A few years ago you had to fork out a significant amount to get your hands on a phone with a decent display, good performance and the ability to browse the internet. But the price of smartphones has decreased rapidly in recent times, meaning there are some true bargains to be had.
We’ve picked out the best smartphones that are priced under £100 and then in a separate section those under £200 (SIM-free or on Pay As You Go). You’ll be pretty amazed at what you can get for your money, but if you've got a little more money to spend then jump to the end of the article for some slightly pricier - but still very affordable - options.
All the mobiles listed, from the incredibly affordable Alcatel 1 to the surprisingly accomplished Nokia X10 5G and beyond are available to buy in the UK and we’ll continue to update our list throughout the rest of 2023 and beyond.
Anyway, enough talk and on with our list of the best smartphones available for under £100 and under £200 – along with the cheapest widely available smartphone we can find, and a few other handsets worth considering if you can stretch your budget a little bit further.
The Nokia C21 Plus focuses on some different things to most cheap phones, with security and durability at its heart.
The phone has been tested extensively to stand up to everyday accidents, and it comes with a fingerprint scanner, an AI powered face unlock feature, and the promise of two years of quarterly security updates from launch.
That’s all reassuring, but the Nokia C21 Plus is a solid phone in more conventional ways too, including a promise of 2-3 days of battery life from a single charge, and a clean, slick interface.
With a surprisingly sleek design and a decent 6.52-inch 720 x 1600 screen too there’s a lot to like here. Note however that there’s no NFC, and it charges at a slow 10W.
The Moto E range is Motorola’s cheapest range of smartphones, and these phones are often among the very best that you can find for around £100 or less.
The Moto E7 in particular stands out thanks to its 48MP camera, which is a very high spec at this end of the market. And while it’s not as good as the 48MP cameras found on some pricier phones, it can still take great snaps for the money, even coping reasonably well when the light is low.
There’s a 2MP macro camera too, plus a 4,000mAh battery which Motorola claims will last for up to 36 hours. That’s not quite as long as some phones on this list, but it’s not far off. With a big 6.5-inch 720 x 1600 screen too, there’s a lot to like here for very little money.
Xiaomi is quickly becoming the king of affordable phones, and the Xiaomi Redmi 9AT is one of its cheapest yet, coming in at as little as £90 on Pay As You Go on Three, and similar prices elsewhere.
It also has a big 5,000mAh battery, which delivers excellent life, so this or the Nokia C21 Plus is our pick if you want a long-lasting phone on a very tight budget.
Elsewhere, the Xiaomi Redmi 9AT has a 6.53-inch 720 x 1600 screen with a reading mode, an AI-powered 13MP rear camera, a 5MP selfie camera, a microSD card slot, and a dependable MediaTek Helio G25 chipset.
The specs beyond the battery are fairly basic then, but good enough for lighter users or a secondary phone, and that battery is bigger than the ones in many phones that cost several times more.
The Honor 70 Lite 5G is one of the cheaper worthwhile picks in this price range, yet it still manages to support 5G, so you don’t need to compromise on data speeds.
Plus, the Honor 70 Lite 5G has a sleek design with fairly small bezels for a cheap phone, and its 6.5-inch 720 x 1600 screen has a smooth 90Hz refresh rate.
It also has a triple-lens camera, led by a dependable 50MP main sensor, and there’s a large 5,000mAh battery – though that size is in line with a lot of other affordable phones.
We wouldn’t say this is the most exciting handset, and you can get higher resolution screens for under £200, but it’s a solid all-rounder.
The Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is one of Samsung’s best value phones. It’s not quite the cheapest, but it strikes a great balance, with no major weaknesses.
It has a big 5,000mAh battery, a reasonable Exynos 1330 chipset, a triple-lens camera with a decent 50MP main sensor, and a sizeable 6.6-inch 1080 x 2408 screen, with a 90Hz refresh rate.
It doesn’t especially stand out in any area, but it gets the job done while undercutting much of the competition, so it should serve most budget buyers well.
The Nokia X10 5G edges ahead of most affordable phones with its 6.67-inch 1080 x 2400 screen, which is both big and fairly high resolution.
Beyond that, the Nokia X10 5G also has 5G of course, as you can tell from the name, and there’s a quad-lens camera (with a healthy 48MP main sensor), plus a fairly stylish design, solid performance from its Snapdragon 480 chipset, and slick software.
The battery isn’t as big as some on this list at 4,470mAh, but it charges at a respectable 18W, and the Nokia X10 5G also has splash protection, so it’s at least slightly protected from the elements.
Plus, its microSD card slot means you can build on the built-in storage, so there’s no end to the amount of media you can store on this phone.
With prices fluctuating and varying from store to store, we can’t definitively say that the Alcatel 1 is the cheapest smartphone, but it’s certainly one of the cheapest widely available ones, coming in at as little as £50 on Pay As You Go at the time of writing.
For that, you get a 5.0-inch 480 x 960 screen, a quad-core 1.3GHz chipset, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a microSD card slot, a 2,000mAh battery, a 5MP rear camera, and a 2MP front-facing one.
It’s extremely basic then, but it runs Android, so it’s certainly still a smartphone, and as it runs Android Go its core apps are also small in size and power requirements, so the Alcatel 1 runs better than you might expect.
Having said that, unless you really just want to spend as little money as possible we’d recommend any one of the following phones over this.
There are other great handsets that you can pick up for not much more than £200, so if you can stretch your budget you might want to consider the Honor Magic 5 Lite, which supports 5G, as well as having a 6.67-inch 1080 x 2400 AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a triple-lens camera, all for around £250.
And there’s the Samsung Galaxy A53, which for around £280 gets you 5G, a 5,000mAh battery, a 120Hz FHD+ screen, and a quad-lens camera led by a 64MP main sensor.
Whether you are on a really tight budget or just want to save a bit of money, one of these phones should suit.
The Alcatel 1 is the cheapest widely available smartphone we can find, so if you just want to spend as little as possible, that’s the one to go for.
Then onto our list proper, if you’ve got up to £170 to spend then the Honor 70 Lite 5G is a great value choice with 5G included, but it’s beaten by the all-round dependable Samsung Galaxy A14 5G. Our top choice in this price range though is the Nokia X10 5G, which punches well above its weight.
If you’re on a tighter budget of £100 or less, then it’s worth considering the Nokia C21 Plus, which comes with a long-lasting battery and a durable design. But we’re fonder of the Moto E7, which has a surprisingly good camera for the money. Our top super-cheap choice though is the Xiaomi Redmi 9AT, which has an impressively large battery alongside generally solid (if basic) specs.
But if on the other hand you can stretch your budget a little beyond £200 then it’s also worth taking a look at the Honor Magic 5 Lite or the Samsung Galaxy A53.