So, you’ve decided you need a new cheap phone. Should you pick a contract or pay as you go? Think about how much you’re willing to spend and whether you want a feature phone or a cheap smartphone. Whatever your needs, we’ve got you covered
This table has been sorted to display the lowest total price deals first.
|Product name||Upfront cost||Minutes||Texts||Data||Monthly cost|
|Samsung Galaxy A51 128GB||£49||Unlimited||Unlimited||100GB||£17 /month|
|Apple iPhone XR 64GB||£179.99||Unlimited||Unlimited||6GB||£16 /month|
|Samsung Galaxy A51 128GB||£24.99||Unlimited||Unlimited||100GB||£19 /month|
|Google Pixel 4a 128GB||Free||Unlimited||Unlimited||20GB||£19.99 /month|
|Samsung Galaxy A51 128GB||£84.99||Unlimited||Unlimited||100GB||£16 /month|
|Apple iPhone SE 64GB||Free||5000||5000||3GB||£19.99 /month|
|Samsung Galaxy A51 128GB||Free||Unlimited||Unlimited||100GB||£20 /month|
|Apple iPhone SE 64GB||£60||5000||5000||3GB||£18.32 /month|
|Samsung Galaxy A51 128GB||£44.99||Unlimited||Unlimited||100GB||£18 /month|
|Apple iPhone SE 64GB||£120||5000||5000||3GB||£16.66 /month|
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The mobile phone market can be intimidating when you’re on the hunt for a new phone, especially if you’re not up on the latest phone trends. The latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy models usually take centre stage on most provider websites. But there are lots of other smartphone brands that make high-end handsets without the premium price tag.
A fantastic choice for those who want cheap mobile phones for youngsters or simply a basic handset, Alcatel offers highly affordable phones. Simple and neat in design as well as easy to use, Alcatel models are the ideal first smartphone for teens and technophobes alike. Although, we would say that the likes of OnePlus and Nokia are currently making similar priced and better-looking handsets.
Although the latest iPhones can be pricey, it’s worth remembering that not all Apple and Samsung phones come with a huge price tag. If you’re happy to step back in time when it comes to handsets, older models become more and more affordable with each new release. Apple, for instance, has started a Mini range of its products as well as the cheaper SE and XR handsets.
A specialist mobile phone brand, Doro creates handsets designed for the elderly. Key elements of any Doro model are the large, easy-to-read buttons and its classic flip-phone options. Being significantly stripped back in terms of extras, Doro leads the way for cheap mobile phones if a simple handset is all you need. This is a brand pitched at the older generation and serves its purpose well.
The Google phone made quite a stir when it came out. Now in its fourth generation, the Google Pixel phone doesn’t quite knock the iPhone or the Samsung from their top perches, but it doesn’t need to. Designed for excellent user experience and drawing on everything Google does best, if you want a phone that’s a fantastic piece of all-round technology, the Pixel might be for you.
That said, the Google phone, while affordable compared to other phones that offer similar specs, may still be on the higher end of your budget. There are different versions of the Pixel though and it remains one of the more affordable phone ranges, offering good specs - especially in the camera department.
Huawei may have been on the receiving end of negative press coverage when it comes to operating systems, but this hasn’t stopped its phones from speaking for themselves and maintaining a top spot in the UK mobile market.
Depending on your model, you can find Huawei phone deals that suit any budget, and you’ll get a design, camera setup and overall specs that feel premium. Be warned, though: Google services are currently unavailable on these devices.
This is a brand that has gone from strength to strength in recent years, offering low-cost handsets that are packed with features. Originally a subsidiary of Huawei, in November 2020 the brand was sold (thanks to the on-going US issues) so it will be interesting to see what happens next. Currently, though, their mobile phone crop is excellent value for money.
Once the king of the mobile, Nokia may have lost its edge with the advent of the smartphone. But the brand is still around and offers some great options for affordable mobiles, including some nostalgic re-releases. If you are looking for cheap feature phones, then Nokia is always a good place to start.
Samsung has made some fantastic in-roads into the entry level handset market. The Samsung A-range is packed with decent phones at a lower price. Many of them look just like their higher priced bedfellows, it’s just the specs and power that have been reduced.
Sony has long been a leading name in the world of tech. And while it doesn’t necessarily get the recognition for its smartphone offerings, it still makes some very impressive handsets. Its top smartphone line, Xperia, serves as an affordable alternative to higher-end phones, while still delivering on sleek design, excellent camera function and healthy storage space. Even its lower cost options have high-value specs, such as 21:9 ratio screens and the like.
Viewed by some as a rival to Huawei, OnePlus is a Chinese brand that comes with an air of exclusivity. You won’t find them everywhere. A very solid alternative to any of the high-end phones, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Its OnePlus Nord handset proved to everyone that OnePlus does low cost extremely well. We’re expecting many more reasonably priced handsets from the company over the coming years.
Oppo is another brand to look out for. Its subsidiary is OnePlus so it has a good footing in the mobile phone market with a range that goes from high end to sub-£99. Its phones are smart looking and usually have decent camera specs throughout the price ranges.
