Sign up for our daily newsletter


Best budget smartphone 2022: The best cheap phones you can buy in the UK


Looking to save money on your next smartphone? We reveal the best budget handsets you can buy in the UK

Aren’t modern smartphones excellent? It’s like having a mini-supercomputer in your pocket compared to the bulky handsets of old. Technology, on the whole, has been getting better every year and – crucially – much cheaper, too. You no longer need to hand over wallet-wilting sums of cash for your annual upgrade. Move your gaze away from those usual smartphone flagship big-hitters and you’ll find yourself a fantastic bargain, as there are some cracking budget smartphones to be found.

READ NEXT: Best mid-range smartphones

Yes, headline-grabbing flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 13 Pro Max are wonderful, but you no longer have to spend top dollar for a superb smartphone experience. Want to know more? Well, that’s where we come in. These are the very best budget smartphones you can buy.

Every year, Expert Reviews puts hundreds of smartphones to the test so you don’t have to, with the best coverage in the UK. That means we can definitively tell you which budget smartphone is perfect for you. Take a look below and you’ll spot our regularly curated list of the best budget smartphones you can buy, as well as a helpful budget smartphone buying guide.

Best budget smartphone: At a glance

How to choose the best budget smartphone for you

Picking the perfect budget phone isn’t easy, and there are all sorts of factors to consider when making your purchase. Before you head to the checkout, you’ll want to make sure you have all the bases covered. To make your decision a bit easier, we’ve highlighted the main criteria you need to look out for.

Should I buy a phone on contract or SIM-free?

Budget smartphones are, as you’d expect, cheaper to buy outright than other handsets, with prices starting at around £50 in some cases. As a result, if you have the cash, we recommend you buy one SIM-free. You can then find the right SIM-only deal from any network and sell your phone when you want to upgrade. If you don’t have the cash, you’ll need to go for a contract deal, but these don’t tend to be great value for budget phones as you end up spending much more by the time your contract ends.

Which smartphone operating system do I need?

With budget phones, there isn’t much choice when it comes to mobile operating systems. Bar one exception, every budget smartphone runs Google’s OS, Android. Rest assured, though: Android is easy to use, whether you’re a first-time user or mobile veteran. Just check which Android version the phone is running as older versions may no longer be supported with regular security updates and lack essential features.

If iOS is more your thing, you only have one choice. Apple’s iPhone 6s might begin to be showing its age, but it’s still on sale and remains an excellent budget Apple device. Generally speaking, iOS offers a far more streamlined experience, with apps appearing first on Apple’s storefront, but it lacks the customisability of Android.

What should I look for in a smartphone display?

While flagship phones are fitted with the best, biggest and highest-resolution screens, you can still find budget smartphones with high-quality displays. Cheap handsets usually have a minimum screen resolution of 1,280 x 720, but some slightly more expensive alternatives offer Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution displays for sharper viewing.

Nearly all of the budget smartphones we recommend use LCD panel technology, which is more than good enough. However, we’re starting to see AMOLED displays crop up at the lower end of the scale as well, which produce even better colours and a deeper black. Read our full reviews if you want to know how good a phone’s screen is.

Battery life and performance

Budget phones aren’t equipped with top-end internals. But that’s not to say their performance is bad – far from it, as we’re starting to see reasonably high clock speed chips make an appearance in handsets at the bottom end of the spectrum. To get an idea of what to expect from a phone’s performance, look at the clock speed of the chip (measured in GHz) and how much RAM is inside (anything more than 4GB will suffice).

Battery life is crucial, and each phone’s stamina is different. When considering your next budget phone, keep an eye out on the phone’s battery capacity (in mAh) – the higher the number, the longer you can expect the battery to last on a single charge. If you’re stuck, we’ve rounded up the longest-lasting phones in one place.

How much storage do I need?

It’s amazing how much storage you can eat through on a phone with apps, games and images. You’ll want at least 32GB of onboard storage and look out for phones with a microSD card slot, as you can cheaply add more space when your internal storage eventually fills up.

Best budget smartphones to buy

1. Xiaomi Redmi Note 11: The best budget phone in 2022

Price: £199 | Buy now from Amazon

Xiaomi hit a rich vein of form with the first few of its budget handsets to reach UK shores, and its newest smartphone is no different. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 is far, far better than it has any right to be for a phone that costs as little as this, and with upgrades across the board, it's an even more tantalising option than ever before.

Yes, the phone we’d recommend above all other wallet-friendly options on the market is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11. Xiaomi’s latest budget handset is powered by a surprisingly speedy Snapdragon 680 processor, which in our tests had performance that easily matches handsets costing twice the price. Its triple camera array, which includes a massive 50MP sensor, is also remarkable for the price, and it has a large 6.43in FHD+ AMOLED screen with a 90Hz refresh rate, too. 

You might expect to see these sorts of high-level specs in a flagship phone, so it’s a proper treat to see these features in a phone that costs this little. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 is the very definition of a budget smartphone, setting the benchmark for upcoming handsets, and at this price, you can’t do much better.

Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 680; Display: 6.43in 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 128GB or 256GB; Camera: 50MP, 8MP (wide), 2MP (macro), 2MP (depth); Operating system: Android 11; Weight: 179g

Buy now from Amazon

2. Nokia 1.4: The best budget smartphone under £100

Price: £90 l Buy now from Amazon 

A sub-£100 smartphone used to bring about negative connotations, but the Nokia 1.4 is far better than its bargain price suggests. Running a specially tweaked version of Android that caters to low-powered devices, the Nokia 1.4 exceeds all expectations for a phone so cheap. Despite the comparatively weak hardware (it only has 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage), it runs surprisingly well, has a bright IPS display and a camera that isn’t half bad for the price.

Its sturdy build materials and compact design should help it last the test of time, too, and the battery life has seen a huge increase with this iteration as well. It may be lacking when it comes to raw performance, and there are far better alternatives if your buying budget can stretch beyond £100, but when it comes down to sheer affordability, the Nokia 1.4 is the undisputed champion.

Read our full Nokia 1.4 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Quad-core 1.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 215; Display: 6.52in 1,600 x 720; Storage: 32GB; Camera: 8MP, 2MP (macro); Operating system: Android 10 Go; Weight: 178g

Buy now from Amazon

3. Motorola Moto G50: Best budget 5G phone

Price: £167 | Buy now from Amazon

Latest Moto G50 contract deals

Motorola outdid itself yet again with the Moto G50. The first of Motorola’s new naming system, the Moto G50 is the best value of the bunch, with phenomenal battery life and performance that well and truly packs a punch.

It might be difficult to pick between all of Motorola’s newest handsets, but there’s absolutely nothing bewildering about the Moto G50’s cut-throat value proposition. With cuts in just the right places, the Moto G50 hits the nail on the head in a number of areas, with respectable performance, a battery life of just under 26 hours in our tests, a decent suite of cameras and 5G connectivity. The only reason it isn’t higher in this list is that its display could be a bit better, and the fingerprint reader is in a hard-to-reach location. 

Regardless, if battery life and performance is at the top of your list of priorities, or you’re in the market for a low-cost 5G smartphone, then the Moto G50 is a standout choice in the budget category. 

Read our full Motorola Moto G50 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 480; Display: 6.5in 1,600 x 720; Storage: 64GB; Camera: 48MP, 5MP (macro), 2MP (depth); Operating system: Android 11; Weight: 192g

Buy now from Amazon

4. Apple iPhone 8 (renewed): The cheapest iPhone

Price: From £146 | Buy now from Amazon

It might not be Apple’s most up-to-date iPhone, but the iPhone 8 is still a solid buy. If your smartphone buying budget can’t quite stretch to the new iPhone SE (£409), then the iPhone 8, despite launching in 2017, will still serve you well so long as you don’t mind buying a renewed model.

The iPhone 8's build quality holds up in 2022, as does its lovely-looking 4.7in Retina display. Likewise, the A11 Bionic processor, while no match for the newest iPhone 12 and its A14 Bionic chipset, is still more than capable with a variety of intensive tasks. The iPhone 8 also supports the newest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 14, if you were worried that you might be outdated on the software side of things.

If you want an Apple phone on a budget and aren’t fussed about it being slightly outdated, then the iPhone 8 is clearly your best bet.

Read our full iPhone 8 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core 2.39GHz Apple A11 Bionic; Display: 4.7in 1,334 x 750; Storage: 64GB, 256GB; Camera: 12MP; Operating system: iOS 14; Weight: 148g

Buy now from Amazon

5. Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G: Unbeatable value

Price: £209 l Buy now from Amazon

The Poco X4 Pro 5G is yet another astonishingly well-priced Xiaomi handset. Featuring specifications that are more befitting of handsets that cost double the price, the Poco X4 Pro offers unbeatable value for money, especially if you live in a 5G area.

For not much money you're getting a smartphone with a surprisingly speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chipset, a large 120HZ Full HD display and plenty of internal storage. Another huge bonus is its 108MP camera, which is pretty much unseen from phones at this price, as is the blisteringly fast 67W fast charging. Add in the fact that this is one of the cheapest phones that can connect to the 5G network in the UK, and there's not much else you would want at this price.

Read our full Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 695; Display: 6.67in 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 128GB; Camera: 108MP, 8MP (wide), 2MP (macro); Operating system: Android 11; Weight: 205g

Buy now from Amazon

6. Motorola Moto G31: A budget phone with great battery life

Price: £157 l Buy now from Amazon

If battery life is at the top of your smartphone buying agenda, then the Moto G31 is a great fit. Lasting for almost a full 24 hours in our continuous video rundown test, the Moto G31's stamina is truly astonishing, with its remarkably energy-efficient MediaTek processor and large 5,000mAh battery.

