Best cheap phones 2020: the best cheap smartphones

Get a great cheap phone deal and score top hardware and features at a budget price point

Best cheap phones 2020
The Samsung Galaxy S10e
(Image credit: Future)

You want to find the best cheap phones available in 2020, and we want to help: we've got the cheap iPhones, the cheap Galaxy phones, the cheap Pixels and all the other budget handsets you need to know about right here.

The main purpose of our best cheap phones guide is to give you a healthy selection of affordable mobile devices – whatever your taste in phone design, or required feature list, or actual budget, you should be able to find something good here.

Despite the low prices you'll see here, these remain very competent handsets. The good news is that you can pick up a very decent phone at a very low price nowadays, with quality screens, fast internals, and good cameras.

Whether you want the best cheap phones running Android, the best cheap phones running iOS, or the best cheap phone for photography, we can direct you. We've also included some handy general buying advice to make sure you pick the right phone.

If you're actually looking to shop at the higher end of the smartphone market, though, then we advise you to check out T3's best phones guide, as well as our best Android phones guide, too.

The very best cheap phones: get a great cheap mobile phone deal

Nokia 7.2 best cheap phones 2020

The Nokia 7.2 is the best cheap phone for most people.

(Image credit: Nokia)

1. Best cheap phone for most people: Nokia 7.2

The best phone for out-and-out value

Weight: 180g
Dimensions: 159.9 x 75.2 x 8.3 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.3 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 2280 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 660
RAM: 4GB / 6GB
Storage: 64GB / 128GB
Battery: 3,500mAh
Rear camera: 48 MP f/1.8 wide + 8 MP f/2.2 ultrawide + 5 MP f/2.4 depth
Front camera: 20 MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Appealing design+Decent internal specs+Price is very appealing

A round of applause please for the Nokia 7.2, which continues the running trend from parent company HMD Global of pushing out fantastically made, great value-for-money handsets. This particular phone gives you some very decent specs for not all that much money at all.

It's also one of the most recent launches from HMD Global and Nokia, so you're guaranteed two years of speedy Android software updates and then an extra year of security updates on top of that. Nokia sticks to a clean, bloat-free version of Android which we like very much.

We should also mention the triple-lens rear camera – cameras are another area where the Nokia brand has a strong reputation, and you'll find you can get some top-notch snaps from this. The Nokia 7.2 is a class act all round and you can get it at a very reasonable price.

Samsung Galaxy S10e best cheap phones

The best premium cheap phone? That's the Samsung Galaxy S10e.

2. Best premium cheap phone: Samsung Galaxy S10e

The best cheap phone in the world if you can spend a bit

Weight: 150g
Dimensions: 142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 5.8-inch
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,280 pixels
CPU: Exynos 9820 or Snapdragon 855
RAM: 6GB / 8GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 3,100mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.5-2.4 wide + 16MP f/2.2 ultrawide
Front camera: 10MP f/1.9
Reasons to buy
+Immaculate fit and finish+Beautiful AMOLED screen+Stylish, compact design

The Samsung Galaxy S10e is getting cheaper all the time, making it a fantastic pick that can still hold its own in terms of performance. We loved the S10e on review, granting it a maximum score of five stars and concluding that, "it certainly holds its own in terms of performance and design, and won't let you down with battery life, software, or camera quality, either."

And, for a phone that costs under half many other flagships, we think that competitiveness is simply remarkable and something that Samsung should be well and truly proud of.

The thing we arguably love most about the Samsung Galaxy S10e, though, is that in an industry where screen-size wars seem to be getting well and truly out of hand, with each maker constant making phone screens bigger and bigger across their entire ranges, the modestly sized and pocket friendly 5.8-inch, 19:9, 438 ppi, 2,280 x 1,080 resolution display on the handset is such a breath of fresh air. Along with Samsung's impeccable levels of fit and finish, this device truly is an ergonomic and aesthetic joy.

Wrapping up the S10e package, of course, is a powerful internal hardware suite that includes a Exynos 9820 CPU, up to 8GB of RAM and a 3,100mAh battery, plenty of internal storage (up to 256GB) and what is probably the most slick OS skin on the market running on top of Android 10. A truly fantastic smartphone package, and one that is available at far from a flagship asking price.

