4G is becoming more accessible all that time and not just because the networks are expanding their coverage, but also because it’s finding its way into ever more phones, many of which are surprisingly affordable.
These days it’s even possible to get a 4G phone for under £100. But with so many out there it can be hard to pick out the best of the bunch, even when your options are limited by budget, so we’ve done the hard work for you and curated a list of the best cheap 4G phones, complete with prices and details of what makes them good.
The Xperia E3 is Sony's most affordable 4G smartphone, as it’s available for just £110.
Sony's smartphone has a 4.5-inch (480*854 pixels) display and is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor backed up by 1GB of RAM. The Xperia E3 comes pre-loaded with Android KitKat and is likely to get updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop 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 megapixel 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.
The Nokia Lumia 735 is a fairly recent addition to the Lumia range and comes pre-loaded with Windows Phone 8.1 and the new Lumia Denim update. It costs around £200 and that gets you a surprisingly well-rounded smartphone.
The Lumia 735 is a selfie specialist thanks to a front-facing wide-angle 5 megapixel snapper, which is backed up by a solid rear-facing 6.7 megapixel camera with Carl 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.
Its 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 interchangeable back covers.
The Windows Phone platform itself is now much more enticing than it used to be and assuming you aren't locked into the Android or iOS platforms then the Lumia 735 is one of the best cheap 4G smartphones in the world.
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, Android KitKat 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 newer 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 £125 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.
A new version of the Moto G was recently launched, but that one doesn’t have 4G, so mobile data fans are best off sticking with the Moto G with 4G.
Admittedly at £299 the Google Nexus 5 isn’t exactly cheap, but if you shop around you can get it a little cheaper and even full price its 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 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 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.
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 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.
But before you run out and buy one bear in mind that the HTC Desire 620 is set to land soon, with a larger screen and better front-facing camera. No price tag has yet been attached to it, be we’d assume it will be almost as affordable.
Like the Nexus 5, the Huawei Honor 6 stretches the definition of cheap, but it’s half the price of a flagship and you get a whole lot of phone for your money. Not only does it obviously come with 4G, but it has a large 5.0 inch 1080 x 1920 display, giving it a crisp and clear pixel density of 445 pixels per inch.
It’s powerful too with 3GB of RAM and an octa-core processor, where four cores run at 1.7GHz and the other four run at 1.3GHz.
Rounding out the specs there’s a 13 megapixel camera on the back, a 5 megapixel snapper on the front, 16 or 32GB of storage, a microSD card slot and a large 3100mAh battery. Plus like most recent handsets it runs Android KitKat, though there’s no word yet on whether it will be getting an upgrade to Android Lollipop.
Despite its slim 7.5mm thick build the Huawei Honor 6 isn’t much to look at, but when you’re browsing the web at lightning fast speeds and making the most of its powerful processor you’re not likely to care.
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 along with the Huawei Honor 6 it's one of the best specced devices on this list, while the HTC Desire 610 is great for those who listen to music on their phone and the Honor 6 has the best camera.
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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