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Best Cheap Smartphones For Under £100

By Simon Thomas on 15th December 2014


UPDATED: Our list of the best budget smartphones available to buy with a budget of £100

A couple of years ago you had to fork out a significant amount to get your hands on a phone with a decent display, good performance and the ability to browse the internet. But the price of smartphones has decreased rapidly in recent times, meaning there are some true bargains to be had.

We’ve picked out the top 6 best smartphones that are priced under £100 (SIM-Free or on Pay As You Go). You’ll be pretty amazed at what you can get your for your money. All the mobiles listed are available to buy in the UK and we’ll continue to update our list throughout 2014.

Anyway, enough talk and on with our list of the best smartphones available for under £100.

Nokia Lumia 530 – Best For Saving Money (£60)

Best Cheap Smartphones - Nokia Lumia 530

All of these phones are cheap, but at just £60 the Nokia Lumia 530 is almost unbelievably affordable. For that money you get a 4.0 inch 480 x 854 display with a pixel density of 245 pixels per inch for clear visuals, a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 200 processor and 512MB of RAM, so it’s a surprisingly well specced device.

It’s solidly built too, with a colourful plastic shell which you can swap out if you ever feel like a change. There’s no 4G, just a 5 megapixel camera and only 4GB of storage, but there’s a microSD card slot too so you can easily expand on that and it runs Windows Phone 8.1 so you can get brand new features like Cortana and Action Centre without having to spend much money.

Moto E – For Android on a budget (£79)

Best Cheap Smartphones - Moto E

Motorola’s Moto G sold by the truck load, thanks to a combination of good specs and a low price tag. Now the company is trying to repeat the trick with the even cheaper Moto E.

At just £79 it’s incredibly affordable but it’s surprisingly good too, with a 4.3 inch 540 x 960 screen with a pixel density of 256 pixels per inch, a 1.2GHz dual core Snapdragon 200 processor and 1GB of RAM.

It also has a fairly attractive, albeit plastic design and feels solidly built. Plus it’s water resistant so it can take a splash and while it only has 4GB of built in storage there’s also a microSD card slot. The 5 megapixel camera is pretty poor and it lacks advanced features like 4G and NFC, but it’s a reliable smartphone with solid performance for under £100.  

Nokia Lumia 635 – For Windows Phone Lovers (£99)

Best Cheap Smartphones - Nokia Lumia 735

The long line of high quality yet affordable Lumia’s has arguably reached its peak with the Nokia Lumia 635.

This is essentially a tweaked version of the Nokia Lumia 630, adding 4G connectivity and changing from a matte plastic cover to a more eye-catching glossy one.

Other than that it’s the same as that already impressive handset, with a clear 4.5-inch 480 x 854 IPS LCD display, a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of storage, a microSD card slot, an 1830 mAh battery and a 5 megapixel camera.

Combined with the lightweight and sleek Windows Phone 8.1 operating system that leaves it with slick performance and you can get all that for just £99, or if you can live without 4G you could always opt for the Lumia 630 and save yourself a tenner.

Sony Xperia E1 – Best For Music Fans (£90)

Best Cheap Smartphones - Sony Xperia E1The Sony Xperia E1 doesn’t do much to stand out. It’s a plastic block which has none of the premium design features found on most Xperia handsets. But it’s solidly built and with just a 4.0 inch screen it’s one of the most pocket-friendly smartphones around.

That’s not the only reason it’s worth considering though, as it also has a 100Db speaker for loud, clear audio quality and a dedicated Walkman button so you’re never far from your music.

Under the hood there’s a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor and 512MB of RAM, so it should be up to the task of carrying out anything you could expect from a smartphone.

With a 480 x 800 display it manages a reasonable pixel density of 233 pixels per inch too and while it only has a 3.2 megapixel camera Sony has included a whole bunch of modes and filters to play with, so it’s easy to get creative with your photography.

It might not be the most exciting phone on the planet but it covers the basics, delivers a music-centric experience and will fit in even the smallest of pockets, all for just around £90. Bear in mind though that the Xperia E3 will be here soon and there’s a chance that will be less than £100 too. If it is we’ll be sure to update the list.

EE Kestrel – For superfast data

Best Cheap Smartphones - EE Kestrel

We might be a 3G focused site, but in recommending the EE Kestrel we can’t miss highlighting its best feature- the fact that at £99 it’s one of the cheapest ways to get 4G on a smartphone.

That’s not all it’s got going for it though. We could also mention the 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM, which makes it one of the most powerful low-end phones around.

Or how about its slim 7.85mm build and large 4.5 inch 540 x 960 LCD display, with a pixel density of 245 pixels per inch. It even supports microSD cards to supplement the 8GB of storage that are built in. Our EE Kestrel review concluded that “this is a cracking smartphone that proves that own-brand devices should not be dismissed out of hand. And with a price tag of only £99, it has set the standard for budget 4G handsets.”

Motorola Moto G – Solid all-rounder (£120)

Best Cheap Smartphones - Moto G

The Moto G is perhaps the best budget smartphone on the planet. With starting prices of £120 it comes in at just over £100 but it often pops up on deals for around £100, so keep your eyes peeled.

In any case it’s well worth the extra, as with a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM it’s a snappy performer, while its 4.5 inch 720 x 1280 IPS LCD display is both big and high quality as low end phones go, with a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch.

There are other good things to say about it too. It runs the latest version of Android, has a capable 5 megapixel camera and an attractive build and with 8GB of storage (or more if you pay more) it’s not as limited as some cheap phones.

It’s since been superseded by a 4G version and 2nd generation Moto G with a larger screen and they’re great options too but they will stretch your budget even further.

It may not be the best at anything but it does everything well. Our Motorola Moto G review concluded that “for such a low price the Moto G is an amazing achievement and it’s easily the best value smartphone available.”

Vodafone Smart 4 Power – For a Big Battery (£79)

Best Cheap Smartphones - Vodafone Smart Power 4

Not content with just providing SIM cards and contracts, Vodafone also makes own-brand handsets and the Smart 4 Power is one of its best yet, combining an affordable price tag with surprisingly impressive specs.

The highlight is arguably its large 3000 mAh battery, delivering up to two days of life with moderate use. That’s well above average for any smartphone, let alone a budget one, so it’s a great choice for power users.

It also has a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM so it’s fairly powerful and it has a large 5.0-inch 540 x 960 screen. Its 5 megapixel camera gets the job done and while it only has 4GB of storage it also has a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 32GB. It even supports 4G.

The Vodafone Smart 4 Power isn’t the most stylish phone around with a plain plastic build, but it’s excellent value and has a battery that just keeps on going.

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