Best Cheap Phones in 2020: The Best Cheap Smartphones!

 

The prices here range from the cheap to the very cheap, so there’s hopefully something for everyone. These phones have quality screens, fast internal hardware, and good camera systems – they may miss out on one or two high-end features, like wireless charging, but they absolutely don’t compromise on core functionality.

As such, no matter if you are looking for the best cheap phones running Android, the best cheap iPhone, or the best cheap phone for photography, then our guide to the best cheap smartphones is the perfect place to start your search.

The best cheap phones don’t look or feel cheap at all. Based on our testing and reviews, you can get a very good smartphone for under $400 with all the features most buyers need.

Those on a budget will find that the best cheap phones offer capable cameras, big-enough displays for watching video and playing games and enough battery life to get you through most of the day.

 

  • Best phones: The best smartphones for every budget
  • These are the best unlocked phones: Choose your own carrier

 

You do need to make some trade-offs in this price range, as you won’t find the most powerful processors or special features like fast wireless charging, but overall you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what cheap phones deliver.

The best cheap phone comes down to a choice between the Moto G7 Power and Google Pixel 3a, with the ultimate decision depending on what you’re looking for in a smartphone. Moto’s phone beats all challengers when it comes to battery life. This handset lasted more than 15 hours on our web surfing battery test, which is 3 hours longer than the best flagships.

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST CHEAP PHONE FOR YOU

 

Flagship smartphones are great: they’re lightning fast, well designed, and come with a ton of extra features, too. But they come at a cost, and that cost is a lot of money. Most flagship smartphones now cost north of £1,000 to buy and, while the value you can get out of them can justify the cost, there is no getting away from the fact that it is big outlay, and especially so when contract costs then have to be added in on top.

The thing is, though, if you do your research well and decide exactly what you prize and need from a phone, then you can shop in the mid-range or budget phone market and get 70-90 per cent of the same experience as you would get if you owned a high-end phone, but for literally a fraction of the cost.

Most phone makers are cottoning on to this, too, with everyone from Xiaomi to Samung, and Google to Sony now offering some truly incredible handsets at fantastically low prices. Many of these handsets come with features that, only a few years ago, would be purely the domain of flagships, too, and in some cases we’re now seeing entirely new technology actually debut in these cheaper devices. Just look at the Samsung Galaxy A80 and its unique pop-up and rotating camera system as proof.

As such, the first step to deciding which cheap smartphone is right for you is to work out exactly what you value most from a handset. If it is the ability to play games on the go, for example, then that will help you lean toward a device like the Honor Play that specialises in running games at high frame rates and with eye-popping visuals.

Equally, if you absolutely must have liquid-smooth core operation, with fast app loading and UI navigation, then you know you need to look for a device that comes with a powerful processor and slick OS skin, such as the OnePlus 6.

Maybe you actually prize taking pictures more than anything else, and need a phone that despite being cheaper than a flagship device still delivers a powerful and versatile all-round camera system. If so, then a phone like the Samsung A9 with its stacked quadruple camera system will be more down your street.

Creating a list of primary and secondary features you’d like to have works well in our opinion when balancing want and budget, and then where possible try to pick up a device that delivers at least one feature from your primary list, and two or more from your secondary list. Naturally, many smartphones in our best cheap phones guide deliver numerous excellent features at very competitive price points, so we’re guessing you won’t have too much trouble balancing your needs with your budget.

 

THE VERY BEST CHEAP PHONES YOU CAN BUY TODAY: GET A GREAT CHEAP MOBILE PHONE DEAL

 

 

1. SAMSUNG GALAXY S10E

The best cheap phone in the world
SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 150g
Dimensions: 142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 5.8-inch
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,280 pixels
CPU: Exynos 9820 or Snapdragon 855
RAM: 6GB / 8GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 3,100mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.5-2.4 wide + 16MP f/2.2 ultrawide
Front camera: 10MP f/1.9

REASONS TO BUY
+Immaculate fit and finish+Beautiful AMOLED screen+Stylish, compact design

The Samsung Galaxy S10e isn't a budget blower, with its price point right now placing it firmly in the mid-range in terms of financial outlay, however it is in our mind the very best non-flagship level phone in the world in 2020. So if you can afford to stretch to it then you really won't be disappointed.

Indeed, T3 loved the S10e on review, granting it a maximum score of five stars and concluded that, "it certainly holds its own in terms of performance and design, and won't let you down with battery life, software, or camera quality, either."

And, for a phone that costs under half many other flagships, we think that competitiveness is simply remarkable and something that Samsung should be well and truly proud of.

