10 best cheap phones 2015: PAYG mobiles compared

We compare the best budget blowers on the market

Best cheap smartphones PAYG mobiles compared

With massive innovation in both hardware and operating systems, phones now do a lot more than just let you talk and text, and handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S6, HTC One M9 and iPhone 6 are stealing headlines around the world these days.

Sadly all this innovation isn't cheap – and most of it is reserved for high-end contract handsets. So, is there such a thing as the 'best phone on a budget'?

We've been through our extensive mobile phone reviews to find the best cheap phones at the moment, so if you're looking to pick up a decent handset for not much cash (under £200 in fact), these are the best budget phones going.

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Motorola Moto G 2014

1. Motorola Moto G (2014)

The best cheap phone money can buy

Weight: 149g | Dimensions: 141.5 x 70.7 x 11mm | OS: Android 4.4.4 | Screen size: 5-inch |Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Quad-core 1.2 GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,070mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP

Superb value
Improved camera
Lower sharpness than 2013 Moto G
Slightly disappointing battery life

What's this, a Motorola topping a "best of" list? Your eyes don't deceive you, Motorola is back and the Moto G is a cracking handset.

In fact the Moto G is the best cheap phone currently on the market, and if you're looking for maximum bang for your buck look no further.

The 5-inch display is high quality despite being only 720p, the quad-core processor is adept at handling most tasks and it can be upgraded to the latest version of Google's Android.

There's no NFC, and unlike 2013's edition there is no 4G version just yet, but those are minor concessions in what is otherwise a top notch smartphone

Read the full review: Motorola Moto G (2014)

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Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

2. Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Waterproofing without the premium price tag

Weight: 149g | Dimensions: 140 x 72 x 8.6mm | OS: Android 4.4.2 | Screen size: 4.8-inch |Resolution: 540 x 960 | CPU: Quad-core 1.2GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,300mAh |Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: VGA

Top level water resistance
Good battery life
Screen isn't competitive
Clumsy waterproofing flaps

Fancy a cheap phone which has taken its design cues from one of the hottest flagship handsets? Then look no further than the Sony Xperia M2, which has the same style as the Xperia Z3.

Add an attractive interface, impressive battery life and a sub-£200 PAYG price tag into the mix and you'll be laughing all the way to the bank with the Xperia M2 Aqua.

There are a few compromises to be had, as there is with every budget blower, so don't expect the camera to sparkle and the low resolution screen means you'll probably want to avoid watching movies on the M2 Aqua.

On the plus side the screen is 4.8 inches in size, giving you a whole lot of real estate for all your apps and games that can take advantage of the quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM.

Even better, if you fancy the waterproof features of Sony's more expensive Xperia Z3 but don't want to break the bank, then check out the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua.

Read the full review: Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

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Lumia 640

3. Microsoft Lumia 640

Microsoft strikes gold with this cheap Windows Phone

Weight: 145g | Dimensions: 141.3 x 72.2 x 8.8mm | OS: Windows Phone 8.1 | Screen size: 5-inches | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Quad-core 1.2GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,500mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1MP

Impressive display
Great battery life
Not the best looking
Older processor

The Microsoft Lumia 640 ushers in a new breed of Windows Phone with a large screen, increased RAM and an attractive new look.

Previous budget Windows Phones made a few too many compromises for our liking, but now that Microsoft has taken over the reigns from Nokia things have changed.

The Lumia 640 has a great display, superb battery life, a good camera and best of all performs very well compared to its competitors. If you're looking for an excellent budget smartphone, then it might be time to consider moving to Windows Phone.

Read the full review: Microsoft Lumia 640

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Huawei Ascend G7

4. Huawei Ascend G7

A good looking all-rounder

Weight: 165g | Dimensions: 153.5 x 77.3 x 7.6mm | OS: Android 4.4.2 | Screen size: 5.5-inches |Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Quad-core 1.2GHz | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Premium design
Value for money
Screen only 720p
Design isn't original

Who says budget phones have to look bad? Huawei doesn't seem to think so, with its Ascend G7 sporting an excellent design that has a distinct whiff of Apple aesthetics.

It's not all about the look, however, with the Ascend G7 packing in a surprisingly impressive set of specifications considering its price.

If you want a budget smartphone that you won't be ashamed to whip out in front of people, with enough muscle to run even the most demanding apps, then the Huawei Ascend G7 is definitely worth considering.

Read the full review: Huawei Ascend G7

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EE Kestrel

5. EE Kestrel

4G phone for a very impressively cheap price

Weight: 145g | Dimensions: 131 x 65.3 x 7.9mm | OS: Android 4.3 | Screen size: 4.5-inches |Resolution: 540 x 960 | CPU: Quad-core 1.2GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,000mAh |Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: 1MP

Low price for 4G
Quad-core power
Low build quality
Childish Emotion UI

If you want to get the fastest mobile internet around courtesy of 4G, but for the lowest price, then the EE Kestrel will be right up your street.

You can pick it up for as little as £99 SIM-free, or free with a contract. The design might not be to everyone's tastes, but underneath there's a decent amount of power to keep things ticking over.

This is a no frills handset, but for the price you're getting plenty of features – including that all-important super fast mobile data.

