10 best cheap smartphones 2018: affordable phones to suit any budget

Cheap phones which don't break the bank - get the latest handset features on a budget

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If you're looking for the best cheap mobile phone, you've come to the right place. Welcome to T3's line-up of the very best cheap smartphones available.

We think the Honor View 10 is the best cheap smartphone you can buy. It carries all the prestige and premium build quality of a flagship but without the massive price tag.

Of course, the Honor View 10 may not be right for you, especially if you want something super cheap, or have an affinity with another maker, so we've collected nine other excellent budget phones for you to choose from too.

We've also included some handy buying advice to help you find the best cheap smartphone for you.

How to choose the best cheap smartphone for you

Flagship smartphones are great, they're lightning fast, well designed, and offer a ton of extra features. But they come at a cost, and that cost is a lot of money.

If you're looking for an alternative to one of those expensive handsets or the best smartphone for kids, for example - we've got you covered. 

While the phones in this list are all more affordable — we've only selected the very best phones which don't scrimp on hardware, design, or features. We're only recommending the cheap smartphones we'd be happy to use.

We think just because you're paying less, doesn't mean you should have a phone that feels cheap. 

You should also look out for premium features from more expensive smartphones, such as a fingerprint sensor, waterproofing, or an excellent camera.

The very best cheap smartphones you can buy today

Best cheap smartphone

1. Honor View 10

You don't need to be brave to use this brilliant blower

Reasons to buy
+Dual camera+Edge-to-edge display
Reasons to avoid
-EMUI-No water resistance

The Honor View 10, essentially, is the very well reviewed Huawei Mate 10 Pro, which almost costs twice as much. You've got essentially the same display, chipset, software, and camera setup. The only thing that's really changed is the body – which is now aluminium rather than glass. It really is fantastic value, and only pipped by the OnePlus 5T's more stylish design aesthetically, which itself is trumped by the the gorgeous new Honor 10 flagship.

2. OnePlus 5T

Flagship specs, all-screen design, bargain price

Reasons to buy
+Premium design+Flagship specs
Reasons to avoid
-Only HD screen-Not waterproof

OnePlus are renowned for combining the latest specs with a price you can't argue with, but their first two phones were pretty hit or miss, the OnePlus 5T is difficult to beat at this price. Budget smartphones always claim they can compete with the likes of Google, Samsung and LG, but few ever come close to the mark, the OnePlus 5T gives all three a run for their money by delivering a phone with a Snapdragon 835 processor and 6GB of RAM…6GB!

It's not just the specs that make this phone, it's the all aluminium chassis that gives the phone a premium look and feel, and the bezel-less 6-inch display. It isn't as good as the OnePlus 6, but at this price point it is still one of the best phones in the world.

Best cheap smartphone

3. Sony Xperia XA1

You’ll struggle to find a better camera for this low, low price

Reasons to buy
+Very good camera +Slimline and stylish design
Reasons to avoid
-Screen is just so-so-Image processing is OTT

The Sony Xperia XA1 is a good budget buy with a superb camera sensor (23MP!). It’s a shame the camera software is a little too enthusiastic, though, with some quite over the top image processing taking place at times. Design-wise the phone looks great despite sporting a plastic back plate and the phone looks significantly more mature and premium than a lot of other similarly priced rival devices. Battery life is standard, as too is its 3GB of RAM, however performance is smooth and 720p screen perfectly matched.

Best cheap smartphone

4. iPhone SE

The best premium smartphone on a budget

Reasons to buy
+Compact design+Big battery
Reasons to avoid
-Camera tech is a little dated

Although a successor is almost certainly on the way, Apple’s original SE, which dates back to 2016, is the only budget iPhone right now. Stuffing the internals of an iPhone 6S into the compact case of an iPhone 5S, it’s an old-school look and a tiny phone – though some will be pleased they can still get one this size. Some tech, like cameras, are a little behind the others here, but strong nevertheless. iOS is slick, and the battery has some serious staying power. Note, though, that opting for the cheapest 16GB model would be madness.

