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Best budget phone 2024: The top cheap smartphones in the UK, as tested and reviewed by us – plus Prime Day deals

Looking to save money on your next smartphone? These are the best budget phones to buy in the UK, fully tested by our team of experts

With prices rising everywhere we look, there’s never been a better time to consider switching to one of the best budget smartphones on the market. Some of the most sought-after features have slowly been making their way down to more affordable models, to the point where you can now get a whole lot of phone for not a lot of money.

Here at Expert Reviews, we’ve tested all of the best smartphones, reviewing around 50 handsets last year alone. We thoroughly assess each phone, using the most comprehensive testing process in the UK and a benchmarking spreadsheet that contains data going all the way back to the birth of Expert Reviews in 2008.

As such, we’re well equipped to separate the bargain budget handsets from the duds, and we’ve laid out our top picks below. We regularly update the selection, so you can be sure that our recommendations are always up to date.

You can follow the link below to jump down to our buying guide, where we lay out the most important features to look out for when shopping for a new cheap smartphone. Otherwise, read on to see our picks for the best budget smartphones to buy right now.

JUMP TO: Buying guide

Amazon Prime Day deal

The price of the Motorola Moto G54 5G has dropped from £179 to £140 on Amazon for Prime Day, so snap it up now for a £39 saving on the best budget phone overall. 

View deal at Amazon

Best budget smartphone: At a glance

Best budget phoneMotorola Moto G54 5G (~£179)Check price at Amazon
Best for battery lifeHonor Magic 6 Lite (~£250)Check price at Amazon
Best under £100Motorola Moto G13 (~£94)Check price at Amazon
Best budget iPhoneiPhone 11 (renewed) (~£176)Check price at Back Market
Best budget cameraHonor 200 Lite (~£280)Check price at Amazon

How we test budget smartphones

Budget smartphones are tested using a variety of in-house and publicly available benchmark methods. We test CPU and gaming performance using the Geekbench and GFXBench applications, available from the Apple App Store and Google Play. Both of these apps provide us with performance scores, which can be used to directly compare against other handsets.

Group testing smartphones with Geekbench 6 benchmarking software

Display testing is performed using a colorimeter and the DisplayCal software for Windows and Mac. This test provides us with figures for overall colour accuracy, as well as maximum brightness and contrast.

For battery life, we set the phone’s screen to a standardised brightness, switch off all data connections and play a 20-hour looped video. When the handset switches off, we charge it up and record the timestamp.

When testing a phone’s cameras, we always use a competitor handset for direct comparison while taking pictures in a variety of different shooting scenarios, including low-light and portrait photography. Depending on the lenses available, we may also capture ultrawide or zoomed images, as well as test available resolution and frame rate settings in video recording.

This is only a brief glimpse of the testing process we use when reviewing the latest smartphones. If you’re keen to find out even more detail, including how we interpret the various results, “you can read our dedicated ‘How we test smartphones’ article for more information.”

READ NEXT: Best Android smartphones

The best budget smartphones you can buy in 2024

1. Motorola Moto G54 5G: Best budget phone overall

Price when reviewed: £179 | Check price at Amazon

Motorola Moto G54 5G sitting face up on a desk, clock and apps showing on homescreen

  • Great for… Gorgeous display and impressive performance
  • Not so great for… Software support and low-light photography

The Motorola Moto G54 5G undercuts its predecessor on price, while delivering impressive upgrades to the display and overall performance – it’s the best phone in its class right now.

It’s great to see that the display has been bumped back up to 1080p. Contrast and black level are greatly improved, and the colour accuracy recorded in our testing was nothing short of outstanding.

Performance takes a huge leap, too. The MediaTek Dimensity 7020 chipset that powers the G54 5G delivers speeds that rival phones in the £200 – £300 price range. As a result, battery life takes a small hit over the previous model, lasting for 21 hours, as opposed to 23, but it’s still decent enough for this price.

