cheap simple mobile phones

The best simple mobiles make light work of tasks such as making calls, sending text messages and saving numbers. What’s more, they have terrific battery life and let you have clear phone conversations even when you’re surrounded by noise.With so many options available, we’ve rounded up the best cheap simple mobile phones, cheap simple pay as you go mobile phones and where to buy cheap and simple mobile phones to save you some time.

cheap simple mobile phones

1. Nokia 3310

Why we like it: With a stunning battery life, Snake, and classic texting, this one is a rollicking retro ride 

Price: £49.99, Carphone Warehouse

Nokia 3310 remake basic phone
The new Nokia 3310s are bolder and brighter than ever with a range of cool colours to choose from CREDIT: NOKIA/AXICOM

The Nokia 3310 was my first ever phone, a hand-me-down from my older brother when he got a Motorola Razr. As an 10-year-old, I thought it was basically the coolest thing I’d ever owned.

14 years later, lots has changed. This new version, which launched in 2017, is significantly skinnier; it comes in a few more colours too.

The dull navy blue of the original has been replaced with glossy neon red and yellow designs (or more muted black and grey if you’re feeling serious). That plastic body feels a little less durable than the original 3310 – AKA ‘The Brick – which was famous for its cockroach-like ability to survive any drop, spill, or crush you could subject it to. There’s also a headphone jack, which is great but might make the phone a little less dust proof than the original. On the plus side, the plastic screen feels significantly more hard-wearing than the touchscreen glass on an iPhone.

Despite the phone itself feeling a little less robust than the original, the battery life is still as long as you remember. Longer, in fact. The original 3310’s battery would last about a week; this new incarnation is ready to party for a full month. You read that right: 31 days. Oh the joy!

Speaking of the screen, it’s in glorious technicolour this time around. It’s also significantly bigger than the original, taking up the majority of the phone’s upper half. As for the keypad, it’s almost a carbon-copy of the original – so, yes, you press the ‘7’ key four times to get an ‘s’ when texting. Those were the days.

In terms of software, there’s actually a surprising amount of functionality on offer. A two megapixel camera can take photos and record video. Obviously you’re not looking at anything close to the quality of the latest products, but they’ll suffice if you just want a quick snapshot.

The original Nokia 3310 simple phone
The original Nokia 3310

You can also load a microSD card to play your music through the phone. And there’s the ability to listen to the radio, which is a nice touch.

If, like me, the original Nokia 3310 represented your first phone, then this new device is probably closer to how you remember your second or third device in terms of features. The whole thing feels very 2008 – not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just quite a step up from the original 3310. Not so great for the nostalgia factor, but in general we’re talking about improvements, not criticisms.

And actually, the nostalgia issue is far from terminal, for one simple reason: this updated Nokia 3310 comes with snake. Snake! Glory be.

Overall, the new 3310 is a quirky delight for those who are sick of the smartphone tyranny. It dials you out of the digital maelstrom – but at the same time has just enough functionality to make you feel in touch with the world. It’s not quite the nostalgia trip it sells itself as, but the new 3310 is a worthy successor to the original phone.

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2. The Light Phone

Why we like it: No one else has ever dared to strip back mobiles quite so much

Price: $350, Light Phone (plus shipping from the USA)

The Light Phone basic phones
The Light Phone was a concept originally shared on Kickstarter where it raised 200 per cent of its original funding target

After raising over £320,000 in a 2015 Kickstarter campaign, the Light Phone has become something of a legend in the dumbphone hall of fame. While devices like the newly remade Nokia 3310 and 8110 are certainly dumber than the average smartphone, they’re positively genius compared to this.

Let’s start with the look. The Light Phone takes its minimalist aesthetic to the extreme. The device comes in two colours: white and night (black). Both are credit card sized (though a little fatter – about four cards thick). There’s an ‘on’ button at the top, and a teeny tiny slider on the side to lock the device, a mic and charging port on the bottom and a speaker on the top. And that’s it. There’s not even a screen.

When you press the power button, illuminated numbers appear on the device’s face. Tap those and press the triangle key to dial. Press ‘X’ to hang up.

There’s haptic feedback on the keys, which is a nice feature, but otherwise there’s very little going on. It’s a slim device that certainly looks the part, and will actually fit in your wallet – but on the downside, it does feel a little odd in the hand because it’s so small.

You’ll have no camera, no music, no internet, no GPS, no games, no social media. Heck, even texting is off the menu. This device takes and receives calls and that is it. That’s the only thing it can do.

The Light Phone doesn’t even come in a box. It arrives in an art book, whose middle is hollowed out to accommodate the phone and a micro USB charger.

The only thing you’ll need to do to get the phone set up is plug in a Nano SIM card card. Then you’re good to go.

Given that making and receiving calls is literally all this device can do, there’s not a lot else to say. There is an online app where you can set up to nine speed dial contacts which are accessed by with a long press on the corresponding button.

