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Best budget smartphone 2019: the top cheap mobiles around

Best budget smartphone
Image Credit: TechRadar

The best cheap phone needs to do many things: it needs to have advanced specs and useful tools to stay competitive, all while keeping a nice low price tag – thankfully there are quite a few handsets that are affordable and great, and we've made a list of the best below.

Don't be put off by the 'best cheap phone' title then, because that doesn't mean 'bad phones that aren't as bad as the other bad handsets', although it used to. No, these affordable handsets have good build quality, decent performance, competitive cameras and more, all without costing too much,

When we call a phone cheap, that means a lot, and compared to a £1,000 iPhone, a decent mid-ranger could be seen as cheap. For this list, we're using the cut-off point as a £200 price tag. That doesn't mean all the phones come close, with some less than £100, and that's because when we review a handset, its price is important in how we rate it, and there are plenty of double-digit-price devices that are great.

So we wrote this round-up of all the best affordable devices TechRadar has reviewed, so help you spend less money while still getting a decent handset. The cheap phone market is pretty busy, but these are the ones you should spend your money on.

Bear in mind, these won't be smartphones that with all the bells and whistles of flagships like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, iPhone 11 Pro Max, Huawei Mate 30 Pro, Google Pixel 4 and OnePlus 7T Pro, but with commendable specs and features anyway.

People who have been looking at budget phones for a while, may have noticed this list hasn't changed much over the course of 2019, with the top spot firmly owned by Huawei. This is because, while the cheap phone market is busy, the top dogs are from known brands with tech they can offer at a low price.

Saying that, some new contenders are circling, with the likes Redmi and Realme rather new to the list, and due to the Huawei ban it's unlikely there will be a Huawei P Smart 2020, so in the coming months this list could see a major reshuffle.

If you already have a favourite budget smartphone brand that you're interested in, you might also be interested in our round-ups of the best Motorola phones, Nokia phones, and LG phones as well as this list.

What you need to know about Black Friday 2019
Smartphones are often significantly discounted around Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the UK. It's unlikely we'll see any game-changing price differences in terms of budget smartphones as most of the discounts are usually around contracts for flagship phones, but you may be able to bag yourself a bargain on one of the devices below if you can wait until the end of November.

Best cheap phones at a glance:

  1. Huawei P Smart (2019)
  2. Honor 10 Lite
  3. Moto G7 Power
  4. Redmi Note 7
  5. Realme 3 Pro
  6. Moto E6 Plus
  7. Moto G7 Play
  8. Moto G6
  9. Nokia 4.2
  10. Redmi 7A

Best cheap phones:

Best cheap phone

1. Huawei P Smart (2019)

The best cheap phone you can buy right now

Weight: 160g | Dimensions: 155.2 x 73.4 x 8mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.21-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Kirin 710 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 3,400mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP | Front camera: 8/16MP

Slick design at great price
Ample storage
Only one speaker
Camera can overly process

The Huawei P Smart 2019 is the best cheap phone you can buy right now, and has been for some time.

It packs a usable camera, plenty of storage and great battery life as well as a screen and design that punch way above their weight.  

There is very little between the Huawei P Smart and the Honor 10 Lite, and they're practically the same device, but the P Smart tops our list with its slightly sharper design.

Read our full review: Huawei P Smart (2019)

Best cheap phone

2. Honor 10 Lite

A worthy runner-up to our best cheap phone

Weight: 162g | Dimensions: 154.8 x 73.6 x 8mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.21-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Kirin 710 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 3,400mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP | Front camera: 24MP

Premium look for low cost
Great display
MicroUSB port is dated

The Honor 10 Lite is a little unlucky to find itself second in our best budget smartphone round-up, as it can make a strong case for being first as it's almost identical to the P Smart (2019).

If you're a frequent Snapchatter or selfie addict the 24MP front-facing camera on the Honor 10 Lite is the one for you.

If you're thinking "isn't there a Honor 20 Lite out?" you're totally right, but there's very little difference between that and the Honor 10 Lite, save the price tag, so we're keeping the older device up here for now.

Read our full review: Honor 10 Lite

Best cheap phone

3. Moto G7 Power

The best cheap phone for battery hogs

Weight: 193g | Dimensions: 159.4 x 76 x 9.3mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1570 | CPU: Snapdragon 632 | RAM: 3/4GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Massive battery
Good gaming performance
Bulky design
Wi-Fi can be patchy

This is the best budget smartphone when it comes to battery, with the Moto G7 Power packing a mammoth 5,000mAh power pack.

It’s also awkwardly big, but for those who want two days (and sometimes more) from a single charge no other smartphone around can match the Moto G7 Power right now.  

The Moto G8 Power could be announced soon, as the G8 Plus has been, so this entry could be replaced at some point in late 2019 or early 2020.

Read our full review: Moto G7 Power

Best budget smartphone

4. Realme 3 Pro

The Realme 3 Pro makes a great impression for a cheap phone

Weight: 172g | Dimensions: 156.8 x 74.2 x 8.3mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.3-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Snapdragon 710 | RAM: 4/6GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 4,045mAh | Rear camera: 16MP + 5MP | Front camera: 25MP

Class-leading camera
Great screen and fast charging
Fussy software
No NFC or USB-C

Sporting an eye-catching and robust design, along with a bright capacious screen, decent speakers, generous specifications and a powerful chipset, the Realme 3 Pro really does have an odd character of its own.

