The concept of a budget phone in 2019 is almost existential crisis-inducing. The price of phones is rising, but who could have foreseen by how much? We've now hit the £1.5k mark, and 2019’s innovative lines from Samsung and iPhone are likely to increase this price even more.
So for those of us not looking to spend too much money when buying a new device, but also not wanting to settle for sub-standard specifications, we've made a list of the best phones you can buy in 2019 that won't break the bank.
First of All: How Much Is a Budget Phone?
As phones get increasingly more expensive, there seems to be a never-ending argument for how much a budget phone actually costs. We put the question to the people and received a fairly strong indication that most people consider a budget phone to cost under £100.
The age differences however illustrate a slightly different story: the younger you are, the more expensive you consider a "budget" phone to be. For instance, those within the 25-34 age range overwhelmingly consider phones under £400 to be classed as "budget".
However, does this really reflect consumer spending? The average price of the smartphone is getting more expensive and on average people are spending more on their phones than ever before, despite the fact there are more budget phones available in 2019 that can realistically compete with the best phones of the last few years.
What Is the Best Phone up to £100?
We polled 1,000 people and asked the question on Facebook and Twitter, and most people still determine “budget” to be under £100. Here are the best phones we would use if we were on the tightest of budgets.
Compare and Recycle Top Budget Choice
The Nokia 2.1 is rather basic as you might expect, given its £100 price. However, what the Nokia 2.1 does, it does very well. It has a sturdy design, a stripped back near-stock version of Android Oreo and a sleek design that could be confused for a phone 5 times more expensive.
4000mAh battery, 5 inch screen, and a PPI: only a little under what the latest iPhone XR is flaunting. The Nokia 2.1 is as solid of a phone that you can get for under £100 if you still want to retain the look of a more premium phone without compromising on its functionality.
The Alcatel 3V is Alcatel's latest release. It has a massive 6-inch screen with an impressive 412 pixels per inch and 1080p sharp screen, dual cameras and a fingerprint sensor: high end features aplenty. On the other hand, despite the fact that it has Android Oreo, it can feel a bit sluggish from time to time.
The Huawei Y3 will set you back £50, but with that comes everything you need from a budget smartphone. The Quad core processor will get you through all the apps. If the 4-inch screen doesn’t put you off, the Huawei Y3 has a lot going for £50.
What is the Best Phone for around £300?
If you're looking for the next level up in smartphones and don’t have the cash to get the latest iPhone or Samsung, then you can get a lot for around £300. Here are the top three phones you can get for a relatively wallet friendly £300.
Compare and Recycle Top Choice: The Nokia 7 Plus for £279
If we’re talking value for money, then there are some great choices with great designs, brilliant cameras and other great features. The Nokia 7 Plus is topping the list with its purest of pure Android One, which has a great camera (although slightly iffy camera software) and a battery that should last a couple days. It’s everything you could want for under £300.
It may not have the OLED or a particularly great chipset, but the performance, durability, extendable memory, repairability and cost of repairing makes this about as budget as you can get in today's market.
Close 2nd: Xiaomi Pocofone F1 for £279
Our other recommended phone within this price bracket is the Xiaomi Pocofone F1, which could have easily been our number one choice. It's the cheapest mobile with the SnapDragon 845 Processor, usually reserved for premium phones.
The specifications are impressive, with a very decent camera, a lot of availability in the UK and a great design. However, it does come with the slightly less supported MIUI Xiaomi Android skin. If you are a specification hunter, then this is the phone that you should go for.
3rd Choice: Refurbished Samsung Galaxy S8
Now, we know that this is cheating, but picking up a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S8 in excellent condition will set you back between £279 and £350 according to our refurbished phone comparison. The S8 and more specifically the S8+ hold up extremely well to the high quality phones that have been released recently.
We’ve said a lot about why the S8 is a top-quality phone, as the looks, processor, cameras and premium quality of the phone stand out to this day. You could spend your £300 on something a lot worse than a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S8.
Best Mid-Range Phone
A mid-range phone tends to cost around £500 or under. Although these smartphones could be argued to be more expensive compared to the models that we have discussed above, within the context of vastly increased phone prices, £500 is no longer on the pricier end of the spectrum. If your budget for a new device extends this far, then we would recommend that you also take the following devices into consideration, as they are excellent phones which cost half the price their flagship counterparts, or less.
1st Choice: Google Pixel 3a
The 3a is a cheaper alternative to the Google Pixel 3 but offers a lot of the same useful features as its sibling, the Pixel 3, for its price. These include a fantastic camera setup and a Full HD+ and OLED screen. One of the best capabilities of the camera setup includes Night Sight, which is a feature that allows you to take great photos in low-light surroundings. The Google Pixel 3a also has a good battery life, given that it can last for an entire day even while you use battery-draining apps. This is truly one of the best mid-range devices currently on the market. You might even want to consider getting a refurbished Google Pixel 3 if you want a superior model to the 3a, which should still only cost you just under £500 for a phone in pristine condition. The 3a device will cost you £399 on Amazon.
2nd Choice: OnePlus 6
This phone has an aesthetically pleasing all glass design and a large 6.28-inch Full Optic AMOLED panel, which is able to compete even with the displays of much more expensive flagships such as the iPhone X. It also has a dual rear-camera setup, fingerprint and face unlock, plus storage options of up to 256GB. Although OnePlus have since released an incremental upgrade of the OnePlus 6 (the OnePlus 6T), the OnePlus 6 is still a great device and merits consideration for its affordability. Overall, this is a well-rounded smartphone which still feels competitive in 2019, even in comparison to its flagship sibling- the OnePlus 7. This phone will cost you around £500 or less for a refurbished device on Amazon.
So, Which Budget Phone Should I Get?
Unsurprisingly, Nokia tops both categories for budget phone. The brand has made a name for itself after producing some of the best phones of the last decade. Although they don't have the best technology or the best screens, they still have a lot to offer at the budget to mid-range level of mobile phones.
Consumers should ask themselves: is an upgrade even worth it? We would say that this guide is relevant for those who have anything older than an iPhone 6S or are struggling with anything older than the S6. At Compare and Recycle, we recommend keeping a phone for 4 years to minimise the impact of the carbon footprint from mobile phone production.