Best budget smartphone 2018: our top cheap mobiles

Best budget smartphone

If you're in the market for a budget smartphone then you're in luck, as we've got the best low-cost handsets lined up for you right here.

Update: There are new entries in our best budget smartphone list, with new Huawei, Motorola, Alcatel and Honor handsets slipping into the top 10.

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 S9, iPhone XS, Huawei P20 and OnePlus 6T steal headlines around the world, there's a lot of intriguing (and cheap) stuff going on in the world of budget smartphones. Here's a selection of our favourite cheap phones that cost under £200.

  • Not worried about the cost? Check out our best phone list

Best budget smartphone

1. Moto G6

The best budget smartphone you can buy right now

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 the best budget smartphone you can buy right now.

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 an excellent smartphone experience without having to break the bank.

Read our in-depth Moto G6 review

Best budget smartphone

2. Huawei P Smart

A close second in our best cheap phone round-up

Weight: 143g | Dimensions: 150.1 x 72.1 x 7.5mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 5.65-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2160 | CPU: Kirin 659 | RAM: 3/4GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP | Front camera: 8MP

Smart looks at the right price
Background blur for both cameras
Uses micro USB not USB-C
Camera poor at night

Huawei has had an extremely strong 2018 with its flagship handsets making waves at the top end of the market, but it hasn't forgotten about the savvy, price-conscious shoppers.

The Huawei P Smart is a smart choice if you're after an affordable handset with a big 18:9 display, premium design and rear fingerprint scanner

Its camera isn't quite as good as the Moto G6, which sees it slip into second place in our best budget smartphone ranking - but this is still a top cheap phone. 

Read our in-depth Huawei P Smart review

Best budget smartphone

3. Honor 9 Lite

Flagship features at a bargain basement price

Weight: 149g | Dimensions: 151 x 71.9 x 7.6mm | OS: Android 8.0 | Screen size: 5.65-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2160 | CPU: Kirin 659 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP | Front camera: 13MP + 2MP

Premium design
18:9 full HD display
Glass is a fingerprint magnet
Poor low-light camera

The Honor 9 Lite is a bit of a steal. Not only do you get dual rear facing cameras, you also get dual front-facing cameras, along with a design that's taken from the flagship Honor 9.

There's also a fingerprint scanner, decently sized full HD display and the latest version of Android. Its cameras may not be the best in low light, but there's a lot of bang for your buck here.

Read our in-depth Honor 9 Lite review

Best budget smartphone

4. Moto E5 Plus

A big screen, long lasting battery and low price

Weight: 196.6g | Dimensions: 160.9 x 75.3 x 9.4mm | OS: Android 8.0 | Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1440 | CPU: Snapdragon 425 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 5000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

Premium look
A big, big battery
Some slow loading times
Feels cheaper than it looks

The Moto E5 Plus offers up a big screen, long lasting battery and a low price tag, making it an excellent contender for the best budget smartphone on the market.

It just misses out on a top three spot thanks to its slightly weaker performance and lower resolution screen versus - but this is still a top budget buy.

Read the full review: Moto E5 Plus

Best budget smartphone

5. Moto E5

A lot of features for little money

Weight: 174g | Dimensions: 154.4 x 72.2 x 9mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1440 | CPU: Snapdragon 425 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Good endurance
Solid, durable build
Poor camera
Mediocre performance

This svelte budget offering has curves and specifications in all of the right places and offers up a solid user experience.

Issues with performance and a mediocre camera prevent it from being higher in our best budget smartphone ranking, despite the excellent price.

Read our in-depth Moto E5 review

Best budget smartphone

6. Alcatel 5

A champion in its own low-cost niche

Weight: 144g | Dimensions: 152.3 x 71.1 x 8.4mm | OS: Android 7.1 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1440 | CPU: MediaTek MT6750 | RAM: 2/3GB | Storage: 16/32GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 13MP + 5MP

Quality all-round design
Very appealing price point
Camera needs the right conditions
Battery life is poor

Despite a decent screen and solid design, the Alcatel 5 comes across as rather ordinary – until you find out the price. 

It packs in a lot for such a budget phone, but it's also up against some very strong competition.

Read our in-depth Alcatel 5 review

Best budget smartphone

7. Moto G6 Play

A long-lasting battery and decent screen on a tight budget

Weight: 175g | Dimensions: 154.4 x 72.2 x 9mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1440 | CPU: Snapdragon 430 | RAM: 2/3GB | Storage: 16/32GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP

Good battery life
Surprisingly good screen
Camera a touch slow
Mediocre night photos

The Moto G6 Play is the most basic model in the G6 range but still has plenty going for it, including a long-lasting battery and a decent screen. If you're on a tight budget it's easy to recommend.

If you're able to stretch your budget to the Moto G6 you'll get a glass back, sharper screen and better, more versatile camera, but for the more cost conscious the G6 Play does a find job.

Read our in-depth Moto G6 Play review

Best budget smartphone

8. Honor 7X

A mid-range phone with a budget price tag

Weight: 165g | Dimensions: 156.5 x 75.3 x 7.6mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 5.93-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2160 | CPU: Kirin 659 | RAM: 3/4GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 3,340mAh | Rear camera: 16MP + 2MP | Front camera: 8MP

Vibrant 18:9 display
Premium feel metal design
Stuttering performance
No NFC = no Android Pay

The Honor 7X is the first mid-range device to bring an 18:9 ratio display to the market, and that’s impressive considering the price point. 

A few issues with performance, and the absence of NFC, mean it can't get higher than eighth in our ranking.

Read our in-depth Honor 7X review

Best budget smartphone

9. Moto E5 Play

Solid specs considering the price point

Weight: 150g | Dimensions: 151 x 74 x 9mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 5.2-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Snapdragon 425 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 2,800mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

Clean Android experience
Headphone jack
Slow charging
Low base storage

The Moto E5 Play is a true budget phone that won't wow you, but does offer a compelling value thanks to its low price and a strong delivery on all of the smartphone basics. 

We're not in love with anything about it, but any gripes we have are promptly swept away by all the money you'll save buying it.

Read our in-depth Moto E5 Play review

Best budget smartphone

10. Honor 7S

A super low-cost budget smartphone

Weight: 142g | Dimensions: 146.5 x 70.9 x 8.3mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 5.45-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1440 | CPU: MediaTek MT6739 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 3,020mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Big, bright display
Very low price
No fingerprint scanner
Poor performance

With solid build quality and a decent screen, the Honor 7S appears to be a bargain with such a low price point.

However, poor performance and the lack of a fingerprint scanner reveal a budget phone that requires you to accept the compromises.

Read our in-depth Honor 7S review