Best Cheap 4G Phones: Five of the best

 

Best Cheap 4G Phones

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 5 of the best affordable 4G phones.


Google Nexus 5 (£299) – High end 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 it has the latest version of Android (4.4.2) and is likely to get subsequent updates on day one.


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.

Checkout our Google Nexus 5 Review.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 (£165) – Mid-range thrills

Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
Samsung has so many different handsets that it’s hard to keep track of them all, but the Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 sits around the lower middle end of its line-up. With a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM it’s nowhere near the powerhouse the Nexus 5 is, but at just around £165 it doesn’t need to be.


Its 4 inch 480 x 800 display is a decent size and has a reasonable pixel density of 233 pixels per inch and while it only comes with 8GB of storage it also has a microSD card slot, so it’s easy to expand that. It also has a 5 megapixel camera, which isn’t bad for the price. The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 isn’t much to look at with its bland plastic shell, it also isn’t particularly slim at 9.8mm and it’s running Android 4.2, which is a little outdated now, but it’s a reliable performer and excellent value for money.

Sony Xperia SP (£249.99) – Slick and stylish

Sony Xperia SP
If you’re hungry for style then consider the Sony Xperia SP. The back might be plastic but it has an attractive, curved aluminium frame. Its specs aren’t bad either, as it has a 1.7 GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. While the screen is big and bold, at 4.6 inches with a 720 x 1280 resolution and 319 pixels per inch.


Even the camera is decent, coming in at 8 megapixels and perfectly capable of taking some pleasing photos. Plus the phone has NFC and 4G LTE. If there’s anywhere that the Sony Xperia SP does disappoint a little it’s in the storage, which is limited to 8GB (though there is a microSD card slot) and the battery life could also be better, plus it’s slightly fat and heavy at 10mm thick and 155g, but for £179.99 this is a bargain.

Checkout our Sony Xperia SP Review

Nokia Lumia 625 (£179.99) – Windows Phone 8 on the cheap

Nokia Lumia 625
While most cheap 4G phones run Android, if you prefer Windows Phone 8 you still have at least one option. The Nokia Lumia 625 has a large 4.7 inch 480 x 800 display with a pixel density of 199 ppi. So it’s not the sharpest screen we’ve seen but it’s adequate.


The build is much like most other Lumia’s, which is to say colourful and plastic and at 159g it’s a heavy beast, while under the hood there’s a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and 512MB of RAM, which isn’t much but it’s enough to keep the phone running fairly smoothly. It also has 8GB of storage, a micro SD card slot and a 5 megapixel camera, but really the main selling points of the Lumia 625 are the fact that it has 4G and a big screen without costing very much.

Checkout our Nokia Lumia 625 Review

Alcatel One Touch Idol S (£129.99) – Cheap and cheerful

Alcatel One Touch Idol S


At a mere £129.99 the Alcatel One Touch Idol S is just about the cheapest 4G phone you can buy. But it’s better than you might expect for something so cheap. It has a big 4.7 inch 720 x 1280 screen with a pretty decent 312 pixels per inch.


It’s also rocking a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM and has an 8 megapixel camera, which can take some reasonable photos. Its real Achilles heel is its storage, as there’s only 4GB of built in memory, which most users would fill in no time, but it does have a microSD card slot, so that’s not the catastrophe that it could have been.


It’s not much to look at either, just a fairly non-descript plastic rectangle and at only 110g it feels off-puttingly light, almost like a toy in fact, though at just 7.4mm thick it’s surprisingly slim. In any case a 4G handset with a dual-core processor and a 720p screen for just £129.99 is not to be sneered at.

Conclusion


So there you have it, five 4G phones that you can pick up without breaking the bank. The Google Nexus 5 is undoubtedly the best of the bunch but at £299 it’s not the most affordable. With that in mind the best all-rounder and the test winner is the Sony Xperia SP. It’s not perfect but with a premium build, solid specs, a good camera and a great screen for under £200 it’s hard to say no to.

 

Want to find out about the best 4G phones overall?

View our buying guides


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By Kevin Thomas on 03rd February, 2014


Tags: Buyers Guides4G PhonesGoogle Nexus 5Samsung Galaxy Ace 3Nokia Lumia 625Sony Xperia SP


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