I’ve always been told that you get what you pay for in life. If you want the best, you have to pay top whack. While this might be true for things like holidays, restaurants and toilet paper, it’s not always the case for smartphones. There’s a growing list of quality cheap smartphones on the market that will do just as good a job as some of the higher-end handsets.
The main differences between smartphones at either end of the price scale are in their spec. If you pay more, you’ll get a more powerful processor, a bigger screen, a camera with higher resolution and more internal memory.
However these more expensive smartphones will still do the same job as their cheaper cousins. They still house apps, take photographs, send and receive emails, play music and video and let you check Facebook.
So if you’re on a budget, or just looking for a great handset that won’t cost you the world, we’ve put together a list of the best cheap smartphones available today.
Mobilephones.com has the Samsung Galaxy Ace from £75 pay as you go or free on a £10.50 a month contract.
Samsung’s range of smartphones has grown considerably over the last few years, both at the top and bottom end of the price range. Despite this, the quality of their ‘introductory range’ of mobile phones remains high. The Samsung Galaxy Ace is a perfect example of a quality handset without having to break the bank.
Launched in January 2011 and with a 3.5-inch screen (same size as the iPhone 4S), the Samsung Galaxy Ace is a lightweight, budget Android smartphone that’s not light on features. Running with an 800MHz ARM 11 processor and 2GB of on-board memory that can grow up to 32GB by way of microSD, this handset is designed more for the casual user.
A 5MP camera sits on board, with autofocus, LED flash as well as geo-tagging and face detection. While there is no forward-facing camera, there is the capability to record video. Apps can be downloaded from Google’s Play store, so integration with Facebook, YouTube alongside Google’s other apps is seamless.
Mobilephones.com has the HTC Desire C from £99.50 pay as you go or free on a £10.50 a month contract.
With its smooth curves and uncomplicated facia, the Desire C is an unmistakable HTC phone. Debuting in June 2012, the Desire C is HTC’s introductory level smartphone, designed to complement the One range of handsets launched earlier in the year.
Weighing in at just 100g, this 3.5-inch touchscreen phone is enhanced by HTC’s array of top notch features. On board is HTC’s market-leading Beats Audio technology, as well as a 5MP camera, optional NFC and all the goodies and Apps you’d expect from an Android smartphone.
As a budget smartphone, this runs with a 600MHz processor, which is less than half the power of HTC’s flagship One X handset. However as the phone is a stripped down version, extra power isn’t required and the phone runs quickly without noticeable lag.
Mobilephones.com has the Sony Xperia Tipo from £79.95 pay as you go or free on a £10.50 a month contract.
This is described by Sony as a hassle-free Android smartphone, which is a lovely way of thinking about any phone. Launched in June 2012, the Xperia Tipo is a beautifully designed mini smartphone available in four rather snazzy colours.
The 3.2-inch touchscreen makes this a slightly smaller offering over the HTC Desire C and Samsung Galaxy Ace, although this does allow for a slightly longer battery life. The rear-facing 3.2MP camera has 4x digital zoom and also records video, and again, this is a slight downgrade on the Samsung and HTC, which both sport 5MP shooters.
Despite these inferior specs, the Tipo does offer full access to the Google Play store and the opportunity to download apps and therefore connect to Facebook, Instagram as well as your other favourites.
One neat addition on the Sony Xperia Tipo is that it allows you to monitor your data usage on screen, rather than have that nasty wait for your phone bill. With this app, you can set limits for the amount of data you want to use each time you connect to the internet via the browser, an app or online game.
Mobilephones.com has the Nokia Lumia 800 from £159.95 on pay as you go or free on a £10.50 a month contract.
When this phone was first announced in October 2011, it cost over £400 on Pay As You Go. However with the launch of the Nokia Lumia 920 in November, the price of the 800 model has dropped quite dramatically, ensuring this makes the list of cheap smartphones.
The Nokia Lumia 800 was the company’s first smartphone to run on their new Windows Phone Operating System, making it their flagship model and quite a big deal in their eyes. This means that it has first rate build quality and features that Nokia hoped would catapult it to the smartphone big league.
The reason it didn’t quite make it isn’t due to the quality of the phone.
Boasting a 3.7-inch touchscreen powered by a 1.4GHz Scorpion processor, the Lumia 800 is the most powerful phone on this list. The 8MP rear-facing camera with Carl Zeiss optics also makes this the highest quality snapper for a budget smartphone.
Available in a range of colours including magenta and the instantly recognisable cyan (pictured above), perhaps the only drawback of the Lumia 800 it doesn’t have as many apps as an Android or iPhone. However as Microsoft invests more into the growth of Windows Phone, this is going to grow.
Written by Damian Carvill