Android phones, smart watches, tablets – this is the best time to buy cheap tech

You could build an Android ecosystem for less than £800!

Three Xiaomi Smart Band 7 Pro's with classic watch faces and Green, White and Orange bands, respectively
(Image credit: Xiaomi)

Technology has advanced massively in the last few years. The device that used to simply call or text people is now an all-in-one computing hub that fits in the palm of your hand. What once told the time can now tell the Emergency Services when you're in distress and provide a location so they can find you, too.

Seeing flagship devices like the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the Google Pixel 7 Pro spearhead new software features is massively exciting. These top-tier models represent the pinnacle of their technological field, but come with a price tag to match.

At the other end, cheap technology has been undergoing something of a revolution too. I genuinely think there has never been a better time to buy cheap tech. Let's take a look at why. 

Android Phones

I love Apple, I really do. But their devices don't really serve the lower-end of the market. Thankfully, Android devices are ready and waiting at every price point, and budget Android phones are better than ever. 

It's tough to determine the cut-off for what is "cheap", but I'd argue anything you can pick up for less than £500 is relatively inexpensive. And there is a wealth of Android phone goodness in that bracket.

The Google Pixel 6a is a solid choice here. Google's answer to the mid-range market, the Pixel 6a's spec sheet belies its price tag, and offers a slick user experience. It's smaller than the full-fat Google Pixel 6, and offers a no-frills handset that would have been considered a flagship a few years ago.

My choice, though, would be the Nothing Phone (1). It got a massive upgrade last week, which boosted the camera functionality, amongst other things. The base model comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for just £399. If you have the budget though, I'd opt for the top-tier device, which bags 12GB of RAM and 256GB on the storage front. At only £499, that's a ridiculously good deal. 

Smart Watches

When it comes to smart watches, there's a massive range available. The Apple Watch Series 8 is often considered the best smart watch available. The budget end is peppered with some fairly awful devices, too, which definitely doesn't help boost confidence in cheaper models.

But there are definitely some deals to be had. The Huawei Watch GT 3 is a fantastic option for less than £200, particularly if you're into classic watch styling. It's got a substantial battery life and charges fast, meaning you won't need to spend ages tethered to a plug socket to keep it alive. It's sensors are great too, making it perfect for fitness tracking.

However, I simply can't get the new Xiaomi Smart Band 7 Pro out of my head. I've been using an Apple Watch SE for just over a year, and, while it's been great to use, I can't help but feel dismayed when the Xiaomi is better equipped at less than one-third of the price. 

It has blood oxygen tracking, an always-on display and it can last up to 12 days between charges. In truth, the spec sheet reads closer to that of the Series 8, but with an RRP of £84.99, it's much better value.

If you're unsure about whether a smart watch is right for you, or just want a great value option, the Smart Band 7 Pro should be top of your list.

Android Tablets

Ever since the iPad first burst onto the scene, tablets have been an integral part of our lives. For those who just want to browse the web and do some basic word processing and spreadsheet work, I'd plump for a tablet and a wireless keyboard and mouse over some of the costlier laptops on the market.

Budget tablets are still something of a rarity, though – expect to fork out around £300 to get something worth having. The Xiaomi Pad 5 comes in just over that price tag, but represents a quality option if you can stretch your budget. If you can't, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite can be nabbed for less.

My pick here is the new Xiaomi Redmi Pad. I'll never know how a tablet with a spec sheet this stacked can hit the market at £269, but I'm glad it does. It's a substantial offering, with an 8,000mAh battery, some decent options for RAM and storage and a MediaTek Helio G99 chipset making things happen inside.

Affordable Technology: the verdict

If you take the lowest spec option from each of my suggestions, you'll spend just £753. Round that up to £800 to account for some accessories – a keyboard, a mouse, a tablet stand – and that still represents substantial value for money.

The best bit about continually evolving technology is that the features that are reserved for flagship devices this year could be available on budget options in five years time. That's what makes the lower-mid range of the market so appealing, and part of the reason why affordable tech is so attractive right now.

Sam Cross
Trainee Online Writer

Online news writer at T3.com, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism. With a passion for all things digital, he specialises in mobile phones, wearable technology, smart homes and TVs. Sam is an expert on Apple products, including iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and MacBook's. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, golfer and watch lover.