9 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

TODO alt text

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 budget smartphones available.

We think the OnePlus 5T is the best budget smartphone you can buy. It carries all of the Apple prestige and premium build quality, without the massive price tag.

Of course, the OnePlus 5T may not be right for you, especially if you want something cheaper, or prefer Android, so we've collected nine other excellent budget phones.

This list is ranked from the most expensive to the most affordable.

How to choose the best budget smartphone

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 budget smartphones you can buy today

1. 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.

2. Honor View 10

You don't need to be brave to use this brilliant affordable flagship

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

The Honor View 10, essentially, 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, only pipped by the OnePlus 5T's more stylish design.

3. iPhone SE

The best premium smartphone on a budget

Reasons to buy
+Solid design+Great camera
Reasons to avoid
-First generation Touch ID-Sub 720p display

The iPhone SE is the hybrid between the iPhone 5S and 6S. You've got the form factor of the 5S with the four-inch display and the fact you can easily use the phone with one hand combined with the nimble performance of the 6S. The camera is also one of the best you can get your hands on with a 12-megapixel sensor that also takes 4K video. These combine to create a compact and competent device that's also the cheapest iPhone ever.

4. Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)

Samsung's budget blower is a winner

Reasons to buy
+Metal and glass design+Awesome battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Not a full HD screen

The Galaxy A3 is the smallest phone Samsung currently have in their Galaxy lineup, it's a really nice design, giving the device a flagship look for a budget price tag. The phone runs on a octa-core processor and has 2GB of RAM — the base memory can easily be expanded with a Micro-SD card too. The phone has a 2350 mAh battery that can easily last up to two days of normal usage — although not having to charge your smartphone at night will take some getting used to.

5. Motorola Moto G5

The sweet spot between budget and specs

Reasons to buy
+Grippy metal back+1080p screen
Reasons to avoid

The Motorola G series has always been a contender for the best budget smartphone on the market — the G5 is no exception and certainly offers something special for the price. No sacrifices were made with screen resolution as the G5 rocks a 1080p display that will always light up courtesy of the octa-core CPU that powers it. Things won't chug either with 3GB of RAM to juggle all your multitasking needs — things are simple and just work on the G5.

6. Honor 7X

Honor offers loads of features for the cash

Reasons to buy
+Flagship design+Dual camera
Reasons to avoid

Yep, another entry from Honor! The Honor 7X has the look and feel of something much more expensive. It takes everything that's almost become the standard in the budget smartphone and builds upon it, giving you a bezel-less display and a dual camera system on the back. Battery life can also last up to two days provided you aren't doing anything intense on the device like gaming. Overall this is a package that rivals smartphones that cost two or three times more in price.

7. Sony Xperia E5

The best route to a super cheap Sony

Reasons to buy
+Days battery life+Quick enough
Reasons to avoid
-Cameras not great-The design is meh

The Xperia E5 looks like a Sony phone for sure… which is to say this isn't one you'll be pulling out to show your friends in the pub anytime soon. However the design is sturdy and feels very durable, but that's not the main reason this phone is great for people on a budget — it's the competent package you're getting. The E5 doesn't have mind blowing specs by any means, but it will do day to day tasks with ease and it'll make it through a whole day with some charge left.

8. Wileyfox Spark X

The best conversation starter

Reasons to buy
+Improved performance+A quirky design
Reasons to avoid
-Not a 1080p display-Battery life

You may remember T3's review of the entry-level Spark — in case you haven't read it, it wasn't good at all. The Sparks biggest downfall was the fact there was only 1GB of RAM packed inside the phone — the Spark X is set for release in the coming weeks and features double the RAM with an improved back camera. The phone is set to succeed where the entry level model failed and run apps and games smoothly with a battery life that gets you through a day.

9. HTC Desire 530

Love the paint job

Reasons to buy
+Promising on paper+We love the design
Reasons to avoid
-Poor performance-Dull screen

It seems as though HTC really missed a beat here, the cheap Desire is ultimately one of the worst budget smartphone offerings out there. The phone is hamstrung by the lack of RAM, meaning day to day performance is sluggish and ultimately not worth the asking price when there are plenty of other devices for the same money that do the jobs they're supposed to. Still, we really love the design.

9. 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.

Liked this?