Read the full review: EE Kestrel

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HTC Desire 510

6. HTC Desire 510

Speedy 4G internet for those on a budget

Weight: 158g | Dimensions: 139.9 x 69.8 x 10mm | OS: Android 4.4.2 | Screen size: 4.7-inch |Resolution: 480 x 854 | CPU: Quad-core 1.2GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,100mAh |Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: VGA

Speedy operating system
Low cost 4G
Limited internal storage
Screen is not amazing

The HTC Desire 510 is a decent budget smartphone that packs a lot of features considering its price, though it suffers from a few too many compromises to appear any higher up this list.

It comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad core processor that's clocked at 1.2GHz and 1GB of RAM. These help Android KitKat to feel fast and responsive, and in benchmark tests it performed better than close competitors.

The Desire 510 also comes with a removable 2100mAh battery that lasts longer than many budget smartphones, as well as 4G support for super fast mobile internet.

What keeps the HTC Desire 510 from appearing any higher in our list is the camera which manages to miss out certain details in day to day snapping. The 4.7-inch screen is also disappointing, sporting a resolution of only 480 x 854.

Despite these compromises the HTC Desire 510 is a good choice if you're looking for a budget smartphone, especially for browsing the internet.

Read the full review: HTC Desire 510

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Nokia Lumia 735

7. Nokia Lumia 735

Cheap, cheerful and perfect for selfies

Weight: 134g | Dimensions: 134.7 x 68.5 x 8.9mm | OS: Windows Phone 8.1 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Quad-core 1.2GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,200mAh | Rear camera: 6.7MP | Front camera: 5MP

Decent front facing camera
HD Screen
Feels a little sluggish
Frustrating keyboard

The second Windows Phone entrant in our top ten is everything that a selfie lover could wish for, with a fantastic 5MP front-facing camera and a brightly coloured design that makes it stand out from the crowd.

Even if you're not too keen on plastering the internet with close up photos of your face, there's still a lot to like about the Lumia 735.

The 4.7-inch 720p screen looks particularly good, though the quad-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB RAM sometimes strain compared to other budget smartphones when it comes to performance.

Barring the odd performance hiccup, the Lumia 735 is a decent budget smartphone that will appeal to the younger selfie generation.

Read the full review: Nokia Lumia 735

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Motorola Moto E 2015

8. Motorola Moto E (2015)

The new Moto E packs LTE and a few sweet upgrades

Weight: 145g | Dimensions: 129.9 x 66.8 x 12.3mm | OS: Android 5.0 | Screen size: 4.5-inch |Resolution: 540 x 960 | CPU: Quad-core 1.2GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,390mAh |Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: VGA

Solid design
Great low price
Some display issues
Not enough storage

The second generation Moto E shows that Motorola isn't messing around when it comes to budget smartphones, as it continues the legacy of its predecessor as one of the best affordable handsets you can buy.

A whole host of new features have been added to the Motorola Moto E (2015) including 4G LTE connectivity and a decent – though not exactly premium design.

It also ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop, making it one of the cheapest smartphones to come with Google's latest mobile operating system straight out of the box.

The Motorola Moto E (2015) isn't quite as good as the slightly more expensive Motorola Moto G (2014) which, spoiler alert, appears later on in this list, but for the low, low price you'll be hard pressed to find a better smartphone.

Read the full review: Motorola Moto E (2015)

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Nokia Lumia 530

9. Nokia Lumia 530

A small smartphone for a small price

Weight: 129g | Dimensions: 119.7 x 62.3 x 11.7mm | OS: Windows Phone 8.1 | Screen size: 4.0-inch | Resolution: 480 x 854 | CPU: Quad-core 1.2GHz | RAM: 512MB | Storage: 4GB | Battery:1,430mAh | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: N/A

Very cheap
Micro SD card support
No front camera
No flash

The Quad-core Snapdragon 200 processor and 512MB RAM that the Nokia Lumia 530 comes with are enough to power Windows Phone 8.1 for a reasonably slick and smooth experience, though it is let down by coming with a rather paltry 4GB of storage space, but at least you can expand it with a microSD card.

The Lumia 530 also proves itself to be surprisingly adept at gaming and manages to keep pace with some of the more expensive Windows Phone handsets when it comes to playing graphically intensive games. It doesn't quite offer the performance of most of its Android peers in this list, however.

If you're after a cheap and cheerful smartphone that packs a number of features for a rock-bottom price, then you won't go too far wrong with the Nokia Lumia 530.

Read the full review: Nokia Lumia 530

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LG G2 Mini

10. LG G2 Mini

The LG G2's little sibling

Weight: 121g | Dimensions: 129.6 x 66 x 9.8mm | OS: Android 4.4.2 | Screen size: 4.7-inches |Resolution: 540 x 960 | CPU: Quad-core 1.2 GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,440mAH |Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.3MP

Amazing battery life
Excellent build quality
Low resolution screen
Some gimmicky software

With the LG G2 Mini, LG shrank down the LG G2 to bring us a smaller – and cheaper – handset. Although some specifications have been given a cut to accommodate the new size and price, LG should be commended for producing a handset that's still very desirable – especially considering its budget price.

Although the newer LG G2 Mini 2 has since been released, the original LG G2 Mini makes this list thanks to its excellent value for money proposition – something the newer handset has yet to beat.

Read the full review: LG G2 Mini

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