Another Chinese manufacturer that excels at making cheap phones that take on much more expensive rivals. It’s worth looking out for its Poco range of smartphones. Originally a separate subsidiary the two brands sometimes join forces to create value for money handsets.
Just as the most premium phones are usually locked into a pay monthly phone deal, you may find that the cheap mobile phones on offer come only as pay as you go but there are some cheap phone contracts out there. See below for a quick summary on the leading providers and what sort of deals you can expect:
O2 offers a full spectrum of handsets though, as a leading network, it does concentrate more on high-end brands. That said, you can take that as reassurance that even its cheapest phones are quality options.
On the lower end of the scale for its pay monthly phones, you can find affordably priced handsets from Huawei and Doro. If you choose to pay as you go, Motorola, Alcatel and Nokia are added to the mix.
Similar to O2, Vodafone gives centre stage to higher-end phones, but you can still find some bargains. Pay monthly phones include Nokia, Huawei and Motorola. There’s also the very cheap Vodafone Smart, its own brand of smartphone that does everything you need a simple phone to do and looks sleek while doing it.
Pay as you go offers a strong variety of brands that you may struggle to find elsewhere, including IMO, Alcatel, Mobiwire, ZTE and super-durable CAT, all at very affordable prices.
Another leading network, EE has all the top-end phones front and centre, but on the lower end of the budget you can still find Motorola, Huawei, Doro and Sony up for grabs. Pay as you go phones include Alcatel, Oppo, Mobiwire and IMO, some of which will cost you less than a weekly grocery bill.
Three has all the usual top brands, but also offers Xiaomi, OnePlus, Google and Nokia as pay monthly options. Its OnePlus options are particularly extensive, considering that you may not be able to find a single model available with other retailers. Its PAYG range includes Nokia and Samsung.
While not a major network or one of the big high street names, it’s worth mentioning giffgaff, as it’s well known for its value for money and variety of cheap mobile phones. giffgaff has a somewhat unique business model as its customer service is handled online. giffgaff passes the savings onto the customer, which means a lot of its handsets end up being cheaper than elsewhere. That said, they also tend to move fast, so you’ll need to be quick if you spot something you like.
Generally, the less features a phone has, the cheaper it is. While the vast majority of modern phones, cheap or expensive, are smartphones, there are some feature phones (sometimes cruelly referred to as ‘dumbphones’) out there that keep prices down. There are other advantages to these phones, including:
Longer battery life without energy-draining apps
Ease of use (many use the traditional keypad)
More durable (smaller screens are less likely to crack and scratch)
Doro, Nokia, CAT and Alcatel are just some of the brands that offer feature phones. However, it’s important to remember that dumbphones often have limited connectivity that’s only intended to be used for the essentials. So if you think you’d like to get online, opt for a smartphone instead.
Still, if you want to find the cheapest possible phone, then you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal than these no-frill options.
If you’ve got a tight budget, then you’ll certainly want to consider a refurbished phone. Not only are these pre-owned phones very affordable, but if they come as ‘Like New’ they won’t have been used for more than 14 days, and that’s as close to box fresh as you can get while enjoying a significant discount.
O2, EE and Vodafone all offer ‘Like New’ phones. You could also try giffgaff who re-sell phones that have seen significantly more use-time, though also retail at much lower cost than any new phone. If you want to get your hands on a premium brand without the premium price tag, this is a great way to do it.
Like we said, there are plenty of very good brands making some very good cheap phones. Almost all modern smartphones will include a perfectly good camera, sufficient internal storage (plus the option to expand by SD card) and an operating system such as Android which will let you download all your favourite apps. If apps aren’t your thing, then you can look forward to even cheaper feature phones that do the bare minimum for the minimum price.
"I got a mobile deal with 100gb of data, unlimited min and texts, S10 phone for just 19.99 upfront and at just 25 a month. yes 25. nobody could get near it at that price."
Mikey P, TrustPilot
With all that in mind, you shouldn’t judge any deal based purely on one thing. While you might have found an incredibly cheap PAYG deal, consider whether it’s actually value for money. Maybe you don’t spend anything upfront but will be spending £20 a month on top-ups. In that case, you should consider a pay monthly contract of the same value.
Pay monthly customers often get nice extras like perks, free entertainment options like Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Netflix and, depending on your network, warranty and phone MOTs to keep your handset in good condition. Keep an open mind and weigh up what counts as true value, not just what might be an immediate saving.
A quick search for ‘cheap phone’ will score hundreds of results and you’re sure to come across some deals that are very tempting, but caution is advised. You probably shouldn’t go for a phone from a brand that you’ve never heard of.
Often, online retailers and auction sites will have these generic models for sale at costs that lure in customers. These phones are unlikely to be designed for optimum performance or longevity, so you’ll find yourself needing another phone in no time. There is also no guarantee of security when it comes to the operating systems of these phones. Always go to a reputable outlet like any of the above suppliers so you can buy in confidence.
Yes, and this is probably the cheapest solution because you already own the handset! Phones will continue to work as normal once your contract is up, so there is no reason you can’t keep it or pass it on to a friend or family member. That said, your phone may be locked to your network provider, so you’ll have to put in a request to unlock your phone. Once this is done, you’ll be free to get a SIM card from any network you like and use the phone as normal.