Samsung Galaxy A8

5. SAMSUNG GALAXY A8

Samsung's budget blower is a winner

Reasons to buy
+Super camera package+Super-AMOLED screen
Reasons to avoid
-A design that doesn't stand out

Theoretically around £400, but often available for under £300, the A8 could tempt those who’ve resisted the S8 so far. There are no curved edges, and even with its glass back it feels significantly cheaper in the hand, but it does some awesome things. Its camera package, both front and back, is stellar, and the rounded-corner Super-AMOLED screen, coupled with a strong eight-core processor and 4GB RAM, is lurid and quick to respond. Cost savings come in terms of battery and storage, at 3,000mAh and 32GB respectively.

6. Motorola Moto G6

The sweet spot between budget and specs

Reasons to buy
+Lush 3D glass design+Crisp 18:9 IPS LCD Full HD display+Feature-packed dual rear camera system
Reasons to avoid
-No IP67/68 water resistance rating

We’re not sure why the hefty chin here couldn’t house hardware buttons as well as a fingerprint sensor. Other than that, this is a phone that does far more than its price point suggests. The 12MP camera is strong, the phone itself is plenty responsive, it’s clad front and back in glass, and the 1080x2160 screen is punchy and colourful. Storage is a low 32GB, as you’d expect for the price, and the Snapdragon 450 CPU struggles when pushed, so invest an extra few quid in the Amazon-exclusive 64GB/4GB RAM model: you won’t regret it.

7. Nokia 8

A budget bargain from one of mobile’s most loved names

Reasons to buy
+Now super value for money+Surprisingly good snapper
Reasons to avoid
-Aesthetically a step behind current flagships

The 5.8-inch QHD Nokia 8 handset didn’t start in this price bracket. At launch it was £500, and decent with it. Now available for a little under £300, it’s a remarkable phone for the price. Slim and reassuringly weighty, it’s also super-quick thanks to the Snapdragon 835 doing the driving, and comes equipped with 64GB storage and a 13MP dual-sensor rear camera that pulls its weight, plus a 13MP front camera that’s no slouch. Forgive the fact it’s a step behind aesthetically: this is flagship quality made fully affordable.

8. Honor 9

Honor offers loads of features for the cash

Reasons to buy
+Flagship spec+Fast UI
Reasons to avoid
-Low-light camera performance

Even if your metric of beauty is based on screen size, the Honor 9’s shimmering metallic colour scheme and smooth, premium feel will go some way to making up for its larger top and bottom bezels. The internals don’t hurt, either: 64GB storage, a hefty 4GB RAM (or 6GB, if you can find it) along with near-flagship performance from the Kirin 960 CPU and a camera that wouldn’t feel out of place on a £900 phone. It’s almost a year old, but keeping up with its competitors, and its newly reduced price makes the Honor 9 a real bargain.

HUAWEI Y9 (2018)

9. Huawei Y9 (2018)

Huge battery life and a on-trend 18:9 screen

Reasons to buy
+Huge 4,000mAh battery+On-trend 18:9 screen
Reasons to avoid
-Mid-range hardware spec

The Huawei Y9 (2018) is expected to arrive in the UK at about £249, putting it near the bottom end of Huawei’s range – but you wouldn’t really know it to look at it. The 18:9 screen is bright and lively, it’s only a hair thicker than the Honor 9, which it shares a lot of tech with, and its dual-sensor rear camera and face-unlocking front pair are perfectly acceptable. Even with 3GB RAM and Huawei’s middling Kirin 659 chipset, the Y9 is responsive, and its 4,000mAh battery lasts an absolute age.

Best cheap smartphone

10. Vodafone Smart Prime 7

A mere £70 - you get a lot for your money

Reasons to buy
+Cheap, very cheap+HD screen
Reasons to avoid
-UI can chug at times-The design is dull

By far the cheapest phone on this list — for that price you're getting a 5-inch 720p display that isn't rough on your eyes at all. The phone isn't the fastest but is running one of the purest forms of Android you can get your hands on — there's next to no bloatware here at all. Everything here is functional and you're getting exactly what you pay for. You won't be running intense games on here, but you will be getting through the day messaging and doing some light web browsing.

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