If you’re in the market for a cheap mobile phone, but you don’t want to scrimp on quality, here are six amazing cheap phone options for 2021…
Cheap mobile phones don’t have to suck, though most of them do. If you go the Chinese phone brand route, you will get plenty of bang for your buck. Xiaomi phones are an obvious example. But there are caveats that you need to keep in mind…
If something goes wrong with your Xiaomi phone, you’re pretty much stuck – Xiaomi’s UK customer support is essentially none existent. And then there’s the software: it’s definitely not to everyone’s tastes. And with Android updates, nothing is guaranteed.
For this reason, if you’re looking for the best possible cheap mobile phone, I would always advise that you stick to established phone brands – Apple, Google, and Samsung. Sticking with established, trusted phone brands means you get great software support, excellent customer service, and the best possible tech for your money.
How We Chose Our Picks For The Best Cheap Mobile Phones
- Value For Money: The phone HAS to deliver plenty of value for money, meaning great performance, excellent software, brilliant camera performance, and great battery life. Only when these factors are met do we recommend a phone.
- Software Support: Android and iOS updates keep your phone up to date, safe, and protected from viruses and hackers. For this reason, it is super important to have your phone running on the latest software. This is why all our recommended mobile phone options below are there; they’re all brilliant with respect to software support.
- Camera Tech: Cameras are important, even on cheaper mobile phones. Thankfully, since camera tech has come such a long way in a short space of time, you no longer have to pay top dollar for a decent camera phone. You can now get cheap mobile phones with awesome cameras.
- Battery Life: Simple, but totally necessary. What’s the point of having a phone if it doesn’t have good battery life? Good battery life is essential. You need it. And the more battery life you have the better.
Best Cheap Mobile Phones: Our #1 Picks
Right now, the following mobile phones are our #1 picks for anybody that is looking for the best possible “cheap” mobile phone. All of the phones listed below are great options, though some are better than others in certain respects as you see below once we go into more detail.
1 – Pixel 4a
If you want 5G performance, an OLED display, and one of the best cameras in the business, then Google’s Pixel 4a – or the Pixel 4a 5G – is arguably the best option on the market right now.
The design is smart and slick, it runs a very capable processor (the 765G), so it will handle most things you can throw at it, and its camera is utterly superb, completely in a league of its own at this price point.
You also get stock Android as well as iPhone-grade software support from Google. As soon as a new Android update drops, you’ll get it. No more waiting around for months. I used this phone for six months straight and it was utterly fantastic.
The only reason I switched was because I got the Pixel 5.
2 – RealMe 7
RealMe is a relatively new brand in the phone market. But do not be put off by this – RealMe makes some truly outstanding Android phones. And the RealMe 7 is a fine example of this.
The RealMe 7 is priced like an ultra-budget phone but it runs the kind of specs you’d find inside a $800 Samsung phone. You have 6GB of RAM, a 90Hz display, a 5000mAh battery, and a stunning 48MP main camera leading its quad-lens camera module on the rear.
If you want truly ground-breaking value for money, killer design, and flawless performance, the RealMe 7 is essentially unbeatable right now.
3 – Samsung Galaxy A71
The Samsung Galaxy A71 is a brilliant mid-range phone. It is a little more expensive than the RealMe 7, but that’s just because it is a Samsung phone, so you’re paying a brand tax.
The Galaxy A71 isn’t quite as good as the Galaxy S21, but it isn’t that far off it either. You have a 6.7in Super AMOLED display, a 4500mAh battery, microSD support, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.
You also get 25W fast charging abilities, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 730 CPU, and Android 10 out of the box. Add in a very solid quad-lens camera fronted by a 64MP sensor and you’re looking at one of the best phones – at any price point – on the market right now.
4 – The Google Pixel 3a
I own this phone. I use it every day. The Google Pixel 3 was a great phone, but its cheaper stablemate, the Pixel 3a, is utterly brilliant. It’s compact and lightweight and it has an OLED display and it is also rocking one of the best cameras in the business. And for the asking price (less than £300), it is more or less unbeatable in 2020’s budget mobile phone market.
Made by Google, the Pixel 3a will get three years worth of Android updates guaranteed, meaning should you buy this phone today, you’ll still be getting Android updates in 2023. The camera is stunning; it’s better than the iPhone 11’s. And you have killer battery life.
Add in beautiful software, a gorgeous, simple-to-use UX, and its pocketable size and you’re looking at what is probably the best value mobile phone on the planet right now. If you like Android, this is the phone to get. I positively love mine.
5 – Apple iPhone SE 2020 (Best Cheap iPhone)
If you want to go the iPhone route, the iPhone SE 2020 is basically Apple’s answer to the Google Pixel 3a. Based on the iPhone 8, the iPhone SE 2020 is a small, compact iPhone that features a 4.7in LCD display, Apple’s TouchID home button, and a 12MP single-lens camera.
Inside you have the same CPU as Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro, the A13, so performance is off the charts. It runs Apple’s iOS 13, though it will get iOS updates for years to come – right up until the late-2020s. For software support, Apple’s iPhones cannot be beaten.
The specs aren’t quite as good as the Pixel 3a’s, the iPhone SE 2020 lacks an OLED display and has less RAM, the battery life is just average, and the camera isn’t as good, but the overall package, if you’re an iPhone fan, is very compelling. This is the cheapest phone Apple makes and it serves up some very impressive value for money.
6 – Moto G8 (The Ultra-Cheap Android Phone Option)
If you want to go ultra-cheap, our current pick for the best ultra-cheap mobile phone has to be the Moto G8. This phone retails for around £150, meaning you can buy it outright and then pick and choose what SIM only plan you want.
The Moto G8 does lack the finesse of Google’s Pixel 3a and Apple’s iPhone SE 2020. But it is A LOT cheaper, so that’s to be expected. Still, you do get quite a lot of bang for your buck with this phone. I mean, just check out the Moto G8’s specifications below:
Moto G8 Specs
- Processor: Qualcomm SDM665 Snapdragon 665 Octa-core (4×2.0 GHz Kryo 260 Gold + 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260 Silver)
- RAM: 4 GB
- Storage: 64 GB
- Display: 6.3 inches
- Camera: 48 MP (wide) + 16 MP (ultrawide) dedicated video camera (1080p) + 5 MP depth sensor
- Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 4000 mAh battery + Battery charging 18W
Cheap Mobile Phones FAQ – Wrapping Up…
Best Cheap Mobile Phone For Camera Tech?
If you want the best possible camera performance on your phone, and you’re operating on a budget, the Pixel 3a is the one to go for. It has a single-lens camera that punches way out of its weight class. It wipes the floor with Apple’s iPhone 11 (and it is better than half the price).
Google’s Pixel camera tech is, in my opinion, the best camera setup in the business. Sure, it doesn’t have multiple lenses and loads of bells and whistles but the reason for this is simple – you don’t need this when you have machine learning as sophisticated as what’s used inside the Pixel 3a.
The iPhone SE 2020, while respectable in the camera department, cannot hold a candle to the Pixel 4a. And neither can the Moto G8. If camera performance is important to you, the Pixel 3a is the one to go for – it is leagues ahead of the iPhone SE 2020 and Moto G8.
Best Cheap Mobile Phone For Performance?
For performance, Apple’s iPhone SE 2020 is the clear winner. It runs on Apple’s A13 CPU, the same SoC that powers the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. The A13 Bionic chip is the fastest, most potent mobile processor on the planet – it wipes the floor with everything.
In this context, the iPhone SE 2020 is untouchable. Although, performance isn’t everything. The iPhone SE 2020 does not have an OLED display, its camera isn’t all that, and it costs more than the Pixel 3a. In this respect, you need to figure out what’s more important to you – great specs and camera performance or speed and raw performance?
Best Cheap Phone For Updates?
Apple’s iPhone SE 2020 is the best for updates out of these three phones; it will get iOS updates well into the late-2020s, whereas the Pixel 3a will only get three years worth of Android updates, taking you up to around 2023.
Is this important? Kind of, although it depends on how long you plan on running the phone. If you only plan on running the phone for a year or two, it’s a moot point – both the iPhone and Pixel will be covered for updates during this time frame.
If you plan on holding onto your phone for as long as possible, the iPhone SE 2020 is the victor – it will get iOS updates for at least the next six years, possibly more…
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.