4G is becoming more accessible all the 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.
There’s no shortage of cheap Lumia handsets and most of them are impressive value for money too, with the Lumia 640 being one of the best examples of that yet.
The star of the show is perhaps its large 5.0-inch 720 x 1280 display, but its 8 megapixel camera and quad-core processor impress too.
It also comes with some generous extras in the form of a one year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Personal, which as well as giving you full access to Microsoft’s Office software also includes 1TB of OneDrive storage, which could come in handy for storing all the songs, photos and videos you can download over its 4G connection.
As with other Windows Phone 8.1 handsets you can also look forward to an update to Windows 10 Mobile once it becomes available.
The HTC Desire 620 is one of many mid-range Android smartphones 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 megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash backed up by HTC's superb Zoe camera software and it doesn't end there because it also has a front-facing 5 mega-pixel selfie camera. Music playback is also great because the Desire 620 has HTC BoomSound audio technology and that makes it the smart choice for music lovers.
HTC have also managed to include a 5-inch 720p HD display, a quad-core 1.2GHz processor and 8GB of on-board storage (expendable using microSD cards). Overall, HTC's smartphone is a very well rounded handset and a good choice, especially for those looking for a good camera or to blast out the latest tunes.
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 £49.99.
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 Xperia E3 is Sony's most affordable 4G smartphone, as it’s available for just £100.
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, while 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 £160 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 was Motorola’s most successful phone ever, so it’s no wonder the company followed it up with a second generation version.
For under £150 you get a big 5.0-inch 720p display, a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of RAM, an 8 megapixel camera, Android 5.0 Lollipop and of course 4G.
It fixes just about everything that was wrong with the original Moto G while maintaining an impressively low price. It’s a shame it doesn’t have the 64-bit Snapdragon 410 processor, but that’s a minor blot against an otherwise exceptional smartphone.
Not only has EE cornered the very bottom end of the market with the Kestrel, it’s also delivered upper mid-range specs at a lower mid-range price with the Harrier.
For around £200 you get a big 5.2-inch 1080 x 1920 screen, a 13 megapixel camera and an octa-core processor, so it packs a serious punch for not a huge amount of money.
It’s still one of the most expensive phones on this list but it’s undeniably good value, especially as EE has ensured it supports Cat.4 LTE, so it’s fully prepared to make the most of EE’s double speed network.
There aren’t really even any cut corners to speak of, the design is solid, it has 16GB of storage plus a microSD card slot and a reasonable size 2500mAh battery. As with the Kestrel the main potential issue is simply that it’s only available on EE’s network.
If you’d rather plump for something that lies between the Kestrel and the Harrier you could always take a look at the £99.99 Harrier Mini.
The EE Kestrel is insane value at just £49.99, but we think you'd be better off paying a little more to get a more well-rounded device such as the Moto G, HTC Desire 620 or Microsoft Lumia 640, which are both great value smartphones.
Overall we believe that the HTC Desire 620 is the best cheap 4G phone on the market today, when factoring in value for money. The HTC Desire 620 has a great set of cameras, a stylish design and well-rounded specification, with a big screen, great software and more than enough power to boot.
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