Pixel 3a best cheap phones

If you're shopping on a budget, you really can't do better than the Google Pixel 3a.

(Image credit: Google)

3. Best budget cheap phone: Google Pixel 3a

The best budget cheap Android phone available

Weight: 147g
Dimensions: 151.3 x 70.1 x 8.2 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 5.6-inch
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,220 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 670
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 3,000mAh
Rear camera: 12.2MP f/1.8 wide
Front camera: 8MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Great Pixel design+Amazing camera +Guaranteed Android updates

The expression "cheap and cheerful" perfectly encapsulates Google's cheapest Pixel device. If you're unfamiliar with the brand, it's basically Google's way of setting the trends for the rest of the Android manufacturers, showing what could be if they put their minds to it. While the others in the lineup are really expensive, the 3a just, well, isn't. 

The 64GB model, which is the only one you can buy, will set you back around £399 which, considering you're guaranteed at least three years of Android updates, is certainly good value. This phone is so good, in fact, that we included it on our list of the best Android phones in general

But what do you get? Well, besides the Android updates – which can be hard to come by – you get a best-in-class camera, snappy performance, and free Google Photos cloud storage, alongside a great display. It doesn't get much better than that... 

Moto G8 Power best cheap phones 2020

The Moto G8 Power packs in a lot of... erm... power.

(Image credit: Motorola)

4. Moto G8 Power

The best cheap phone for a long-lasting battery

Weight: 197g
Dimensions: 156 x 75.8 x 9.6 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.4 inches
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,300 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 665
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 16MP f/1.7 wide + 8MP f/2.2 telephoto + 8MP f/2.2 ultrawide + 2MP f/2.2 macro
Front camera: 16MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Huge battery+Attractive lines+Solid build

If you're looking for a phone that gives you a lot of bang for your buck then you simply can't go wrong with a Moto-branded handset these days, and the Moto G8 Power is one of the most recent from the stable. The big selling point here is that huge 5,000mAh battery.

According to the manufacturer, that means you can look forward to up to three days of battery life – this is a phone that can get you through a camping weekend without a charger. Elsewhere the rest of the specs are perfectly respectable too, and we like the spacious 6.4-inch display.

It's worth noting the details of the rear camera too, a quad-lens affair with 2x optical zoom and AI assistance to help you capture the best shot every time. If the G8 Power isn't quite the best cheap phone for you, then the other G8 models are well worth looking into as well.

Honor Play best cheap phones

5. Honor Play

The best cheap phone for gamers

Weight: 176g
Dimensions: 157.9 x 74.3 x 7.5 mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.3-inch
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,340 pixels
CPU: Kirin 970
RAM: 4GB / 6GB
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 3,750mAh
Rear camera: 16MP f/2.2 + 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor
Front camera: 16MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Fast Kirin 970 CPU+7.1 Channel Histen audio+Awesome gaming performance

The Honor Play, despite being pitched as a mobile gaming powerhouse, is actually just a fabulous all-round Android phone that delivers a stunning package for a very, very low price point of only £279.95 – or even less at some outlets.

Seriously, you get some incredibly tasty technology in the Honor Play, including the rapid Kirin 970 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a very spacious 6.3-inch FHD+ screen. Solid if not spectacular dual rear cameras and a single selfie camera are partnered with 64GB of internal storage space, while the phone's in-built GPU Turbo tech means that mobile games run incredibly well, too.

And, with immersive 7.1 Histen audio and a 89 per cent screen-to-body ratio in play, enjoying those games, or any other media, really is a super enjoyable experience. 

Simply put, the Honor Play seriously makes you question why anyone would spend more on a mobile phone, which in some flagships means a price 3 or 4 times that of this phone.

