The best smartphones available to buy for under £250.
The budget smartphone market has really come into its own over the last couple of years, with numerous devices appearing with price tags under £250 and an aim to offer you a good enough smartphone experience that you don’t need to splash half a grand on a flagship device.
They might not have the sharpest displays, or beautiful metal designs, but a budget smartphone can still be good looking, offer decent specs, a good battery life and a solid performance, while saving your pennies at the same time.
Whether you are after an impulse replacement or you just can’t bear the thought of spending the best part of £500 or more on a device that lets you ring people among a few other things, here are the best budget phones available to buy today for under £250.
10. Microsoft Lumia 435 £49.99
The Microsoft Lumia 435 is the best phone you can buy under £50, even accepting the tired old Windows Phone apps argument.
Bottom of Microsoft’s line-up and just £49.99 on PAYG it’s by no means a great phone, but for first-time or light users it wipes the floor with similarly priced Android phones (and iOS at this price point is just a pipe dream – or a nightmare, but whichever way you look at it, it’s not going to happen).
Unlike the more expensive Lumia 535, Microsoft has confirmed that the Lumia 435 will get Windows 10 when it is released later this year, which will make this the cheapest entry point for a Windows 10 computer, and that alone makes it well worth a look.
Buy the Nokia Lumia 453 if you’re after a cheap first-time device.
9. Asus ZenFone 4 £99.99
For £99, we’re impressed by the ZenFone 4. It’s nicely designed, has brilliant software features, is suitably speedy and has decent battery life, but it’s not outstanding. We’d like to see a slightly better camera and the addition of 4G connectivity.
We’d suggest checking out the EE Kestrel and the Motorola Moto G 2014 as alternatives to the ZenFone 4, but it’s certainly a worthy contender and we think you’ll be satisfied if you decide to go with this good budget smartphone.
Buy the Asus ZenFone 4 if you want a small device with a multitude of features for under £100.
8. Nokia Lumia 1320 £180
The Nokia Lumia 1320 started off above the £300 mark when it first launched but it has since seen a price drop to make it a worthy contender in the under £250 budget smartphone category.
For the Windows Phone lover, the Lumia 1320 has it all. There is a large 6-inch display, 4G connectivity, a decent build and a great battery life, along with a good suite of apps. The screen resolution may be low for the size at 1280 x 720 pixels and the camera isn’t Nokia’s best, but you get a lot for you money with this device.
The Lumia 1320 sits in phablet territory so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea if you aren’t after a large phone, but as a value prospect, it’s a great device that delivers in many areas including design, battery and power.
Buy the Nokia Lumia 1320 if you want Windows Phone on a big screen at a low price.
7. Nokia Lumia 735 £155
The Nokia Lumia 735 was the last device to carry the Nokia name and it was pitched as the “selfie phone” when it was announced during tradeshow IFA back in September, but getting a good new profile picture isn’t the only thing this device is useful for.
Offering a nice, solid build, the Lumia 735 also features a lovely OLED display, a strong performing battery that can also be replaced and its rear camera is great with a good front camera too.
Its performance isn’t always flawless, but the Lumia 735 offers a decent size and build, with enough power to hit all the spec essentials. It might not quite elevate itself to excellence, but it’s certainly a good mid-range Windows Phone at an attractive price.
Buy this phone if you want a good Windows Phone at a good price.
6. Asus Zenfone 5 £150/£180
The Zenfone 5 is one of three in Asus’s range of budget devices that aim to bridge the gap between entry-level Android phones and top-level flagship smartphones.
It offers a 5-inch screen, with 4-inch and 6-inch models also available, and it has a neat, premium-looking design, despite plastic featuring as the main material. The Zenfone 5 is subtle so you won’t be ashamed to take it out of your pocket and although the battery life isn’t brilliant and the screen isn’t particularly bright, overall it’s a good, capable device. There is also a 4G version if you want to add speedy connection to the list of attributes.
The Asus Zenfone 5 offers much of the experience of a phone that, until recently, would have cost twice the price. As a first stab at making a mainstream phone, the Asus Zenfone 5 is a fine effort and one that is a great value prospect.
Buy the Asus Zenfone 5 if you want a good looking, capable phone for £150, or a 4G version for £180.
