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Best budget smartphone to buy in 2021

Compare the best budget smartphones that can be found for less than £300.

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Best budget smartphone to buy in 2021

Best budget smartphones

With the best smartphones costing upwards of £1,000, looking for a cheap handset that still allows you to get online, take quality photos and store tons of data can feel like an arduous task. Luckily, you don't have to break the bank to get your hands on some of the latest tech.

Most mobile manufacturers have a range of budget-friendly options to go alongside their flagship handsets, and there is in fact a huge number of dependable smartphones that you can snap up for less than £300, if you know where to look.

You may have to sacrifice a few features that the top models can brag about, but by going for one of the smartphones listed on this page you'll be getting the next best thing. Let's take a look at the top 10 budget smartphones to buy in 2021.

Apple iPhone 8

  • Screen size: 4.7-inch
  • CPU: Apple A11 Bionic
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB
  • Battery life: 1821mAh
  • Rear camera: 12MP
  • Front camera: 7MP

If you’re a loyal Apple customer but don’t want to fork out vast sums on the latest iPhone models, you should consider the iPhone 8 as a viable alternative. It was released back in 2017, which in smartphone terms is ancient, but it’s currently the most up-to-date iPhone you can snap up for less than £300.

Unlike some even older iPhone models, the iPhone 8 supports Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 14. This means you’ll be able to do most of what you can do on the iPhone 12, albeit less smoothly.

And with a relatively small, but still crisp, 4.7in display, the iPhone 8 will fit more snugly in your pocket than most other chunky smartphones on the market these days.

Pros:

  • Much cheaper than current iPhones
  • Compatible with iOS 14
  • Capable of wireless charging

Cons:

  • Outdated design
  • No Face ID
  • Poor battery life

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Samsung Galaxy A21s

  • Screen size: 6.5-inch
  • CPU: Exynos 850
  • RAM: 2GB/6GB
  • Storage: 32GB/64GB/128GB
  • Battery life: 5000mAh
  • Rear camera: 48MP+8MP+2MP+2MP
  • Front camera: 13MP

Samsung may be best known for its flagship Galaxy S range, with some of its high-end models costing over £1,000 a pop, but luckily the UK’s second favourite mobile manufacturer has a solid range of budget smartphones for those not willing to break the bank for a new device.

The Galaxy A21s, released in May 2020, can be snapped up for under £150. And for that very reasonable price, you’ll get a good-looking handset with an impressive battery life, a 6-5inch display and four rear cameras including a 48MP lens.

Pros:

  • Impressive battery life
  • Large and clear display
  • Great value for money

Cons:

  • Poor performance compared to other Samsung smartphones
  • Camera lacks certain features
  • No fast charging

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Huawei P Smart 2021

  • Screen size: 6.67-inch
  • CPU: Kirin 710A
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Battery life: 5000mAh
  • Rear camera: 48MP+8MP+2MP+2MP
  • Front camera: 8MP

Huawei, China’s biggest mobile manufacturer, first released its P Smart series in 2018 as a range of budget smartphones to go alongside its more premium models. The Huawei P Smart 2021 version was released at the end of 2020, costing just £159.99.

It has an impressive battery life for such an affordable phone, lasting a good 24 hours and more on full charge. It also includes a 48MP rear camera for snaps that can be viewed on its bright and vibrant 6.67-inch display.

One thing the P Smart 2021 does lack is the inability to run Google services such as Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube, although this is currently the case for all Huawei smartphones.

Pros:

  • Good camera for the price
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Fast charging available

Cons:

  • Not compatible with Google services
  • Display could be improved
  • Poor video recording

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Google Pixel 4A

  • Screen size: 5.81-inch
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Battery life: 3140mAh
  • Rear camera: 12MP
  • Front camera: 8MP

With an RRP of £349, the Google Pixel 4A isn’t exactly the cheapest smartphone around, but it can be found in some retailers for just £299. And at that price, you’d be hard pushed to find a better performing phone.

With impressive cameras both on the front and the back, and a vibrant display, the Pixel 4A truly is a good looking phone, and it’s performance will more than match phones at a similar price point.

Pros:

  • Crisp and colourful display
  • Fast and smooth performance
  • Still includes headphone jack

Cons:

  • Battery life could be improved
  • Just one rear camera
  • No wireless charging

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Nokia 1.3

  • Screen size: 5.71-inch
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 215
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Storage: 16GB
  • Battery life: 3000mAh
  • Rear camera: 8MP
  • Front camera: 5MP

Still best known for producing classics such as the Nokia 3210 in the pre-smartphone era, Nokia has released a number of exceptionally cheap smartphones in recent years. The Nokia 1.3 is no exception, being sold for as little as £80 at certain retailers.

It does have its limitations, admittedly, coming with just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, but you’ll struggle to find much better in any other model for less than £100. But despite it’s cheap-as-chips price, it’s battery life is more than a match for most iPhones.

If you do want something a bit more powerful and are willing to spend up to £200, the Nokia 5.4 may be of more interest to you. But if you’re looking for one the cheapest, budget smartphones currently on the market, look no further than the Nokia 1.3.

