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.
Huawei Ascend G6
Low price, 4G and selfies
OS: Android 4.3 | Screen size: 4.5-inch | Resolution: 540 x 960 | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 4GB | Battery: 2,000mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP
Huawei has downsized its ultra-thin Ascend P6, slapped on a budget price tag and released the Ascend G6. It might not be the cheapest handset in this list, but for a slightly higher price you get plenty of premium features.
One of the biggest selling points is that the Ascend G6 is its 4G connectivity, which grants access to super-fast mobile internet. At the time of its release 4G was relatively rare in sub-£200 smartphones.
Since then 4G has been cropping up more regularly in budget blowers, some of which are a fair bit cheaper than the Ascend G6, but Huawei's effort offers decent battery life and a good range of cameras for the price.
The Huawei Ascend G6 also comes with an impressive front-facing camera for taking selfies, all wrapped up in a clean, if a bit unexciting, design.
HTC Desire 510
Speedy 4G internet for those on a budget
OS: Android 4.4.2 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 480 x 854 | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,100mAh | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: VGA
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.
Acer Liquid E3
Good specs considering the price
OS: Android 4.2.2 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 4GB | Battery: 2,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 2MP
Acer has done a good job at packing in some decent specs despite the Liquid E3's budget price. It comes with 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.
Nokia Lumia 530
A small smartphone for a small price
OS: Windows Phone 8.1 | Screen size: 4.0-inch | Resolution: 480 x 854 | RAM: 512MB | Storage: 4GB | Battery: 1,430mAh | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: N/A
The Nokia Lumia 530 is the first Windows Phone in our top ten, and it's very deserving of its place. Considering that it can be easily picked up for under £80, you get a pretty decent little smartphone for your money.
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.
Nokia Lumia 735
Cheap, cheerful and perfect for selfies
OS: Windows Phone 8.1 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,200mAh | Rear camera: 6.7MP | Front camera: 5MP
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.
Motorola Moto E (2015)
The new Moto E packs LTE and a few sweet upgrades
OS: Android 5.0 | Screen size: 4.5-inch | Resolution: 540 x 960 | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,390mAh | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: VGA
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.
Nokia Lumia 635
Fast 4G for a low price
OS: Windows Phone 8.1 | Screen size: 4.5-inch | Resolution: 480 x 854 | RAM: 512MB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 1,830mAh | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: N/A
The Lumia 635 brings everything we liked about the Lumia 630 with a few extra tweaks like 4G. Super fast 4G mobile internet is becoming an ever more common sight on budget phones, but that doesn't mean we should take those handsets under £200 the do include it for granted.
A 4.5-inch 854 x 480 display does the trick, along with a quad-core Snapdragon 400 and 512MB of RAM, which keeps Windows Phone 8.1 running well.
Microsoft has committed to upgrading Windows Phone 8.1 devices to its latest mobile operating system, Windows 10 Mobile, for free so you'll be able to get a shiny new and improved Windows Phone experience for a pretty low price with the Lumia 635.
If you're not too bothered by 4G then you can save even more money by picking up the Lumia 630, which is shorn of the connection – but those of you who want quick access to websites and to stream media, the Lumia 635 is an excellent choice.
Acer Liquid Jade
Acer's best phone yet
OS: Android 4.4.2 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,100mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 2MP
Although Acer is better known for its laptops and tablets it's also tried its hand at smartphones, and with the Acer Liquid Jade it's produced not only its best ever handset, but also one of the top budget blowers currently on the market.
You get a very decent 13-megapixel camera for the price, it's dual SIM and has some pretty good battery saving options to help keep the phone going when you're away from your charger.
It's not perfect, but for the price it offers a compelling reason to give Acer a try, depsite it not being the most recognisable brand name in smartphones.
- Read our Acer Liquid Jade review
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Waterproofing without the premium price tag
OS: Android 4.4.2 | Screen size: 4.8-inch | Resolution: 540 x 960 | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,300mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: VGA
Fancy a smartphone 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.
Motorola Moto G (2014)
The best budget smartphone money can buy
OS: Android 4.4.4 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,070mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP
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.
The 5-inch display is high quality despite being only 720p, the quad-core processor is adept at handling most tasks and it's got the latest version of Google's Android to boot.
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.