OnePlus 6T best cheap phones

(Image credit: OnePlus)

6. OnePlus 6T

The best cheap phone for speed and style

Weight: 191g
Dimensions: 156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.39-inch
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,340 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 855
RAM: 6GB / 8GB
Storage: 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 4,000mAh
Rear camera: 48MP f/1.8 wide + 8MP f/2.4 telephoto + 13MP f/2.4 ultrawide
Front camera: 20MP f/2.2
Reasons to buy
+Really nice design+Excellent display+Internal hardware still holds up

The OnePlus 6T is no longer the newest phone on the OnePlus block, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be considered for your next phone purchase: it remains one of the best cheap phones on the market, with a gorgeous 6.41-inch screen, some nippy internals, and a stylish design.

You don't get wireless charging or IP68 waterproofing with the OnePlus 6T, and this year's OnePlus phones have better cameras, but this is an excellent option if you're shopping down at the cheaper end of the market. We're big fans of the OxygenOS software OnePlus makes too.

Apple iPhone XR best cheap phones

(Image credit: Apple)

7. Apple iPhone XR

The best cheap phone for iPhone users

Weight: 194g
Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm
OS: iOS 13
Screen size: 6.1-inch
Resolution: 828 x 1,792 pixels
CPU: Apple A12 Bionic
Storage: 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 2,942mAh
Rear camera: 12MP f/1.8 wide
Front camera: 7MP f/2.2
Reasons to buy
+Slick and powerful+Very strong camera+Great battery life

iOS is without a shadow of a doubt the most fluid, straightforward mobile operating system in existence. Pair that with the durable, capable hardware found on the iPhone XR, and you have one of the best affordable smartphones money can buy.

Performance is fantastic, fuelled by a 6.1-inch LCD screen, Apple's A12 Bionic CPU, 3GB of RAM and a 2,942mAh battery that supports wireless charging. You're also getting Face ID (face recognition) for authentication instead of Touch ID (a fingerprint reader).

The camera isn't half bad, either. 

While it comprises of a lone 12-megapixel sensor on the rear, it's much larger (in physical size) than anything Apple had used at the time – letting in more light and offering a wider viewing angle than earlier iPhone models. The result? More detail.

Rest assured, you aren't sacrificing a feature-rich experience by opting for a cheaper iPhone versus a higher-end variant like the iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro – all the key features you'd expect to use are there, including FaceTime and iMessage.

Realme 6 best cheap phones

The Realme 6 is a very decent phone at a very affordable price.

(Image credit: Realme)

8. Realme 6

Realme 6 gives you much more phone that you would expect at this price

Weight: 191g
Dimensions: 162.1 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.5 inches
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,400 pixels
CPU: Mediatek MT6785 Helio G90T
RAM: 4GB / 6GB / 8GB
Storage: 64GB / 128GB
Battery: 4,300mAh
Rear camera: 64MP f/1.8 wide + 8MP f/2.3 ultrawide + 2MP f/2.4 macro + 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor
Front camera: 16MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Very affordable+Stylish curves+Quad-lens rear camera

Realme is another company making a name for itself when it comes to budget phones, and while you might not think that a little over £200 is enough to get you a handset with a premium feel, the Realme 6 shows that it's possible.

Okay the specs aren't market-leading, but you wouldn't expect them to be. The design and build quality are really good, as is the battery life, and you get a perfectly respectable quad-lens camera around the back. It's definitely going to get you good photos and videos more often than not.

As is often the case with these Chinese phones, the software is a little quirky, and you might have to trim down some of the bloat on it. There's no waterproofing or wireless charging either, but everything considered, we'd say the Realme 6 is one of the best cheap phones in the business.

Samsung Galaxy A9 best cheap phones

9. Samsung Galaxy A9

The best cheap phone for photography enthusiasts

Weight: 183g
Dimensions: 162.5 x 77 x 7.8 mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.3-inch
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,220 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 660
RAM: 6GB / 8GB
Storage: 64GB / 128GB
Battery: 3,800mAh
Rear camera: 24MP f/1.7 wide + 10MP f/2.4 telephoto + 8MP f/2.4 ultrawide + 5MP f/2.2 depth sensor
Front camera: 24MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+Incredible camera package+Large "Immersive Display" screen+Generous 6GB of RAM

Now available for close to £300 SIM-free if you shop around, the Samsung Galaxy A9 could tempt those who’ve resisted plumping for a second-hand flagship Galaxy.

