Best cheap smartphones: PAYG mobiles compared

We compare the best budget blowers on the market

5. Acer Liquid E3

Acer Liquid E3

Acer isn't the biggest name in smartphones so it's impressive to see its Liquid E3 handset charting so highly in our list.

Acer has done a good job at packing in some decent specs despite the Liquid E3's budget price. It comes with a a 4.7-inch 720p screen, a MediaTek quad-core 1.2GHz CPU and 1GB RAM.

Both the 2MP front facing and 13MP rear facing cameras come with flashes, which along with the vibrant 4.7-inch screen makes the Acer Liquid E3 give some of its more established rivals a run for their money.

The design of the handset is less than inspiring, but considering the price we can't really expect Apple-like aesthetics, but we also found call quality to be lacking. Even so, the Liquid E3 does a lot of things right and deserves its place this high up in our chart.

4. EE Kestrel

EE Kestrel

If you're really keen on getting a 4G smartphone, but your budget is small, then the EE Kestrel is certainly worth considering.

It touts itself as the cheapest 4G smartphone on the market with a PAYG price tag of just £99, and that gets you a 4.5-inch display, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 5MP rear camera, 1MP front camera, 8GB of internal storage, microSD slot and a 2000mAh battery.

The Android 4.3 Jelly Bean operating system is getting on a bit now, and the Huawei user interface isn't one of the best overlays we've used, but it's simple for those looking for a cheap phone with a decent spec list.

If you must have 4G on your budget smartphone then the Kestrel is a decent shout, but there are better options around.

3. Nokia Lumia 630

Nokia Lumia 630

The Nokia Lumia 630 finds itself several places above other Lumia handsets in the rankings, and for a number of reasons.

It has the same screen, processor, camera and battery as the Lumia 635, yet costs less because it's only 3G and not 4G. At the low-cost price point 4G isn't too much of a deal-breaker (if it is, think Kestrel then), and thus the lower price of the 630 makes it a better proposition.

You get a 4.5-inch display, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 512MB of RAM, 5MP rear camera, 1830mAh battery and the new Windows Phone 8.1 operating system.

The Nokia Lumia 630 is one of the best affordable smartphones currently on the market, and it only narrowly misses out on top spot due to the slightly better spec list on the Moto G and the powerful brand quality brought from Sony.

2. Sony Xperia M2

Sony Xperia M2

Fancy a smartphone which has taken its design cues from one of the hottest handsets of 2014? Then look no further than the Sony Xperia M2, which borrows its style from the Xperia Z2.

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.

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.

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.

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. It's a bit more expensive than the Xperia M2 but could be worth the additional cost if you get caught in a rainstorm, and still comes in under £200.

1. Motorola Moto G

Moto G

TechRadar Award

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 budget handset currently on the market, and if you're looking for maximum bang for your buck look no further.

Take a gander at the spec list and the Moto G simply blows the rest of the phones here out of the water: an excellent 5-inch, 720 x 1280 HD display, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8MP rear camera and 2MP front snapper.

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.

Looking to pick up a new mobile? Check out our mobile buying guide first: