Best cheap phones 2017: our top budget mobiles

Update: The Lenovo P2 is no longer available from Three so we've had to take it out of the best cheap phone list and the Blu Vivo 6 is now also too expensive to feature. We've replaced them with the ZTE Blade V7 Lite and the Sony Xperia E5, plus there are a variety of new phones out very soon that we expect to see mix up this list.

In the past, the term 'best cheap phones' was usually a warning rather than a tempting proposition, with shoddy build quality, sluggish performance, laughable screen resolution and woeful cameras typically featuring on such handsets.

But this isn't the past, this is the present, and the market abounds with top budget phones.

While the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8, iPhone 7, LG G6 and HTC U11 steal headlines around the world, there's a lot of intriguing (and cheap) stuff going on in the world of budget phones.

Sadly, smartphone innovation isn't cheap – and most of it is reserved for high-end contract handsets. There is however such a thing as a good cheap smartphone, and ever so slowly all those amazing features from the flagship devices are trickling down to the budget phones.

Here's a selection of our favourite cheap phones that cost under £200.

  • Don't need to worry about cost? Check out our best phone list

1. Moto G5

The best cheap phone right now

Weight: 145g | Dimensions: 144.3 x 73 x 9.5mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: Snapdragon 430 | RAM: 2/3GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB | Battery: 2800mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Part-metal body at a low price
Crisp, vibrant HD display
Not the snappiest chipset
No NFC

Motorola's latest Moto G is now our best cheap phone in the world right now. The Moto G5 comes with a new metal design as well as a 1080p display and a fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone.

You won't get the fastest chipset on this list or NFC with the Moto G5, but as an all-round product the new cheap Motorola phone will serve you well.

Read the full review: Motorola Moto G5

2. Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus

Solid specs, strong camera and superb price

Weight: 158g | Dimensions: 143.7 x 71.9 x 8.6mm | OS: Android 6 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 1280 x 720 | CPU: Snapdragon 430 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 2700mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 8MP

Great design for a low price
Smooth performance
Screen is ‘only’ 720p
No HDR for camera

For just £170, Wileyfox has done wonders with the Swift 2 Plus. It looks and feels like a much more expensive phone, with an attractive aluminium build and smooth performance.

Its camera is capable of taking decent shots, its fingerprint sensor works well, and the Cyanogen UI is a genuinely thoughtful enhancement to the stock Android operating system.

Read the full review: Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus

3. Moto G4 Play

Another phone raising the budget bar

Weight: 137g | Dimensions: 144.4 x 72 x 9.9mm | OS: Android 6 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Snapdragon 410 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 8GB/16GB | Battery: 2800mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

Excellent value
Simple, appealing design
No gyroscope
Multitasking is a struggle

This is the lowest price phone out of all the Moto G products available right now. It features a 720p screen, but despite that the spec on this Motorola phone is still good including 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front-facing selfie shooter.

The best part is it's running Android 6 Marshmallow software and Motorola has confirmed it will soon be upgraded to Android 7. That means you'll have the latest software, something many high-end and expensive phones are still waiting to get.

Though note that Android O will be launching soon, and it's not yet confirmed whether the Moto G4 Play will get that.

Read the full review: Moto G4 Play

4. Moto G4 Plus

The high-end of Motorola's budget line

Weight: 155g | Dimensions: 153 x 76.6 x 7.9-9.8mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | CPU: Snapdragon 617 | RAM: 2/4GB | Storage: 16GB w/ microSD | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 5MP

Great camera
Bright, crisp display
Plastic build
No NFC

You may be wondering why we haven't included the Moto G5 Plus before the Moto G4 Plus in our best cheap phones list, but that's because Motorola raised the price for its latest Plus model, making it less of a bargain.

The spec for the G4 Plus is much the same as it was on the Moto G4, but it also comes with a fingerprint scanner and an improved camera.

The 16MP rear shooter is arguably one of the most impressive phone cameras at the sub-£200 mark. There's no NFC so you won't be able to use Android Pay on the Moto G4 Plus, but a bright display and strong performance is sure to make up for it.

Read the full review: Moto G4 Plus

5. Moto E4

Who knew the low-end could be so good?

Dimensions: 144.7 x 72.3 x 9.3mm | OS: Android 7.1.1 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: MediaTek MT6737 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 2,800mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

Slick design
Fingerprint sensor
Weak performance
Isn't all metal in some markets

The Moto E4 isn't our favourite cheap phone in the world right now... it's not even the best cheap phone from Motorola - those are the Moto G5, Moto G4 Plus and Moto G4 Play. 

But if you're looking for a truly cheap device, the Moto E4 is still worth a look. We particularly liked the slick design, Android 7 software, fingerprint sensor and the value of the phone.

There's still the issue of it only having 16GB of storage and the performance isn't fantastic, but if you can get over those things the Moto E4 could prove a great choice.

Read the full review: Moto E4

What's next? We will soon have a full review of the Moto E4 Plus, that includes a 5,000mAh battery and is only a bit more expensive than the Moto E4. Check back in the next few weeks to see where it places in the best cheap phone list.

6. Wileyfox Swift 2

Wileyfox does it again with this feature-rich budget blower

Weight: 155g | Dimensions: 143.7 x 71.9 x 8.6mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Snapdragon 430 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 2700mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP

Great design
Android 7 out of the box
Camera poor in low light
Only 720p screen

Another Wileyfox device has made it onto our best cheap phone list, and this one costs even less than the Swift 2 Plus listed above. We love the Swift 2 for its combination of low price and good spec. There's a 5-inch screen, 13MP rear shooter and Android 7 software right out of the box.

Our highlight of this phone is the design - it feels premium, while coming with a low price point. If you're looking for a lot of features for not much money and you like the design of the Swift 2, we'd recommend this as your next affordable phone.

Read the full review: Wileyfox Swift 2

7. LG X Screen

An always-on second screen

Weight: 120g | Dimensions: 142.6 x 71.8 x 7.1mm | OS: Android 6.0 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Snapdragon 410 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 2300mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP

Solid build quality
Second screen
Poor front camera
Fake-metal is unnecessary

LG's latest budget handset comes with one major selling point - it has a second, always-on display. No other phone that's under £200 is going to be able to offer you that and that's one key reason to buy the LG X Screen.

The spec may not be as impressive as say the Moto G4, but it still comes with 2GB of RAM, a Snapdragon 410 chipset and a 13MP rear-facing camera.

If you're a fan of LG, the X Screen may well be the best product you'll be able to buy right now if you don't want to shell out on a flagship phone like the LG G6.

Read the full review: LG X Screen

8. Honor 5C

Honor's impressive low cost phone

Weight: 156g | Dimensions: 147.1 x 73.8 x 8.3mm | OS: Android 6.0 | Screen size: 5.2-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 650 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP

Great value
Solid performance
Part metal frame
Scatty camera

Honor used to be a specialist in low priced phones, but most recent releases from the company have skewed a little more on the expensive end of the market. That's except for the Honor 5C though.

The Honor 5C is a strong choice for your low cost mobile upgrade. It comes with a 5.2-inch Full HD screen, Android 6 Marshmallow software and a powerful Kirin 650 chipset.

There's also a 13MP rear camera, alongside an 8MP selfie shooter to capture your gorgeous face and send it to your friends and family.

Read the full review: Honor 5C

What's next? The Chinese company has just revealed the Honor 6A, which is a device that will replace the Honor 5C. It's out now and we expect to have a review of the phone very soon.

9. ZTE Blade V7 lite

The cheap phone to choose if you're looking for beauty

Weight: 134g | Dimensions: 143.8 x 70.2 x 7.9mm | OS: Android 6.0 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: MediaTek MT6735P | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 2500mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP

Great design
Fast fingerprint scanner
Dull 720p display
Dodgy camera

We don't love the ZTE Blade V7 Lite like we do some of the other phones on this list, but the handset from Chinese manufacturer ZTE has a lot going for it.

The price is fantastic - as you can see above - and it comes with a premium feel, beautiful design and a fingerprint scanner on the rear of the phone. 

You'd struggle to find another phone that looks this good for this price and it also has impressive battery life too.

Read our full ZTE Blade V7 Lite review

10. Sony Xperia E5

The best budget phone from Sony

Weight: 147g | Dimensions: 144 x 69 x 8.2mm | OS: Android 6.0 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: MediaTek MT6735 | RAM: 1.5GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 2300mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Decent camera
Attractive design
Slow performance
No fast charging

The Xperia E5 is the cheapest phone in Sony's range of devices and has been in and out of our best cheap phone list since it was released in mid-2016.

We particularly like Sony's design on this phone, but you may struggle with it as it's not the best performing phone on this list with only 1.5GB of RAM to play with. 

It's one of the cheapest devices on this list though, so if money is particularly tight it's a strong choice.

Read our full Sony Xperia E5 review

Upcoming cheap phones

Should you wait for a new cheap phone to be announced? There's sure to be many more upcoming phone announcements in 2017, such as the new Moto E4 Plus that will likely feature once we've reviewed it, as the Moto E4 already sits in the best cheap phone list. 

We expect to have a full review of the phone very soon so it may be worth holding off your purchase if you like the look of the E4 Plus.

Motorola has also confirmed the Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus are launching by the end of August 2017, but both phones are too expensive to fit into this list as each is over £200.

We're also in the process of reviewing the Wileyfox Spark X, Honor 6A and Wileyfox Spark 2, which all have a chance of featuring in this list if any of them perform well enough.