The star of the show on the Samsung Galaxy A9 is its rear-mounted quadruple camera system, which delivers a 24-megapixel primary sensor with f/1.7 aperture, a depth-sensing 5-megapixel camera, an 8-megapixel telephoto sensor for long-range shooting, and finally a 10-megapixel ultra wide angle 120-degree sensor for capturing breathtaking panoramas and tall landmarks.

Oh, and that's not forgetting that the A9 also comes with a 24-megapixel front selfie camera as well - that's a five sensor camera system on a phone that costs just over £300. Madness!

It's not just about the camera, though, on the Samsung Galaxy A9, with the handset also coming loaded with a 6.3-inch FHD+ screen, solid Snapdragon 660 processor, a generous 6GB of RAM, and a well-sized 3,800mAh battery, too.

Huawei P30 Lite best cheap phones

10. Huawei P30 Lite

A great alternative best cheap smartphone all-rounder

Weight: 159g
Dimensions: 152.9 x 72.7 x 7.4 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.15-inch
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,312 pixels
CPU: Kirin 910
RAM: 4GB / 6GB / 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 3,340mAh
Rear camera: 48MP f/1.8 wide + 8MP ultrawide + 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor
Front camera: 24MP f/2.0
Reasons to buy
+6GB of RAM is plenty+Triple-lens rear camera+Performance is incredible (for a budget handset)

If the Huawei P30 and Huawei P30 Pro are too rich for your blood, may we recommend the Huawei P30 Lite? Huawei's well-established manufacturing abilities are still present and correct, you just don't get the top-end processors or cameras of the more costly models.

The 6.15-inch screen gives you plenty of space, the specs (including 6GB of RAM) are very competitive at this price point, and you do get a triple-lens rear camera thrown in as well – the cameras on the other P30 models outperform it, but it's still a very capable snapper.

Nokia 7.2 best cheap phones

(Image credit: Nokia)

How to choose the best cheap phone for you

Flagship smartphones are great: they're lightning fast, well designed, and come with a ton of extra features, too. But they come at a cost, and that cost is a lot of money. Most flagship smartphones now cost north of £1,000 to buy and, while the value you can get out of them can justify the cost, there is no getting away from the fact that it is big outlay, and especially so when contract costs then have to be added in on top.

The thing is, though, if you do your research well and decide exactly what you prize and need from a phone, then you can shop in the mid-range or budget phone market and get 70-90 per cent of the same experience as you would get if you owned a high-end phone, but for literally a fraction of the cost.

Most phone makers are cottoning on to this, too, with everyone from Xiaomi to Samung, and Google to Sony now offering some truly incredible handsets at fantastically low prices. Many of these handsets come with features that, only a few years ago, would be purely the domain of flagships, too, and in some cases we're now seeing entirely new technology actually debut in these cheaper devices. Just look at the Samsung Galaxy A80 and its unique pop-up and rotating camera system as proof.

As such, the first step to deciding which cheap smartphone is right for you is to work out exactly what you value most from a handset. If it is the ability to play games on the go, for example, then that will help you lean toward a device like the Honor Play that specialises in running games at high frame rates and with eye-popping visuals.

Equally, if you absolutely must have liquid-smooth core operation, with fast app loading and UI navigation, then you know you need to look for a device that comes with a powerful processor and slick OS skin, such as the OnePlus 6.

Maybe you actually prize taking pictures more than anything else, and need a phone that despite being cheaper than a flagship device still delivers a powerful and versatile all-round camera system. If so, then a phone like the Samsung A9 with its stacked quadruple camera system will be more down your street.

Creating a list of primary and secondary features you'd like to have works well in our opinion when balancing want and budget, and then where possible try to pick up a device that delivers at least one feature from your primary list, and two or more from your secondary list. Naturally, many smartphones in our best cheap phones guide deliver numerous excellent features at very competitive price points, so we're guessing you won't have too much trouble balancing your needs with your budget.

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