6 best budget smartphones under £300

Keen to save on your next handset? Find out which are the best budget smartphones of 2018 - and where to find the best deals

The best budget smartphones will give you an eye-friendly display, speedy processor, decent camera and battery that won’t die on you – all for under £300 (or even much less).

Yes, swanky flagship phones from Apple and Samsung look amazing, but you no longer need to spend top dollar to get a premium build from a reliable brand anymore.

The world’s leading phone manufacturers have all released low price but high quality editions, plus there are some diamonds out there you may not yet have discovered that have glowing customer user ratings and ultra-affordable deals right now.

We’ve tracked down for our readers the best budget smartphones under £300 in the UK in 2018: which ones look and feel like the latest iPhone, which ones have an all-day (even a two-day) battery, and which ones simply have it all (minus the heart-stopping price tag).

This best budget smartphone review will fill you in on everything you need to know to help you walk away happy – and link you to the cheapest pay monthly and SIM free phone deals available today.


Best budget smartphones: Need to know

In this comparison review of the best budget smartphones under £300 we cover:

01 | How to choose the best budget smartphone
02 | Should I buy a refurbished phone?
03 | What are the best alternatives to Apple and Samsung?
04 | The full list of the best budget smartphones in 2018
05 | Final verdict and link to best deals



How to choose the best budget smartphone under £300

Smartphone technology has come a long way in recent years, and mobile phones are now cheaper and better than ever before. But how do you choose the best budget smartphone for you?

Here are the best three questions to ask yourself to help you narrow your choice:

  1. Which operating system is for me? – Apple and Android are both popular choices – perhaps you already have a preference or are keen to branch out with your next phone.
  2. What size screen would work best? – Our best budget smartphones range from four to nearly six inches – smaller phones tend to be easier to hold, but big screens are great for watching films.
  3. How much am I comfortable spending? – Only you can decide that, but you can feel good knowing that whatever you spend with one of our six best cheap smartphones will guarantee good value for money.

Once you have a better idea of the kind of smartphone you’re after, have a look at the specs (processor, battery and camera) of our six best budget smartphones under £300 below to help you make the call.


What to look for in a smartphone under £300

You can spend anything from £20 to an eye-watering £1,000 on a mobile phone these days. But what can you expect from a smartphone under £300?

The best budget smartphones will have a decent screen, good camera and sturdy battery. Many phone manufacturers like to cut costs on the materials, so you’d get a plastic finish rather than a sleek metal casing.

But not all cheap phones feel cheap – in fact, most our best buys below combine top specs with a body you could mistake for a flagship phone model.


Can I still get a great smartphone for under £200?

In general, you’ll want to spend at least £100 on a smartphone to avoid a dud. But here we’ll help you find one of the best cheap smartphones for under £200 (the Nokia 5 is only £150 new).

We’ve even found some pay monthly deals with leading UK phone networks like EE and O2 for under £15 a month (with the phone completely free).

Phones in the £100 to £200 will be up to most everyday tasks like web browsing, watching videos and messaging, but will likely start to creak with the most demanding games or if you try to run a million programmes at once.

The good news is there are some great value smartphones out there even for under £200 new, and our review below will help you get the most for your money, whatever you’d like to spend.



Should I buy a refurbished phone?

You can often save a few bob on a refurbished phone. The only problem is they’re usually faulty phones that have been repaired – this means they will be less reliable than buying a new smartphone fresh out of its box.

You may also miss out on accessories like the charger or headphones, so the saving may also not be quite as big as you imagined.

If you’re seriously cash-strapped, you might still want to consider a refurbished phone from a trusted supplier like Amazon or the Carphone Warehouse, but if you can, your phone is more likely to last if you buy it new.



What are the best alternatives to Apple and Samsung?

Apple and Samsung have both released high-spec, low-cost handsets that made our list of the best budget smartphones.

But if you want a quality model that’s an absolute steal, popular Chinese phone brands like Huawei and tech classics like Nokia are another great option.

As a rule of thumb, Apple and Samsung smartphones tend to offer the best specs (and now have great budget handsets), but at the lower price range, you’ll often get better value for money with a brand like Motorola, Huawei or Nokia.



Best budget smartphones under £300

(1/6)
Best budget Android phone: Motorola Moto G6 Play

motorola moto g6 play

★★★★ 6 customer user reviews on Carphone Warehouse

OS Android 8.0 | Screen 5.7″ | Storage 32 GB | Camera 13 Mp

PROS – Amazing value, superb battery, great display

CONS – No headphones, hard-core users may want more power

The Motorola Moto G6 Play is one of the best value smartphones that exists right now, hands down. This model is cheaper than the acclaimed Moto G6 – but it’s battery is 50% bigger.

This smartphone feels much more expensive than it is and (despite only having an HD display), the 720 x 1440p resolution makes for a sharp screen. Professional photographers may need to look on, but the 13Mp lens with an f/2.0 aperture takes some surprisingly detailed shots.

Plus, the Moto G6 Play has plenty of extras you’d never expect for such a cheap smartphone – a 27-hour call time battery, 32 GB storage, even a fingerprint scanner.

Read our full Motorola Moto G6 Play review here.


Best Moto G6 Play SIM only deals

RRP £179.99

£149.99 Unlocked phone Very
£159.99 Unlocked phone Amazon


Best Motorola Moto G6 Play pay monthly deals

From £12.50 /mth Free phone Fonehouse
From £14.50 /mth Free phone Fonehouse


(2/6)
Best budget Samsung smartphone: Samsung Galaxy J3

samsung galaxy j3 phone

★★★★ 15 customer user reviews on Carphone Warehouse

OS Android 7.0 | Screen 5″ | Storage 16 GB | Camera 13 Mp

PROS – Stellar battery life, impressive display, decent photos, NFC

CONS – Slow charge, processor will struggle with heavy gaming

You won’t find too many Samsung Galaxy models on lists of best budget smartphones, but the Galaxy J3 is a prime example of top-notch Samsung engineering on a shoestring.

The battery is excellent – 11.5 hours. And the five-inch touchscreen is clear to read from. The front and rear cameras are also great quality for such a small price tag.

If you want a reliable phone brand without breaking the bank, the Samsung Galaxy J3 is one of the best-selling budget smartphones today.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy J3 review here.


Best Samsung Galaxy J3 SIM only deals

RRP £190

£128 Unlocked phone Appliances Direct
£129 Unlocked phone AO.com


Best Samsung Galaxy J3 pay monthly deals

From £11.00 /mth Free phone affordablemobiles.co.uk
From £12.99 /mth Free phone Carphone Warehouse


(3/6)
Best budget iPhone – iPhone SE

iphone_se

★★★★ 29 customer user reviews on Carphone Warehouse

OS iOS 11.0.3 | Screen 4″ | Storage 32 GB | Camera 12 Mp

PROS – Best value iPhone, speedy processor, slick design, great camera

CONS – Average battery life, screen may be too small for some

The iPhone SE is still a hit as the cheapest iPhone ever made. It’s got the quality build and fast A9 processor you’d expect from an iPhone, all packed into a smaller 4-inch frame.

With a fingerprint reader, 32 GB storage, a pin-sharp screen and a decent 12 Mp camera, the iPhone SE certainly doesn’t feel cheap. You’d just need to splash out if you want more than seven to 12 hours’ battery life.

If you’re on a budget, but still want a handset you’d feel proud to whip out, this one’s for you.

Read our full iPhone SE review here.


Best iPhone SE SIM only deals

RRP £379

£222.99 Unlocked phone TobyDeals UK
£222.99 Unlocked phone eGlobal Central UK


Best iPhone SE pay monthly deals

From £10.73 /mth £34.90 phone affordablemobiles.co.uk
From £12.99 /mth £29.99 phone Carphone Warehouse


(4/6)
Best budget Chinese smartphone: Huawei P Smart

huawei_p_smart_phone

★★★★ 151 customer user reviews on Carphone Warehouse

OS Android 8.0 | Screen 5.7″ | Storage 32 GB | Camera 13 Mp

PROS – Feels premium quality, great screen size, top value for money

CONS – Battery life could be longer

The Huawei P Smart is one of the best value smartphones from the Chinese tech giant – you get an impressive phone size, dual rear cameras and a fingerprint scanner to help you get safe and speedy access to your phone.