Pros:

  • Costs less than £100
  • Compact and durable design
  • Vibrant display

Cons:

  • Slower than other smartphones
  • Batter life could be improved
  • Limited RAM and storage

See all Nokia deals

Honor 20e

  • Screen size: 6.21-inch
  • CPU: Kirin 710F
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Battery life: 3400mAh
  • Rear camera: 24MP+8MP+2MP
  • Front camera: 8MP

A lesser-known Chinese manufacturer, Honor used to be a budget spin-off of Huawei, but has since become an independent company specialising in cheap, no-frills smartphones. While the cheapest Honor models can be found for less than £100, the Honor 20e is slightly more expensive at just under £160, but is still great value for money.

With an extremely fast processor, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and a vibrant 6.21-inch display, the Honor 20e punches well above its weight compared to other models at this price point. In fact, the Honor 20e is an all-round great Android phone. And unlike previous Honor models, the 20e comes with Google Mobile Services, which means it’s pre-installed with Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, and more.

Pros:

  • Great triple rear camera
  • Long battery life
  • Compatible with GMS

Cons:

  • No fast charging capability
  • Plastic design
  • Internal storage could be improved

Oppo A9 2020

  • Screen size: 6.5-inch
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 665
  • RAM: 4GB/8GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Battery life: 5000mAh
  • Rear camera: 48MP+8MP+2MP+2MP
  • Front camera: 16MP

Yet another lesser-known manufacturer challenging the more established players, the Oppo A9 2020 far outperforms its expectations considering it’s £285 price tag. With a massive battery life of 5,000mAh, it can outlast even some of the most expensive smartphones on the market.

It’s main rear camera is also an impressive 48MP, which isn’t too shabby at all for a model considered ‘budget’. And with a 6.5-inch display and stunning design, the Oppo A9 2020 looks, feels and performs like a more serious, high-end smartphone.

Pros:

  • Sleek, modern design
  • Decent cameras for the price
  • Impressive battery life

Cons:

  • Display clarity could be improved
  • Relatively slow performance

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Moto G 5G Plus

  • Screen size: 6.7-inch
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765
  • RAM: 4GB/8GB
  • Storage: 64GB/128GB
  • Battery life: 5000mAh
  • Rear camera: 48MP+8MP+5MP+2MP
  • Front camera: 16MP+8MP

If you’re excited by the rollout of 5G and want to get your hands on the latest technology without breaking the bank, consider the Moto G5 Plus. This model is one of the cheapest 5G-capable smartphones currently on the market, and in fact it was the first ever to be sold for under £300 in the UK.

On top of its 5G capabilities, the Moto G 5G Plus is an all-round good handset, with a fast processor, bright and vibrant screen, and an impressive battery life. It also has a 48MP camera on the back, allowing for crisp photos that you may be surprised could come from such a cheap phone. However, it’s 6.7-inch screen means it’s slightly on the bulkier side.

Pros:

  • Impressive batter life
  • Durable design
  • Supports 5G

Cons:

  • Quite bulky
  • Poor camera performance in low light
  • Overall performance could be improved

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

  • Screen size: 6.67-inch
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 732
  • RAM: 6GB/8GB
  • Storage: 64GB/128GB
  • Battery life: 5020mAh
  • Rear camera: 108MP+8MP+5MP+2MP
  • Front camera: 16MP

At £249, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro is on the pricier end of the spectrum when it comes to budget smartphones, but you’re unlikely to find a better device for less than £300. Considering it comes with a 120Hz AMOLED display, a 108MP rear camera and an incredibly long battery life capable of lasting over 24 hours, this handset wouldn’t look out of place if it was on sale for three times the price.

This isn’t the only impressive Xiaomi phone you can find on a budget, however, as the firm specialises in producing affordable, but reliable, handsets. Another option could be the Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC, which has an ever longer battery life than the Redmi Note 10 Pro - lasting up to 2 days on full charge!

Pros:

  • Outstanding design
  • Impressive battery life with fast charging
  • Quality audio speakers

Cons:

  • Poor camera performance in low light
  • Doesn’t support 5G
  • Video recording is poor

OnePlus Nord

  • Screen size: 6.44-inch
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765
  • RAM: 6GB/12GB
  • Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB
  • Battery life: 4115mAh
  • Rear camera: 48MP+8MP+5MP+2MP
  • Front camera: 32MP+8MP

OnePlus is another Chinese manufacturer making waves in the UK smartphone market, and the OnePlus Nord may just be its best budget to mid-range phone yet. It can be snapped up for just under £300 at certain retailers, so it’s just about within range to be classed as a ‘budget’ handset.

But with a rapid Snapdragon 765G processor, a minimum of 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, it’s performance is much better than what you’d expect in other budget phones. It’s 6.44-inch display is also stunning, and it’s 5G-capablities make it a future-proof model as well.

Pros:

  • Good overall performance
  • Stunning design for the price
  • Decent battery life

Cons:

  • Limited availability
  • Slightly expensive for a budget phone
  • No wireless charging

Last reviewed: 16 October 2021

Next review: 16 November 2021