Top 10 budget phones
We take a look at the best cheap mobiles available - with Qwerty keyboards, touchscreens, cameras, the lot
While every phone buyer may lust after the latest handsets, it doesn’t mean you can necessarily afford them. However, there’s no need to just make do with a terrible phone that could have conceivably been released four years previously.
We’ve compiled a list of ten phones that are available for under £100 on prepay plans, many significantly under that figure too, for those of you that aren’t looking to spend £25 or more each month on a contract.
There’s a wide variety of feature sets on show too, everything from touchscreen handsets with Qwerty keyboards in tow to more traditional candybar phones with real, clicky buttons. Here’s the run-down of our Top 10.
Touchscreen phonesSamsung Tocco Lite S5320
From £79.99 on Orange/T-Mobile
The Samsung Tocco Lite follows on from the Tocco F480 as one of the most popular cheap touchscreen phones on the market. It’s newer than the two LG phones in our touchscreen favourites here too, although its feature set is fairly similar.
LG Viewty KU990
When the Viewty was originally released, it became well known for its relatively powerful camera. Nowadays, its 5-meapixel offering sounds a trifle aged, but still beats just about anything in this budget list.
Before the LG Viewty KU990 hit the bargain basement, it used to cost a good chunk of cash more than the LG Cookie. However, they can now be had for a fairly similar outlay. You might prefer the Cookie for its friendly looks, but the Viewty wins out on the camera front if you’re planning on using your mobile as an on-the-go snapper.
LG Cookie KP500
The LG Cookie is something of a budget cousin to the Renoir and Pixon. Granted, it lacks several loses several points thanks to its budget feature set, but it remains an attractive handset whose stylish looks belie its low price point.
The Cookie is significantly slimmer than the Viewty too, at 11.9mm depth against the Viewty’s 14.8mm. It may not sound like much in figure form, but those 2.9mm help to make the Cookie seem all the more svelte than its LG buddy.
The Alcatel OT-708 is our brand new ultra-budget favourite. You won’t be able to install mountain-loads of great new apps for it, but the responsive touchscreen, paired with the very low price, impressed us greatly.
For a touchscreen-only device it’s pretty dinky too, with just a 2.4-inch screen. Even so, it’s pretty each to type out text messages using the on-screen virtual keypad. Yep, thanks to the screen’s diminutive size, you only get a virtual numerical keypad rather than a full Qwerty, but we still found it better than some budget button keypads.
Text and email phonesLG KS360
The KS360 has been doing the rounds as a popular budget handset for ages now, but it remains a decent choice because it’s available for so cheap nowadays, considering it has got a full slide-out Qwerty.
Not only that, it’s got a 2.4-inch touchscreen and a set of real buttons on the phone’s fascia. That’s a lot of navigation methods for a phone that’s now available for well under a hundred pounds. You do pay for it elsewhere in the phone’s feature list, with only 2-megapixels on show in the camera.
If you’re not too bothered about that though, the KS360 comes in a few different colours – for those that are fed up with the legions of silver and black handsets that are the staple of the mobile market.
The GW300’s yet to make its big splash, but it takes the concept of the KS360 – bringing the form factor typical of more expensive phones to the budget crowd. Instead of featuring a slide-out Qwerty, the GW300 has a front Qwerty the type you’d normally expect to see on a BlackBerry.
Impressively, it’s a full Qwerty too, not one of those hybrids that shoves two letters onto one key. Like the KS360, it has only got a 2-megapixel camera, but then even far more expensive BlackBerrys have comparable snappers. An additional positive, the GW300 also has a 3.5mm headphone jack and an FM radio built-in, two features we always like to see in a mobile.
Samsung’s answer to the KS360, the B3310, comes in colours even gaudier than its LG rival, but it’s arguably even better equipped on the navigation stakes. Not only has it got a full slide-out Qwerty, a touchscreen and a traditional button D-pad, there’s also a row of number keys alongside the screen.
Yes, it makes the phone look pretty busy and would be an acquired taste even in functionality terms, but there’s no denying it packs a lot in. Elsewhere the feature list is less impressive – 2-megapixel camera and no 3G – but if you’re looking more for the feel of a smartphone rather than its power, the B3310’s not a bad choice.
Traditional phonesSony Ericsson W580i
Unlike Sony Ericsson’s more recent budget entries, the Sony Ericsson W580i features a screen with a half-decent resolution, 240x320 pixels. It may be a bit longer in the tooth than the newer W395 and S312, but it's got a similar feature set and better build quality.
It’s a slider phone, and although it doesn’t have any advanced features – no 3G, a 2-megapixel camera and no 3.5mm jack – we still think it’s a better choice than Sony Ericsson’s newer releases considering the W580i is now available at a similar price.
The Nokia 6300 has slowly been creeping down the price scale over the past two years, and it’s still a pleasantly compact handset with a reassuring sense of quality. It uses Nokia’s S40 v3 operating system. Although it doesn’t offer the level of functionality that the S60 OS boasts, it’s still fine for everyday mobile usage.
If you’re just looking for a simple, slim and attractive handset to primarily use as a call and text machine, the Nokia 6300 is one of the best phones on this list.
When it was first released back in 2007, the Samsung U600 was a pretty expensive phone. Now, you can get hold of it for next to nothing. A follow-up to the D900, the U600 became very popular thanks to its ultra-slim body and rather slick looks.
It also pips the other traditional button-operated phones to the finish line on the camera front too, with a 3.2-megapixel sensor where the other two only have two megapixels to their name, and autofocus. If you’re looking to indulge in a spot of mobile gaming, the Nokia and Sony Ericsson are still better options, but the U600 is a cool customer.
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