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
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 months or 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 systems.
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 9 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.
Should I wait until Amazon Prime Day?
Amazon Prime Day is officially taking place earlier than usual for 2021, with the event kicking off sometime in June (Amazon is yet to confirm an official date).
Those who’ve partaken in Prime Day in the past will know that the Amazon event actually spans multiple days and is exclusive to Amazon Prime subscribers (who also benefit from other perks, like faster delivery, unlimited cloud storage and access to Amazon Prime Video streaming).
With no guarantee how long the deals currently listed here will run, or whether this year’s Prime Day deals will provide better discounts, if you’re enticed by a deal that’s currently on offer, we suggest not lingering on it too long.
Learn more in our guide to Amazon Prime Day.
1. Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC (6GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £169 (£80 off)
Poco’s excellent X3 NFC rocketed to the top of our Best Budget Phones charts so it only makes sense that this latest deal gets featured as well.
2. Realme 7 (8GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £203.99 (£35.01 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 now benefits from a discount on Amazon too.
3. Realme 6 (8GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £219.99 (£29.01 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 barely 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.
4. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T (4GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £179 (£70 off)
If you’re lusting after the latest and greatest super-fast 5G connectivity but don’t have the funds to splash out on a next-gen flagship, as well as a 5G-capable contract, Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 9T may be one of the most worthwhile options – in terms of affordable 5G. It currently benefits from an additional discount on Amazon too.
5. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 (4GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £139 (£60 off)
The beefier 4GB RAM build of Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 9 grants you a quad-camera setup and a headphone jack, as well as a decent discount on Amazon as of right now.
6. Xiaomi Redmi 9 (4GB RAM, 64GB)
Now: £99 (£60 off)
The baby of Xiaomi’s current lineup is the already-affordable Redmi 9, now made even cheaper by this latest Amazon deal.
7. OnePlus Nord N100 (4GB RAM, 64GB)
Now: £136 (£43 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 tidy near-£50 discount on Amazon.
8. Samsung Galaxy A21s (3GB RAM, 32GB)
Now: £147.50 (£31.50 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.
9. Huawei P30 Lite (4GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £199.99 (£130 off)
One of the last Huawei phones (for the time being) to come complete with Google Play Services and the Play Store, the P30 Lite is still a solid Android smartphone that packs a triple main camera and a dewdrop front-facing camera. Right now, it also benefits from a £130 price drop.
10. Nokia 7.2 (4GB RAM, 64GB)
Now: £219.99 (£30 off)
HMD Global’s promise of three years of software updates isn’t lacking here and neither is the clean Android One user experience offered by the Nokia 7.2. You’ll also find a pleasing HDR display and a £30 discount with this Amazon deal.
11. Samsung Galaxy A20e (3GB RAM, 32GB)
Now: £142.50 (£26.50 off)
One of the most affordable members of Samsung’s 2019 A-series smartphones, the Galaxy A20e still boasts great features, like a dual-sensor main camera comprised of a 13Mp wide and a secondary 5Mp ultrawide-angle snapper.
Better still is the discount it’s currently enjoying on Amazon. (Discount varies by colour, check before purchase)
12. Huawei P Smart 2019 (3GB RAM, 64GB)
Now: £138.99 (£61 off)
The capable Huawei P Smart line benefitted from a refresh for 2019, boasting great specs at an aggressively low price. This Amazon deal sees over £60 knocked off an already low RRP.
13. Huawei P Smart 2021 (4GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: £179.99 (£20 off)
The latest in a long line of refreshes for Huawei’s established P Smart series; the 2021 edition boasts 22.5W fast charging, a quad camera setup fronted by a 48Mp sensor and a generous 128GB of storage.
With only Huawei Mobile Service and the Huawei App Gallery on board, however, be aware that Google apps are a no-go on this year’s model.
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.
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