The Best Cheap Smartphone

Updated on 29 September 2022

After 31 hours of research and a thorough review of 53 low-cost smartphones, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 comes out on top. It is ahead of the pack thanks to its consistent performance and ease of use.

This comparison is certified 100% impartial and follows our selection process.

Our choice, Best budget

Xiaomi Redmi Note 11

This smartphone brings together many first-class features in a convincing and high-quality device. In our opinion, it is the best solution for everyone at a reasonable price.

£ 233.67 on Amazon

Like the Redmi Note 10 before it, the Note 11, is an excellent smartphone for average users. It combines good performance for all uses and even for gaming. Ergonomics and battery life are, of course, still of an excellent level. The only downsides are the lack of 5G and the photography, which still needs improvement. For a smartphone of this price, the results are still very satisfactory.

 

Best very cheap

Xiaomi Redmi 9A

It is a basic smartphone that will suit users looking for a functional model for standard tasks. It is a good first step into the smartphone world.

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Although limited, the 9A is the best in its price range. It will appeal to less demanding users who only want a smartphone for relatively simple use. It has decent performance, but don’t expect to take it on heavier tasks or you’ll experience a lot of slowdowns.

 

Budget alternative

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

If you want a model with 5G, this is a good choice. It is suitable for most users, as long as they are not gaming enthusiasts.

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The Galaxy A32 5G is Samsung’s most relevant model for the lower end of the market. It is equipped with useful features and is suitable for most uses. Application performance is good, although demanding games can bring it to its knees. Its LCD screen is also interesting, although the colour temperature is a little too high. Its real strength is its 2-day battery life. The photographic side remains its main shortcoming, with shots that are not very usable at night and could be improved during the day.

 

Our selection

Our choice, Best budgetBest very cheapBudget alternative
Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Xiaomi Redmi 9A Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
This smartphone brings together many first-class features in a convincing and high-quality device. In our opinion, it is the best solution for everyone at a reasonable price. It is a basic smartphone that will suit users looking for a functional model for standard tasks. It is a good first step into the smartphone world. If you want a model with 5G, this is a good choice. It is suitable for most users, as long as they are not gaming enthusiasts.
£ 233.67 on Amazon £ 99.95 on Amazon £ 319.45 on Amazon

 

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Honourable Mentions

Realme 8 Pro (£399.00 upon publication): eccentric but lacking in versatility. Behind its unobtrusive design, the 8 Pro clearly shows us the colour. On the menu: high performance, a beautiful screen and a very interesting grip. The photo is not left aside for all that with a 108 Mpx lens. However, the battery life is very limited (one day maximum). This picture is quite pleasing but does not allow it to compete with the more versatile competition.

Apple iPhone SE (£419.00 upon publication): an outdated casing, a modern heart. The second generation SE is a hybrid between an iPhone 8 and an iPhone 11. The casing, the screen, and even the camera are straight from the previous model, while the processor comes from the iPhone 11. The performance is therefore excellent.

Google Pixel 4a (£499.00 upon publication): the low-cost photophone. Although it’s slightly above the cheap category, the Pixel 4a is the most affordable solution if you’re looking for a photo-friendly smartphone. It keeps things simple by offering a seamless but effective solution across the board. For example, it doesn’t sacrifice the AMOLED panel or its ergonomics in the process.

 

How to choose a smartphone?

Nowadays, it is difficult to do without a mobile phone in your daily life. But not everyone can afford (or needs) the latest smartphone.

When our budget does not exceed £250, how can we be sure that we are investing in a model that offers good value for money and that will not force us to buy another one after only a few months of use?

Even though we are aware that it is impossible to find a smartphone in this price range that rivals the best-performing models on the market, we have determined the major criteria to observe before buying:

  • The processor: often highlighted on the description sheet, it is the heart, or rather the brain, of your smartphone. The more powerful it is, the faster you can navigate, perform complex tasks, etc. The processor (CPU) is coupled with a graphics chipset (GPU) that determines the smoothness of the interface and games. A latest generation processor can often push up the price.
  • RAM: this is what will determine the speed of your smartphone to perform tasks, and especially will facilitate multitasking (managing several pages simultaneously). It generally varies from 2 to 8 GB, always allowing for faster processing. But beware, having too much RAM is useless: it is one of the most energy-consuming elements of your phone, and it only guarantees the speed of the device if the processor can keep up.
  • The screen: while OLED (a device where each pixel is individually illuminated, generating better contrast and draining less battery power) is in vogue, it is an expensive device. Under the £250 mark, you will therefore find mainly LCD screens. These must provide sufficient illumination and good colourimetry. Finally, to obtain a correct display quality, you should at least look for an HD screen (720p).
  • The photo sensor: as we explain in our comparison of the best photo smartphones, there is no point in investing in a smartphone that rivals the pixel quality if the hardware quality is not up to par, because the result will be poor anyway. If you really want to get an idea of the quality of the camera, we recommend that you check out the existing tests.
  • Storage space: many smartphones nowadays offer you extended storage space via microSD card, but this is not always the case. So check what space will be most cost effective for you, depending on your needs. Below 16GB, unless you only use your smartphone for very basic purposes, you may quickly find yourself limited, even if only in terms of photo space.
  • The autonomy: this is probably the least reliable data. Expressed in mAh, it is only relevant if you have in mind the sum of the consumption of all the phone’s components. Thus, a smartphone may offer twice as many mAh as another, but it will not necessarily last longer. So, once again, we can only recommend that you consult the dedicated tests to get an idea of the real autonomy of a model.
  • Build quality: there’s no point in investing in a low-cost smartphone if you have to change it within three months. Of course, it’s very rare to find features such as water resistance certification in this price range but consider whether the package looks solid and has a good finish.

 

Translated by Aylin Akturk 

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