5. EE Kestrel £99.99
The EE Kestrel offers super fast 4G technology for those on a budget and while it may not feel all that premium in terms of build thanks to its plasticky finish, its £99 asking price is worthy of a salute for driving down the cost and expectation of 4G.
The screen resolution is low and although there is microSD storage expansion for your photos and videos, the EE Kestrel only has an 8GB internal memory for all your apps so the specs are pretty average. That said, the IPS display provides great viewing angles and good screen brightness, while the Qualcomm Snapdragon S400 chip ensures everything runs smoothly.
It has some stiff competition in this arena, but the EE Kestrel is plastic and fantastic. It is a no brainer for those who want 4G connectivity but don’t want to spend a fortune to get it.
Buy the EE Kestrel if you want a 4G smartphone on a budget.
4. Moto G (2015) £159.99
The Motorola Moto G (2015) model succeeds the Moto G (2014) that launched last year but rather than opt for a design refresh like the 2014 did over the original MotoG, it only adds 4G connectivity to the mix for a £10 bump in price, making the 2014 model pretty much redundant. It carries a few of the same design features as the 2013 model, but like last year’s device, it opts for a larger display, improved camera and a chunkier build.
The design isn’t as nice as the original, although it is still a good looking device, and the sound isn’t as impressive, but with the added 4G capability, you still get a lot of bang for your buck, even if the buck is now the other side of the £150 mark.
We didn’t love the 2015 model as much as the first Moto G, but just like the first, you don’t compromise on quality or experience and when you’re paying just £160 for a smartphone that can do near enough everything a phone four times the price can, it’s difficult to complain.
Buy this phone if you want a large display and you don’t want to compromise.
3. OnePlus One £230
The OnePlus One sits at the higher end of the budget market, but for its £230 price tag, you get a lovely 5.5-inch display, huge amounts of power and a great battery life. It offers a similar experience to the high-end smartphones but it does it without leaving your bank account high and dry.
It may be a little large for some, but for those that are interested in the phablet territory on a budget, the OnePlus One is excellent value. It leaves out a couple of features such as microSD support for storage expansion and 4G won’t work on all UK networks, plus it is a pain to buy as you need an invite, but aside from that, it has a solid build and great performance.
Overall, the OnePlus One is an amazing device for its price and if you don’t mind stepping away from traditional Android into an operating system called CyanogenMod that is based on it instead, then it’s a device that won’t disappoint. If the One retailed for £450 with a more recognisable brand name stamped onto its rear, it would be snapped up from the shelves.
Buy the OnePlus One if you want a high-end experience without the cost.
2. Moto G 4G £135
Motorola’s original Moto G shook the budget smartphones world up completely when it was announced in November 2013, bringing a 4.3-inch display, decent specs, a lovely design and a good battery life for just £135.
It was the phone that made every other manufacturer work harder to produce better budget devices for less money and while the original didn’t have 4G or microSD support, Motorola introduced a second edition six months later with both these on board for just £15 more, cementing its position as the king of the budget smartphones.
Despite having been succeeded twice since, once in 2014 with a larger 5-inch MotoG and again more recently with the a 4G version of the larger 2014 model, we still believe the 4G version of the original is the best looking of the Moto G models. It has a fantastic design, beautiful display, great performance and good camera capabilities for a brilliant price.
Buy this phone if you want a budget smartphone without compromising on anything.
1. Motorola Moto E (2015) £109.99
The original Moto E was Motorola’s play for the even more budget section of the market that its Moto G was too expensive to reach and while it was less spec-savvy, it put on a darn good show for its £89 price tag. That model has since been replaced with the 2015 version and it’s not only better looking, but it’s a better performer too.
A great design, good display and excellent battery life are all on board the Moto E (2015), along with great sound from the front-facing speakers and microSD support for expanding the internal storage. The new model adds a front-facing camera and a smoother Android experience, as well as the option to add colour from the interchangeable Bands. You don’t get brilliant shots from either the front or rear cameras, but overall, it’s a brilliant device for the slightly increased £109 price.
Despite its low price point, the Moto E has glimpses of premium about its slightly bulky build, which when you add useful software features, a true Android experience, solid battery life and quality sound output, you’re faced with an undeniably decent device that earns its title as the budget device to beat.
Buy the Motorola Moto E if you want a great device for a little over £100.
NB : Prices are subject to change. Check Vodafone UK for the best contract / PAYG deals.