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Best Cheap 4G Phones: Five of the best

By Kevin Thomas on 08th September 2014

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UPDATED: Smartphones used to be almost luxury items but they quickly hit the mainstream, and as more people buy them and more models are released, competition along with the economies of scale have pushed the prices down.

Now not only are many smartphones quite affordable but in many cases they’re still quite powerful and feature packed. Some cheap smartphones are even 4G ready. With that in mind here are 6 of the best affordable 4G phones.

Sony Xperia E3 (~£150) - Affordably excellent

Sony Xperia E3

The Xperia E3 is Sony's most affordable 4G smartphone with the recently unveiled device set to cost around £150 when it lands in the UK later this month. 

Sony's smartphone has a 4.5-inch (480*854 pixels) and is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor backed up by 1GB of RAM. The Xperia E3 comes pre-loaded with the latest version of Android KitKat and the slim and lightweight exterior (8.5mm and 143g) is available in a choice of White, Yellow, Red or Black.

Storage weighs in at 4GB, but thankfully is expandable using microSD cards and you also get a 5 mega-pixel rear-facing camera and a VGA front-facing snapper for video calling.

Overall, it's a great value 4G handset with a quad-core processor and a solid all-round spec but it's a shame Sony couldn't have included a 720p display.

Nokia Lumia 735 (~£200) – Great for selfies and Windows Phone 8.1

Nokia Lumia 735

The Nokia Lumia 735 is a new addition to the Lumia range and comes pre-loaded with the Windows Phone 8.1 and the brand new Lumia Denim update. It's set to cost around £200 when it lands in the UK later this month and that gets you a surprisingly well-rounded smartphone.

 The Lumia 735 is a selfie specialist thanks to a front-facing wide-angle 5 mega-pixel snapper, which is backed up by a solid rear-facing 6.7 mega-pixel camera with Zeiss optics and an LED flash. It's also got a spacious 4.7-inch 720p display and is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM.

 It's design is a little plasticky compared to higher-priced smartphones, but for the money it probably delivers the best specification of any smartphone on this list. And it's still a pretty thin and lightweight device that can be matched to your mood thanks to interchangable back covers.

The Windows platform itself is now much more enticing than it used to be and assuming you arn't locked into the Android or iOS platforms then the Lumia 735 is one of the best cheap 4G smartphones in the world.

Moto G with 4G (~£150) – Great value

Moto G 4G

The Moto G is Motorola’s most successful phone ever and with good reason. It combined solid specs (a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM), with a large, high quality 4.5 inch 720 x 1280 display, an attractive build, the latest version of Android and a low price tag.

All it was really missing was 4G LTE and a microSD card slot, both of which have been added for a new version dubbed, logically enough, the Moto G with 4G. Its one remaining Achilles heel is the camera, which at 5 megapixels isn’t great, but then this is a £150 phone so it’s more than forgivable.

 It's a really tough call for Android lovers to choose between the Sony Xperia E3 and the Moto G. Motorola's smartphone has a better display and a superior front-facing camera, but it's a pretty chunky device at 11.6mm and a new version is just around the corner whereas the Sony is a brand new smartphone.

Google Nexus 5 (~£299) – High end specs on a budget

Google Nexus 5
Admittedly at £299 the Google Nexus 5 isn’t exactly cheap, but it is fantastic value for money, as with a 2.3 GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM it has the specs you’d expect from a £400-£500 handset.

Add to that a stunning 4.95 inch 1080 x 1920 screen with a pixel density of 445 pixels per inch, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 support (as well as 4G LTE of course) and it really is approaching the full package. Its 8 megapixel camera is pretty average for a high end phone and there’s no expandable storage, but when it’s as much as £200 cheaper than the competition we can live with that.

Not to mention the fact that being a Google device you always get updated to the latest version of Android first. If you want a high end 4G handset on a tight budget then this is undoubtedly the one to go for. In fact even if money is no object the Google Nexus 5 is still well worth considering, it’s that good.

EE Kestrel (£99) – Bargain bucket

EE Kestrel
EE had one goal with the Kestrel: to bring more users over to its 4G network. It plans to do that by selling a 4G equipped phone at just about the lowest price possible, with the EE Kestrel retailing for just £99.

Despite the incredibly low price though it’s not actually a bad handset. It has a 4.5 inch screen, which at 540 x 960 is sub-HD, but still of reasonable quality. It also has a slim build, coming in at just 7.85mm thick and with a 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM it’s not exactly under powered either.

Its 5 megapixel camera isn’t special and it only has 8GB of internal storage, but there is a microSD card slot to expand that and really, it’s £99. This isn’t the best phone on the list but it’s possibly the best value and right now it’s the cheapest way to get a 4G smartphone, although it is only available on the EE network.

HTC Desire 610 (~£220) - HTC Sense and camera capabilities

HTC Desire 610

The HTC Desire 610 is another mid-range Android smartphone with 4G LTE support. But it has a couple of advantages over other smartphones in this price bracket and the first is that it comes with HTC's software including the excellent HTC Sense user-interface and Blinkfeed.

 Additionally, it has a very decent 8 mega-pixel rear-facing camera with LED flash backed up by the HTC's superb Zoe camera software. Music playback is also great because the Desire 610 has HTC Boomsound audio technology and that makes it the smart choice for music lovers. 

 HTC have also managed to include a 4.7-inch 720p HD display, a quad-core 1.2GHz processor and 8GB of onboard storage (expendable using microSD cards). Overall, HTC's smartphone is a very well rounded smartphone and a good choice, especially for those looking for a good camera or to blast out the latest tunes.  

Our Conclusion

The EE Kestrel is great value at just £99, but we think you'd be better off paying a little more to get a more well-rounded device such as the Moto G or Sony Xperia E3, which are great mid-range Android smartphones that are very hard to choose between. Google's Nexus 5 might be  a little too expensive at £300 to be classed as a cheap 4G phone, but it's easily the best specced device on this list, while the HTC Desire 610 has the best camera and is great for those who listen to music on their phone.

However, we believe that the best cheap 4G phone on the market today is the Nokia Lumia 735, which at just £200 delivers a well-rounded specification with a spacious 4.7-inch 720p display, a quad-core processor and a solid 5 mega-pixel camera.  You also get the very latest version of Windows Phone 8.1, which delivers an experience that is now equally as good as Apple iOS or Google's Android.

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