Long gone are the days when ‘budget phone’ meant ‘bad phone’. You can now get a really powerful bit of hardware for a fraction of the cost of a flagship.
Take the Poco X3 Pro – our favourite budget phone of last year. It packs a big battery, fast charging, and the same performance you’ll find in phones four times the price. Right now it’s also got £30 off in the UK, making it hard to resist.
We’ve collated a list of some of the best deals we can find on cheap phones right now. Using a £250/$300 price limit, below you’ll find a host of devices that punch above their weight in terms of features, performance and design, considering their price.
What are the best budget phones?
There are our five favourite budget phones right now. As you can see, at the moment Xiaomi is pretty hard to beat:
- Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro
- Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
- Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC
- Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T
- Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro
For a longer ranking, check out our complete guide to the best budget phones.
Where to find the best deals on cheap phones?
The simple answer is that the best places to buy phones tend to be the same places you’d buy most of your tech: electronics shops and department stores. You can also check with carriers and networks, not to mention going direct to manufacturers’ websites. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Best budget phone deals
2. Realme 8 5G (6GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £219 (£30 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.
3. Samsung Galaxy A12 + Nintendo Switch + Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
From: Virgin Media
Now: From £22 per month
If you’re not too fussed about the OLED model, Virgin Media is also offering the Nintendo Switch and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with the Samsung Galaxy A12 on a 36-month contract. Starting at £22 a month with 2GB of data alongside unlimited calls and texts, it could be a good way to get a new phone and a Switch at an affordable monthly cost.
8. Oppo Find X2 Lite (8GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £299 (£70 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, bringing it down to within the price range of more modest hardware. Discount varies by colour, so double-check before purchase.
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.
With that in mind, the biggest players in the budget space right now are Xiaomi, Oppo, Realme, Motorola, and Nokia – though Samsung offers a few cheap handsets too.
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.
Where to find deals
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 local 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 tech deals right now feature for reductions on other consumer tech.
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