out on Amazon’s Lightning deals, which run for just a few hours and offer limited stock, we’d recommend signing up for Amazon’s 30-day free trial of Prime, which will get you access to deals 30 minutes before everyone else. Plus, you’ll get free next-day delivery with the Prime trial, as well as access to Prime Instant Video and more. Sign up for Prime now.
Again, if you’d like to know more about the current affordable phone landscape, give our Best Budget Phones roundup a read or head to our best UK tech deals right now feature, for reductions on other consumer tech.
When is Black Friday 2021? Should you wait for a better deal?
Black Friday arrives on Friday 26 November this year, followed by Cyber Monday on 29 November, which leads to the question: should you wait until then for a better deal?
Yes, and no. If you urgently need a new phone or tablet and you see a stellar discount today, it’s easy: pick it up. If you have the luxury of waiting until November, however, it may pay off to wait.
There’s no need to hold off until 26 November itself, of course. In the past, the biggest and best Black Friday deals were typically reserved for the big day, but now Black Friday deals appear throughout November and sometimes, as early as October.
If you see dramatic Black Friday discounts before 26 November, just go for it! Some retailers that hold pre-Black Fridays sales also promise that prices won’t go any lower on Black Friday itself and offer to refund customers back the difference if it does. We already have a dedicated article answering all your burning Black Friday-related questions, should you want to know more.
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