Wrapping up the S10e package, of course, is a powerful internal hardware suite that includes a Exynos 9820 CPU, up to 8GB of RAM and a 3,100mAh battery, plenty of internal storage (up to 256GB) and what is probably the most slick OS skin on the market running on top of Android 10.

A truly fantastic smartphone package, and one that is available at far from a flagship asking price.

2. HONOR PLAY

The best cheap phone for gamers
SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 176g
Dimensions: 157.9 x 74.3 x 7.5 mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.3-inch
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,340 pixels
CPU: Kirin 970
RAM: 4GB / 6GB
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 3,750mAh
Rear camera: 16MP f/2.2 + 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor
Front camera: 16MP f/2.0
REASONS TO BUY
+Fast Kirin 970 CPU+7.1 Channel Histen audio+Awesome gaming performance

The Honor Play, despite being pitched as a mobile gaming powerhouse, is actually just a fabulous all-round Android phone that delivers a stunning package for a very, very low price point of only £279.95 – or even less at some outlets.

Seriously, you get some incredibly tasty technology in the Honor Play, including the rapid Kirin 970 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a very spacious 6.3-inch FHD+ screen. Solid if not spectacular dual rear cameras and a single selfie camera are partnered with 64GB of internal storage space, while the phone's in-built GPU Turbo tech means that mobile games run incredibly well, too.

And, with immersive 7.1 Histen audio and a 89 per cent screen-to-body ratio in play, enjoying those games, or any other media, really is a super enjoyable experience.

Simply put, the Honor Play seriously makes you question why anyone would spend more on a mobile phone, which in some flagships means a price 3 or 4 times that of this phone.

3. XIAOMI MI 9T PRO

A powerhouse cheap phone that hits hard across the board
SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 191g
Dimensions: 156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.39-inch
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,340 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 855
RAM: 6GB / 8GB
Storage: 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 4,000mAh
Rear camera: 48MP f/1.8 wide + 8MP f/2.4 telephoto + 13MP f/2.4 ultrawide
Front camera: 20MP f/2.2

REASONS TO BUY
+Flagship-level design chops+Some of the most powerful specs around+Price is very appealing

This handset builds on the excellent Xiaomi Mi 9 to add even more in the way of functionality and features – and it ditches the front display notch to give you even more in the way of screen (the 20MP selfie camera is moved to a motorised pop-up unit). Like its predecessor, the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro combines flagship-level specs with a design that's guaranteed to turn heads wherever you get this phone out. Combine that with a very appealing price and it's a fantastic all-round package from Xiaomi – one that's well worth a place on our best cheap phones of 2020 list.

4. ONEPLUS 6T

The best cheap phone for incredible speed and style
SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 191g
Dimensions: 156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.39-inch
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,340 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 855
RAM: 6GB / 8GB
Storage: 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 4,000mAh
Rear camera: 48MP f/1.8 wide + 8MP f/2.4 telephoto + 13MP f/2.4 ultrawide
Front camera: 20MP f/2.2
REASONS TO BUY
+Really nice design+Excellent display+Internal hardware still holds up

The OnePlus 6T is no longer the newest phone on the OnePlus block, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be considered for your next phone purchase: it remains one of the best cheap phones on the market, with a gorgeous 6.41-inch screen, some nippy internals, and a stylish design.

You don't get wireless charging or IP68 waterproofing with the OnePlus

5. APPLE IPHONE XR

The best cheap phone for ease of use
SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 194g
Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm
OS: iOS 13
Screen size: 6.1-inch
Resolution: 828 x 1,792 pixels
CPU: Apple A12 Bionic
RAM: 3GB
Storage: 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 2,942mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.8 wide
Front camera: 7MP f/2.2
REASONS TO BUY
+Slick and powerful+Very strong camera+Great battery life

iOS is without a shadow of a doubt the most fluid, straightforward mobile operating system in existence. Pair that with the durable, capable hardware found on the iPhone XR, and you have one of the best affordable smartphones money can buy.

Performance is fantastic, fuelled by a 6.1-inch LCD screen, Apple's A12 Bionic CPU, 3GB of RAM and a 2,942mAh battery that supports wireless charging. You're also getting Face ID (face recognition) for authentication instead of Touch ID (a fingerprint reader).

The camera isn't half bad, either.

While it comprises of a lone 12-megapixel sensor on the rear, it's much larger (in physical size) than anything Apple had used at the time – letting in more light and offering a wider viewing angle than earlier iPhone models. The result? More detail.

Rest assured, you aren't sacrificing a feature-rich experience by opting for a cheaper iPhone versus a higher-end variant like the iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro – all the key features you'd expect to use are there, including FaceTime and iMessage.

