In Depth

The best budget smartphones 2018: what you can get for less than £200

They may be inexpensive, but these handsets still have great battery life, superb cameras and a premium feel

Smartphone technology has improved in leaps and bounds since the original iPhone – the game changer that marked the dawn of the modern handset – was released a decade ago. 

New smartphone makers are bringing hi-tech products to the market on a monthly basis but many of these come with price tags as high as £1,000. 

The good news is that a host of smartphones can be found for a fraction of the cost of the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. These boast impressive cameras and powerful processors. 

Here’s our pick of the best budget smartphones for under £200: 

Vodafone Smart N8

Vodafone is best known as one of the UK’s biggest mobile networks but the company also produces entry-level smartphones that pack a punch. 

The Vodafone Smart N8, available only on the company’s network, is the cheapest entry on the list at £89. 

Despite its modest price, the N8 features the type of hi-tech features that were exclusive to big-budget smartphones not so long ago. These include a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor that Trusted Reviews says is “remarkable” for a budget handset, as well as a “respectable” 13-megapixel camera at the back. 

The device is a little smaller than its predecessor, the Vodafone Smart Prime 7, but that hasn’t come at the expense of battery life, the tech site says. Users can expect a full day’s worth of charge with the N8, although streaming video will have an impact on battery consumption. 

This budget phone is a “steal”,  especially for buyers look for “flagship-style features and a decent camera”, Expert Reviews concludes. 

Honor 9 Lite

The Honor 9 Lite is one of few smartphones on the market with a bezel-free design. It’s similar to the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S9 but is nearly a fifth of the price. 

The Chinese gadget firm has equipped the Honor Lite 9 with an edge-to-edge 5.65in LCD display, says Tech Advisor, with a resolution of 2160x1080 and an aspect ratio of 18:9. It also comes with a fingerprint scanner and a 13-megapixel dual-lens camera at the rear, along with a pair of front-facing 2-megapixel shooters. 

You can find an Honor 9 Lite on Amazon for £200.

Huawei P Smart

Chinese gadget maker Huawei is known for packing its budget smartphones with the latest mobile tech, and the company’s new P Smart handset is no exception.

Offering high-end levels of performance for just £199, the P Smart is kitted out with a 5.7in full HD LCD panel that comes with an “ultra-tall” aspect ratio of 18:9, says Trusted Reviews. The screen is “much better than the majority of other phones at this price”, with a “blindingly bright” display.

The smartphone’s Kirin 659 processor is also more than a match for handsets with significantly higher price tags. The chip handles most tasks with ease and only dips in performance when running “intensive” 3D games such as Asphalt 8, the tech website reports. 

There’s also a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, which Expert Reviews says is “perfectly responsive and easy to use”. 

Above that sits a dual-lens rear-facing camera that “does a great job of capturing clean” and “sharp” images in the daylight, and manages to impressively replicate colour, the site reports. 

The Huawei P Smart is available at Carphone Warehouse.

Motorola Moto G4 Plus

While the Moto G4 Plus [pictured top] doesn’t have the razor-sharp looks of some of the higher-end smartphones on the market, it does come with an impressive set of features considering its price.

The Moto G4 Plus is powered by an eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, says Alphr, along with 2GB of RAM. It’s a power efficient chip, so users can expect an “above average” battery life of around 13 and a half hours of constant use. 

The smartphone also offers support for dual sim cards, the tech site says, as well as a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera. Buyers can spec the device in eight different colours, including “deep sea blue” and “lava red”.

The Moto 4 Plus is available to order from Amazon for £199. 

Nokia 6

Legendary handset maker Nokia is renowned for producing powerful smartphones with small price tags – and the new 6 is no exception.

The standout feature on the Nokia 6 is its 16-megapixel rear-facing camera and 8-megapixel shooter at the rear, Engadget reports. To put that in perspective, the flagship Samsung Galaxy S9 comes with a 12-megapixel sensor at the back. 

The Nokia 6 is available with 32GB of storage as standard, the tech site says, but you can opt for a 64GB model for an additional fee. You can also upgrade the storage to a maximum of 128GB thanks to its MicroSD card port. 

Prices for the Nokia 6 start at £199 on Amazon

Sony Xperia L1

The Sony Xperia L1 might not be the most powerful smartphone on this list, but it’s one of the cheapest mid-range devices on the market. 

The handset’s matte-coloured plastic design makes the smartphone feel “reassuringly sturdy”, says Trusted Reviews, yet it still gives users the impression that it’s a premium device. 

Meanwhile, the Xperia L1 sports a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera that captures images with accurate colours and impressive depth, the site says. You can switch the camera into manual mode, allowing you to change settings such as white balance and exposure. 

The Xperia L1 is available to order from Carphone Warehouse for just £129.

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