Though its software design might be divisive, it has no major issues. It has a class-leading camera for the price point, along with dependable stamina and the handy option of very fast charging. 

Read our full review: Realme 3 Pro

Best budget smartphone

5. Xiaomi Redmi Note 7

A great mix of features for an attractive price tag

Weight: 186g | Dimensions: 159.2 x 75.2 x 8.1mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.3-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Snapdragon 660 | RAM: 3/4GB | Storage: 32/64/128GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 5MP | Front camera: 13MP

Stellar battery life
Big, vibrant screen
Overblown software
Camera could be better

Xiaomi should be proud, the Redmi Note 7 is a real achievement - one that puts many other smartphone manufacturers to shame.

It's difficult to find many other phones than can offer what the Redmi Note 7 does at its price point, and as long as you can look past the software with a few minor niggles and the services it tries to push, you'll be happy with your purchase.

Read our full review: Redmi Note 7

Best cheap phone

(Image credit: TechRadar)

6. Moto E6 Plus

Motorola's newest budget smartphone

Weight: 188g | Dimensions: 158.4 x 75.8 x 9.1mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.1-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2280 | CPU: Snapdragon 665 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 16MP + 5MP | Front camera: 25MP

Reliable battery life
Solid design
Only okay camera
Stutters and crashes

The Moto E line of Motorola's smartphones is traditionally its most affordable, and the Moto E6 Plus mixes the most up-to-date tech in 2019, including a 48MP camera joined by two other snappers, with some features of budget phones.

There's a removable battery here too – how often do you see that in a smartphone? 

Of course, it's got all the trappings of a budget phone too, so it's not as snappy or powerful as many higher-end devices, but then you'd expect that if you're paying less than £100 for it.

Read our full review: Moto E6 Plus

Best cheap phone

7. Moto G7 Play

Moto's new entry-level smartphone is a top budget buy

Weight: 149g | Dimensions: 147.3 x 71.5 x 8mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1512 | CPU: Snapdragon 632 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP | Front camera: 8MP

Great battery life
Front-facing speaker
Occasional gaming lag
No NFC for payments

You’re unlikely to find many more compelling phones than the Moto G7 Play at its rock-bottom price. It’s well constructed, slim, has zippy internals, the camera is good when you factor in all the shooting modes and it lasts a full day. 

The lack of NFC is a bit of a disappointment, but if that doesn’t phase you and you’re not put off by the clunky looking notch and practical design, go forth and pick one up, you won’t regret it.

Read our full review: Moto G7 Play

Best budget smartphone

8. Moto G6

This former best cheap phone is still a good buy

Weight: 167g | Dimensions: 153.8 x 72.3 x 8.3mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2160 | CPU: Snapdragon 450 | RAM: 3/4GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 5MP | Front camera: 8MP

Premium design for the price
Bright and clear display
Not waterproof
Slow camera

The Moto G6 is no-longer the best budget smartphone, but it's still a great buy for those looking for value for money.

It may not feel or run like a flagship phone, but it’s not pretending to be one. The Moto G6 offers a lot of solid features, plus extras including some fun camera features, fast charging and it all adds up to make one of the best budget handsets on the market.

Motorola has been a class-leader at the budget end of the mobile for a few years, and the pure Android software and solid build of the Moto G6 ensures you get a top smartphone experience without having to break the bank.

Read our in-depth Moto G6 review

Best cheap phone

(Image credit: Future)

9. Nokia 4.2

The best cheap Nokia phone

Weight: 161g | Dimensions: 149 x 71.3 x 8.4mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 5.71-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1520 | CPU: Snapdragon 439 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP | Front camera: 8MP

Sharp design
Good-looking UI
Sluggish performance
Underwhelming display

Nokia is known as a great budget smartphone manufacturer, but few of its phones actually fall below the £200 threshold we had for this list. The Nokia 4.2 is one such device, and it'll do you well without costing you much.

Sure, its specs are a little on the low side, but that's to be expected in a phone at this price, and there are very few compromises you might notice.

But at its core, the Nokia 4.2 is a standard and conventional Android phone, and at a glance it's not that different from a mid-range or even high-end device with the same design.

Read our full review: Nokia 4.2

Best budget phone

(Image credit: TechRadar)

10. Xiaomi Redmi 7A

Xiaomi's attempt at budget leadership

Weight: 165g | Dimensions: 146.3 x 70.4 x 9.6mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 5.45-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1440 | CPU: Snapdragon 439 | RAM: 2/3GB | Storage: 16/32GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

Great one-handed design
Great battery life
Bloated software
Not enough RAM

Xiaomi has its sights set on the budget smartphone segment, and the Redmi 7A (from its sub-brand Redmi) is one of its most affordable handsets right now.

There's a lot to like in the Redmi 7A, given it's a cheap phone, from the chunky 4,000mAh battery to the small size, which is great for one-handed use.

It's not perfect, and performance-wise you might find it a little slow, but that's okay given the super-low price.

Read our full review: Xiaomi Redmi 7A