But you also get a heck of a lot more for your (relatively little) money. The addition of a large 6.4in AMOLED display is a huge improvement both in terms of colour accuracy and brightness. Getting a screen as good as this for a phone this cheap is pretty much unheard of at the moment. The clean installation of Android is also a big bonus if you want your phone to be completely free of bloatware applications.

The only major downside is that the Moto G31 doesn't support 5G – for that, you'll want to get the Moto G50 listed above – and the phone's video is a bit lacking in detail. If you don't mind either of these setbacks, however, then the Moto G31 is a tremendous choice and is yet another stonking low-priced effort from Motorola.

Read our full Motorola Moto G31 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2GHz MediaTek Helio G85; Display: 6.4in 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 64GB; Camera: 50MP, 8MP (wide), 2MP (macro); Operating system: Android 11; Weight: 181g

Buy now from Amazon

7. Apple iPhone SE 3 (2022): The best-value (new) iPhone

Price: £419 l Buy now from Amazon

Latest iPhone SE 3 (2022) contract deals

The iPhone SE 3 (2022) might be stretching the definition of a budget smartphone, but Apple’s idea of what constitutes cheap isn’t exactly the same as everyone else’s. If you want a new iPhone – the renewed iPhone 8 above is getting on a bit – then your best-value option is the iPhone SE.

Despite having the look and feel of a phone from days gone by, the iPhone SE 3 is a formidable small-sized handset that benefits from Apple’s fastest-ever mobile chipset, the A15 Bionic. That’s the same processor found inside the iPhone 13, which costs more than twice as much. The cheapest iPhone by quite a distance, the iPhone SE’s 12MP camera is also absolutely exceptional. The only fly in the ointment is the short battery life, but if you’re able to spend twice as much compared to other phones on this list, then the iPhone SE 3 (2022) is well worth considering.

Read our full iPhone SE 3 (2022) review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core 3.23GHz Apple A15 Bionic; Display: 4.7in 1,334 x 750; Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB; Camera: 12MP; Operating system: iOS 15; Weight: 144g

Buy now from Amazon

8. Nokia G50: A solid 5G phone for less

Price: £179 l Buy now from Amazon

Not to be confused with the Moto G50 above, Nokia makes yet another appearance on this list. The Nokia G50 is one of the cheapest 5G handsets we've reviewed, so if you live in a 5G-covered area and you're hoping to make the most out of the brand-new mobile network without spending much money, then this is a great choice.

It helps that the Nokia G50 is a phone with plenty of positives. With a stunning design for the price and a generously large screen, the Nokia G50 is a bit of a beauty. The only reason it isn't much higher on this list is that performance isn't much better than its rivals and the cameras are rather uninspired. Still, if you can look past these relatively minor faults, you can do much better for your money when it comes to 5G connectivity at the budget end.

Read our full Nokia G50 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 480; Display: 6.82in 1,560 x 720; Storage: 64GB; Camera: 48MP, 5MP (wide), 2MP (depth); Operating system: Android 11; Weight: 220g

9. Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC: Unbeatable value

Price: £280 | Buy now from Amazon

Xiaomi’s Poco X3 NFC s also astonishing value for money. You’re getting a heck of a lot for relatively little cash with the Poco X3 NFC, punching through the budget boundaries in terms of screen quality, cameras and overall performance. 

Its name might be a bit of a mouthful, but the feature-rich Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC exceeds expectations in pretty much all areas. With a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G processor, it’s faster than most of its peers, and the quadruple-camera array (which includes a massive 64MP main sensor) even manages to give high-cost flagships a run for their money. Not to mention that the large 6.67in FHD+ display also has a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz, which is still a bit of a rarity at this price. 

With flagship-class specifications at an alarmingly low price, if you love a bargain, then this is as good as it gets.

Read our full Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G; Display: 6.67in 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 64GB; Camera: 64MP, 13MP (wide), 2MP (macro), 2MP (depth); Operating system: Android 10; Weight: 215g

Buy now from Amazon

10. Nokia 5.4: An astonishing budget smartphone

Price: £120 l Buy now from Amazon

If you’re willing to spend a little bit more than the Nokia 1.4 (at the top of this list), then you’ll be rewarded with an excellent sub-£200 smartphone in the Nokia 5.4. The slight additional cost gives you a handful of added benefits, including a larger 6.39in display, a 48MP main camera (complemented by ultrawide, macro and depth sensors), as well as a much beefier Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 processor.

For the price, the Nokia 5.4 is great value, with performance outdoing a good chunk of the market, even against phones that cost a bit more. If your buying budget can’t stretch to £200, and you'd rather spend a bit more than the Nokia 1.4’s asking price, then the Nokia 5.4 is a terrific choice. 

Read our full Nokia 5.4 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 662; Display: 6.39in 1,560 x 720; Storage: 64GB; Camera: 48MP, 5MP (wide), 2MP (macro), 2MP (depth); Operating system: Android 11; Weight: 181g