Our biggest complaint is that Motorola is only promising one software update, topping out with Android 14. This is disappointing, as Motorola’s software is otherwise faultless, delivering as close to stock Android as it gets.

Read our 2024 Motorola Moto G54 5G review

Key specs – Processor: 2.2GHz MediaTek Dimensity 7020; RAM: 8GB; Display: 6.5in, 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 256GB; Cameras: 50MP, 2MP (macro); Operating system: Android 13; Weight: 177g

2. Honor Magic 6 Lite: Best budget phone for battery life

Price when reviewed: £284 | Check price at Amazon

Honor Magic 6 Lite review - featured

  • Great for… fantastic battery life and a beautiful display
  • Not so great for… middling secondary cameras and limited software support

Like the Magic 5 Lite before it, the Honor Magic 6 Lite started life as a mid-range phone before quickly being discounted into budget territory and becoming the best option under £300 for battery life. In our standard stamina test, the Magic 6 Lite didn’t quite match its predecessor but its result of just over 27 hours is still terrific for the money. Add to that a crisp and colour-accurate AMOLED display, an impressive main camera and a slick design and the Magic 6 Lite offers quality well above its price tag.

There are concessions, of course: performance is merely adequate compared to similarly priced rivals and the backup cameras are nothing to write home about. Most irksome is the software support, with Honor only pledging two years of OS updates. If you can overlook these bugbears, however, this is a gorgeous phone with excellent battery life, now reduced to a very tempting price.

Read our full Honor Magic 6 Lite review

Key specs – Processor: 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 6 Gen 1; RAM: 8GB; Display: 6.78in 2,652 x 1,220; Storage: 256GB; Cameras: 108MP, 5MP (wide), 2MP (macro); Operating system: Android 13; Weight: 185g

3. Motorola Moto G13: Best budget phone under £100

Price when reviewed: £94 | Check price at Amazon

Motorola Moto G13, rear view, in hand in front of a graffitied wall

  • Great for… great features on a budget and solid battery life
  • Not so great for… photography and there’s no 5G support

While budget phones often bring to mind sluggish performance, the Motorola Moto G13 bucks this trend by including a smoother 90Hz refresh rate for its 6.5in display. The resolution is still 720p so it won’t look as crisp as flagship phones, but swiping and scrolling feels more fluid than the 60Hz alternatives used by the vast majority of budget phones.

The Mediatek Helio G85 processor delivers decent performance for a budget phone, and the 5,000mAh battery fared even better, lasting for close to 20 hours in our standard looping video test. Throw in a 3.5mm headphone jack, dual-SIM capacity and space for a microSD card to expand the storage, and the Moto G13 offers terrific value for very little money.

Read our 2023 Motorola Moto G13 review

Key specs – Processor: 2GHz Mediatek Helio G85; RAM: 4GB; Display: 6.5in 1,600 x 720; Storage: 128GB; Cameras: 50MP, 2MP (macro), 2MP (depth); Operating system: Android 13; Weight: 184g

4. Honor 200 Lite: Best budget phone camera

Price when reviewed: £280 | Check price at Amazon

Honor 200 Lite on a geometric patterned grey cushion, face up with its display on

  • Great for… high-resolution selfie camera and impressive battery life
  • Not so great for… cluttered software and middling performance

It was a close call as to whether the Honor 200 Lite or the above Magic 6 Lite would be our top budget pick for photography, as both have excellent 108MP main cameras that capture plenty of detail and nicely neutral colours. But the Honor 200 just about clinched it by throwing in a massive 50MP selfie camera, as well. This lens is aimed at portrait lovers, producing natural skin tones and effective background blurs – though you’ll want to turn off the overzealous beautification.

The build is also wonderfully lightweight: at 6.8mm thin and just 168g, this is one of the thinnest and lightest handsets you can get right now. Despite that, battery life is a huge step up from the Honor 90 Lite, pushing to over 25 hours in our testing. Performance isn’t as impressive and the software is too busy but otherwise, the Honor 200 Lite packs a whole lot of phone into its lightweight frame.