This phone ticks all the boxes – it’s got a fast Kirin octa-core processor, almost-edge-to-edge 1080p display, stunning cameras and generous 32 GB storage space (which you can even boost with a micro SD card slot).

Even the battery life (our one complaint) is perfectly fine – and at over 17 hours’ of call time and nine hours’ normal use, it beats most iPhones.

Read our full Huawei P Smart review here.


Best Huawei P Smart SIM only deals

RRP £259

£169 Unlocked phone Carphone Warehouse
£175 Unlocked phone Amazon


Best Huawei P Smart pay monthly deals

From £14 /mth Free phone affordablemobiles.co.uk
From £18 /mth Free phone Carphone Warehouse


(5/6)
Best smartphone under £200: Huawei Honor 9 Lite

honor_9_lite

★★★★ 19 customer user reviews on Carphone Warehouse

OS Android 8.0 | Screen 5.7″ | Storage 32 GB | Camera 13 Mp

PROS – Quality design, sharp display, top-notch features

CONS – So-so battery, may feel large for some

Honor is a brand of Huawei that’s known for making mobile phones with the wow factor – and as a features-rich, budget smartphone, the Honor 9 Lite is a great addition to the range.

You won’t find too many phones out there with dual rear and front cameras, full stop. And you even get a Full HD edge-to-edge 5.7″ display, the latest version of Android and a fingerprint scanner thrown into the bargain.

Most phones this size are kinder on the eye, but tough on battery life. The Honor 9 Lite has a respectable battery at around 10 hours of heavy use or over 20 on the phone and it’s easy to spend much more and not get any more juice.

Read our full Honor 9 Lite review here.


Best Honor 9 Lite SIM only deals

RRP £200

£149 Unlocked phone Currys
£149 Unlocked phone Carphone Warehouse


Best Honor 9 Lite pay monthly deals

From £12.99 /mth Free phone ID Mobile
From £12.99 /mth Free phone Carphone Warehouse


(6/6)
Best smartphone under £150: Nokia 5

nokia_5

★★★★ 15 customer user reviews on Carphone Warehouse

OS Android 7.1.1 | Screen 5.2″ | Storage 16 GB | Camera 13 Mp

PROS – Light and nifty, decent display, stunning camera, great battery life, NFC

CONS – Not the latest processor, average sound

For such a tiny price tag, the Nokia 5 really is an incredible smartphone. It performs where most budget smartphones fall down (display, camera, even battery).

16 GB of storage might not seem much, but you can always bump it up with a micro SD card. Other than that, this phone is fast, takes sharp photos and lasts (most) the day.

If you’re a phone addict, you may want to splash out more than £150, but if you’re big on value for money, we don’t think you can do much better than the Nokia 5.

Read our full Nokia 5 review here.

Best Nokia 5 SIM only deals

RRP £179.99

£108.99 Unlocked phone ebay
£119.95 Unlocked phone Argos


Best Nokia 5 pay monthly deal

The Nokia 5 is exclusive to the iD Mobile network, for just £9.99 a month.

From £9.99 /mth Free phone iD Mobile



Best budget smartphones: Final verdict

Here are the best budget smartphones under £300 – and where you can find the best deals today:

Motorola Moto G6 Play Best budget Android RRP £180 Compare deals
Samsung Galaxy J3 Best budget Samsung RRP £190 Compare deals
Apple iPhone SE Best budget iPhone RRP £379 Compare deals
Huawei P Smart Best budget Chinese phone RRP £259 Compare deals
Huawei Honor 9 Lite Best budget phone under £200 RRP £159 Compare deals
Nokia 5 Best budget phone under £150 RRP £150 Compare deals