6. REALME 5

A lot more than you would expect, given the price
SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 198g
Dimensions: 164.4 x 75.6 x 9.3 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.5-inch
Resolution: 720 x 1,600 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 665
RAM: 3GB / 4GB
Storage: 32GB / 64GB / 128GB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.8 wide + 8MP f/2.2 ultrawide + 2MP f/2.4 macro + 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor
Front camera: 13MP f/2.0
REASONS TO BUY
+Very affordable+Well built+Headphone jack

If you don't want to spend very much money at all, then take a look at the Realme 5, which you can pick up for less than £200 if you have a hunt around online. You might think that gets you a cheap phone that makes a lot of compromises, but that's not the case.

Okay the specs aren't market-leading, but you wouldn't expect them to be. The design and build quality are good though, as is the battery life. The quad-lens camera isn't much to write home about, but it is going to get you decent shots more often than not, which is all that a lot of people want.

As is often the case with these Chinese phones, the software is a little quirky to say the least, and you might have to trim down some of the bloat on it. There's no waterproofing or wireless charging either. Overall though, we'd say the Realme 5 is one of the best cheap phones in the business.

7. SAMSUNG GALAXY A9

The best cheap phone for photography enthusiasts
SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 183g
Dimensions: 162.5 x 77 x 7.8 mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.3-inch
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,220 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 660
RAM: 6GB / 8GB
Storage: 64GB / 128GB
Battery: 3,800mAh
Rear camera: 24MP f/1.7 wide + 10MP f/2.4 telephoto + 8MP f/2.4 ultrawide + 5MP f/2.2 depth sensor
Front camera: 24MP f/2.0
REASONS TO BUY
+Incredible camera package+Large "Immersive Display" screen+Generous 6GB of RAM

Now available for close to £300 SIM-free if you shop around, the Samsung Galaxy A9 could tempt those who’ve resisted plumping for a second-hand flagship Galaxy.

The star of the show on the Samsung Galaxy A9 is its rear-mounted quadruple camera system, which delivers a 24-megapixel primary sensor with f/1.7 aperture, a depth-sensing 5-megapixel camera, an 8-megapixel telephoto sensor for long-range shooting, and finally a 10-megapixel ultra wide angle 120-degree sensor for capturing breathtaking panoramas and tall landmarks.

Oh, and that's not forgetting that the A9 also comes with a 24-megapixel front selfie camera as well - that's a five sensor camera system on a phone that costs just over £300. Madness!

It's not just about the camera, though, on the Samsung Galaxy A9, with the handset also coming loaded with a 6.3-inch FHD+ screen, solid Snapdragon 660 processor, a generous 6GB of RAM, and a well-sized 3,800mAh battery, too.

8. NOKIA 7.2

The best cheap phone for Android One speedy updates
SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 180g
Dimensions: 159.9 x 75.2 x 8.3 mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.3-inch
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,280 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 660
RAM: 4GB / 6GB
Storage: 64GB / 128GB
Battery: 3,500mAh
Rear camera: 48MP f/1.8 wide + 8MP f/2.2 ultrawide + 5MP f/2.4 depth sensor
Front camera: 20MP f/2.0
REASONS TO BUY
+No bloatware and speedy updates+Decent dual-lens rear camera+Impressive screen for the price

You can rely on Nokia for some excellent value-for-money phones, and the Nokia 7.2 certainly fits into that category: it's not a stand-out phone in any particular department, but the combination of design, specs, and camera quality mean that you get a decent amount of bang for not much buck.

The battery life on this 6.3-inch handset can stretch well into a second day, so it has the edge over most modern smartphones there, and it's part of the Android One program – that means a lightweight, bloat-free operating system, and guaranteed updates for two years.

9. HUAWEI P30 LITE

A great alternative best cheap smartphone all-rounder
SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 159g
Dimensions: 152.9 x 72.7 x 7.4 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.15-inch
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,312 pixels
CPU: Kirin 910
RAM: 4GB / 6GB / 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 3,340mAh
Rear camera: 48MP f/1.8 wide + 8MP ultrawide + 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor
Front camera: 24MP f/2.0
REASONS TO BUY
+6GB of RAM is plenty+Triple-lens rear camera+Performance is incredible (for a budget handset)

If the Huawei P30 and Huawei P30 Pro are too rich for your blood, may we recommend the Huawei P30 Lite? Huawei's well-established manufacturing abilities are still present and correct, you just don't get the top-end processors or cameras of the more costly models.

The 6.15-inch screen gives you plenty of space, the specs (including 6GB of RAM) are very competitive at this price point, and you do get a triple-lens rear camera thrown in as well – the cameras on the other P30 models outperform it, but it's still a very capable snapper.

Leave a Reply