Read our 2024 Honor 200 Lite review

Key specs – Processor: 2.4GHz Mediatek Dimensity 6080; RAM: 8GB; Display: 6.7in 2,412 x 1,080; Storage: 256GB; Cameras: 108MP, 5MP (wide), 2MP (macro); Operating system: Android 14; Weight: 168g

5. Apple iPhone 11 (renewed): Best budget iPhone

Price when reviewed: £176 | Check price at Back Market

Apple iPhone 11 leaning against a post in a plant pot full of decorative stones

  • Great for… affordable iPhone and decent battery life
  • Not so great for… only available second-hand and outdated design

It isn’t Apple’s most up-to-date iPhone, but the iPhone 11 is still a reliable purchase. If your budget can’t quite stretch to a brand-new Apple smartphone, then the iPhone 11, despite launching in 2019, will still serve you well so long as you don’t mind buying a renewed model.

The iPhone 11’s build quality still holds up, as does its lovely-looking 6.1in Retina display, delivering fantastic colour accuracy in our testing. Likewise, the A13 Bionic processor, while not quite a match for the latest Apple chipsets, is still more than capable for a variety of intensive tasks. The iPhone 11 also supports the newest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 17, 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 11 is your best bet.

Read our 2019 iPhone 11 review

Key specs – Processor: 2.65GHz Apple A13 Bionic; RAM: 4GB; Display: 6.1in 1,792 x 828; Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB; Cameras: 12MP, 12MP (wide); Operating system: iOS 16; Weight: 194g

Check price at Back Market

6. Motorola Moto G84 5G: Best budget phone display

Price when reviewed: £199 | Check price at Amazon

  • Great for… flawless OLED display and phenomenal battery life
  • Not so great for… middling performance and stingy software support

OLED displays are rare in the budget market, but the Moto G84’s screen would still be exceptional even if it cost twice as much. Brightness and colour accuracy were particularly impressive in testing: using a colorimeter, we recorded a peak brightness of 747cd/m2 and an average Delta E colour variance score of 0.63, both of which are outstanding.

Testing also showed some excellent stamina, with the G84 5G lasting for 26hrs 24mins in our looping video battery life test. Rounding out the positives is a solid camera suite that proved particularly adept at taking low-light shots – while not a patch on flagships, the clarity achieved is above-average for a budget phone.

Motorola has only promised one OS upgrade – bringing the phone to Android 14 – and the older processor was outpaced by the cheaper Moto G54 5G in testing. Even still, the flawless display, impressive stamina and competent cameras easily outweigh these negatives. For this price, the Moto G84 5G is a fantastic bargain.

Read our 2024 Motorola Moto G84 5G review

Key specs – Processor: 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G; RAM: 12GB; Display: 6.5in, 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 256GB; Cameras: 50MP, 8MP (wide); Operating system: Android 13; Weight: 169g

7. Nokia G42 5G: Best budget phone for repairability

Price when reviewed: £176 | Check price at Amazon

Nokia G42 5G front view, leaning on a stack of comic books

  • Great for… repairable design and impressive battery life
  • Not so great for… limited software support and middling colour accuracy

The G42 5G is the second in Nokia’s line of repairable phones, and once again you can perform repairs such as replacing the battery or charging port yourself, with affordable spare parts, tools and guides available on the iFixit website. Repairs can be done in as little as five minutes – including the battery replacement we performed during testing – and most importantly, doing them doesn’t void the phone’s warranty or compromise the IP52 dust and water resistance rating.

On top of the repair-friendly design, the Nokia G42 5G puts in a solid showing for its price range, with competitive performance in both CPU and GPU benchmarks, and particularly impressive battery life. The repairability is somewhat undermined by the brand only pledging two software updates, and display colour accuracy could be better, but for a decent budget phone that’s easy to patch up yourself, the Nokia G42 5G is the best out there.

Read our 2023 Nokia G42 5G review

Key specs – Processor: 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 Plus 5G; RAM: 6GB; Display: 6.56in 1,612 x 720; Storage: 128GB; Cameras: 50MP, 2MP (macro), 2MP (depth); Operating system: Android 13; Weight: 194g

8. iPhone SE 3 (2022): Best-value new iPhone

Price when reviewed: £379 | Check price at John Lewis

Apple iPhone SE 3 (2022) in hand, in front of a bush with red flowers

  • Great for… compact design and terrific performance
  • Not so great for… battery life and display is only 60Hz

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 newer iPhone – the renewed iPhone 11 above is a few years old – 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 speedy A15 Bionic chipset. That’s the same processor found inside the iPhone 13, which originally cost more than twice as much.

The iPhone SE’s 12MP camera is also absolutely exceptional, producing crisp and vibrant images during our camera testing. The only fly in the ointment is the short battery life, lasting a hair over 12 hours in our test. If you can accept that caveat, the iPhone SE 3 (2022) is otherwise an impressive compact handset, and the most affordable new iPhone around.

Read our 2022 iPhone SE 3 (2022) review

Key specs – Processor: 3.23GHz Apple A15 Bionic; RAM: 4GB; Display: 4.7in 1,334 x 750; Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB; Camera: 12MP; Operating system: iOS 15; Weight: 144g

Check price at John Lewis

How to choose the best budget phone for you

How much should I spend?

This is the key question, and while the definition of budget can differ from person to person, when it comes to smartphones, we’re generally looking at handsets that fall under or around the £300 mark. That may sound a little high to be called budget, but phone prices in general have steadily been rising, so the goalposts for what is considered an affordable model have been moving with them.

To be clear, that’s an upper limit, not an average – you can find impressively specced phones for closer to £100 if your budget is particularly tight. In the opposite direction, iPhones tend to carry higher premiums, so if you want that Apple logo, expect to spend a little more.

What kind of features should I look out for?

While budget smartphones don’t get all of the bells and whistles that their £1,000+ flagship counterparts offer, there’s still plenty of functionality in this price range. These are the top things to bear in mind while shopping:

Display: This is an area in which budget phones have improved massively over the past few years. Plenty of handsets now offer Full HD (1080p) resolutions and 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rates, meaning that everything will look sharp and scrolling will feel smooth. Most are LCD screens, but OLED displays have started cropping up around this price as well, offering more vibrant colours and a deeper black level.

Cameras: You won’t see far-reaching telephoto lenses at this price, but otherwise, budget cameras have come a long way. Megapixel (MP) count gives you an idea of the camera’s resolution (how detailed images are, basically), but to see how well they perform, check out our full reviews, where we publish camera samples for you to peruse.

Battery life: Battery capacity is measured in milliamps-per-hour (mAh) and the general rule is that higher-capacity batteries should last longer on a single charge. We’ve tested all of these devices, so you can jump over to our full reviews to see exactly how long each lasted in our standardised test. You can also check our best phone battery life ranking page to see what models offer the absolute best stamina.

Performance: You can get an idea of a phone’s performance by checking the clock speed of the processor (measured in GHz) and how much RAM is inside (anything more than 4GB will do nicely). We list both of these in the key specs of each mini-review, so you can see at a glance roughly how well each phone will perform. If you like to play phone games, check our full reviews to see how well each model performed in our tests; all entries here will handle the likes of Candy Crush well enough, but some may struggle with more demanding 3D games.

Storage: There are three main storage capacities you’ll see in budget phones: 64GB, 128GB and 256GB. More storage space will naturally allow for more apps, photos, videos and the like, but you can get away with picking up a lower-capacity model if it also has a microSD card slot, allowing you to add more space when the internal storage fills up.

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