The Light Phone can be used in conjunction with your smartphone, but it also functions as your primary device. And it does work as a standalone product – it’s just very feature-free. If you’re the type of person saying they want a phone that’s just a phone, well, this device will either prove you right in your convictions or remind you how useful all those added features can be. Either way, it’s a bold choice to attempt something that no one else seems to have the nerve for. 

If you like the concept but you’re looking for something a tiny bit smarter, Light Phone’s second iteration is planned to launch in 2019. The Light 2 is currently funding on Indiegogo and promises features including texting (with a QWERTY keyboard), directions, alarm clocks, and a contact list. The brand is also considering including GPS directions, music, voice commands, a calculator and dictionary, and perhaps a weather app. That device has raised funding of over £1.4m so hopefully it shouldn’t be too long before we get to see it firsthand.

As it stands, it’s worth noting that demand for the original Light Phone seems to be outstripping supply, so you may struggle to actually find one up for sale. 

3. Nokia 8110

Why we like it: An iconic design with some useful added ‘smart’ features

Price: £54.10, Amazon

Nokia 8110 remake basic phone
The original 8110 was colloquially known as the ‘banana phone’ and this remake leans into that heritage with a bold yellow design

Purely in terms of looks, the new Nokia 8110 is one of my favourite phones of the last ten years. The original version was known as the ‘banana phone’ on account of its slightly convex spine. The new one is available is bright banana yellow and definitely lives up to that moniker.

The new Nokia 8110 is the class clown. It’s a silly device, an attention seeker; pull it out of your pocket and it’s sure to become the centre of attention. But like so many class clowns, it’s also a lot smarter than it wants anyone to know.

Sure, this device might be selling itself as a basic phone but, let’s be honest, it’s actually a smartphone without a touch screen. With apps including YouTube, Google Maps, and Google Assistant, plus Chrome and another mobile browser, it can easily do what most smartphones can manage, albeit with fewer apps.

Speaking of apps, there is a rudimentary app store on the device. It’s mostly just games but you can also download a weather app and Twitter too (rumour has it that Whatsapp is coming soon).

All of this works well and exactly as you’d expect it to, but it does rather beg the question: what is the point of this phone? People buy dumbphones because they want to go off grid, or they’re sick of the constant notifications, or because social media is getting too much. But here we have a dumbphone which won’t help with any of those problems. So if this is your dumbphone of choice, why buy it at all?

It sits in an uncomfortable middle ground where it’s not nearly good enough to compete with the most basic smartphones, but it’s not ‘dumb’ enough to help solve any of the problems people associate with those devices.

Original Nokia 8110 Matrix Phone
The original Nokia 8110 was made famous by its appearance in The Matrix CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Even so, there are a few compelling reasons to consider the new 8110. The battery life is very good. I charged it one week before I came to write this and the battery is currently sitting at 49pc. Admittedly I haven’t used it that much but it’s definitely something to consider if you’re camping or at a festival and won’t have access to a charger.

There’s also two sim card slots, if you’re the type who wants to have multiple numbers for one phone. Not too many phones have that feature these days. 

Ultimately, the new Nokia 8110 can do a lot. Just be aware that you’re getting a smarter device than you might be expecting.

(Also, most importantly, Snake is on the Nokia 8110 but on this version the snake can move in any direction and isn’t bound to a grid by default – an egregious insult to the original game’s legacy!)

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4. Doro 6620

Price: £52.96, Amazon 

Doro simple flip phone

A simple phone made for seniors, the Doro 6620 is very easy to understand by design. It’s a simple flip phone with big buttons that are easy to read. Likewise, the screen is well-lit and all the fonts are large. Ideal for those who are partially-sighted or just prone to forgetting glasses. 

The other great design feature to set family members’ minds at ease is a simple distress button. It’s located on the back of the phone’s chassis so there’s no need to worry about accidentally hitting it while texting or anything. When pushed, it’ll automatically call selected contacts as well as send each of them a text and the phone’s GPS coordinates. 

I’m aware that this might sound like it’s only useful for older folks, but for any backpackers or people who don’t know when they’ll be near a charger anytime soon, it might be worth investing in. The battery life, on standby, is an incredible 380 hours – nearly 16 days. Imagine if an iPhone could last that long… 

By virtue of it being a simple phone, there isn’t a huge amount left to talk about with the Doro. It’s got phone-calling, texting, weather, and even a rudimentary camera included, plus FM radio, a calculator, and even games (Snake fans will be pleased). Don’t expect internet connection or anything too highfalutin – but it does what it aims to and does it well. 

I also tried dropping it, hurling it and stamping on it and it had no scratches on it, which is great to see. Again imagine if an iPhone was like that.

Arguably my favourite feature was a little dock which came with the device. It is a charger but, probably more importantly, it’s just a handy place for you to put down your phone so you can stop worrying about where you left it. Not bad at all! 

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5. Alba Flip Mobile Phone

Price: £24.95, Ebay

Alba Flip Mobile
The Alba Flip Mobile is simple and easy to understand even for the most technophobic users CREDIT: ALBA

Probably the truest dumbphone that I tested, the Alba Flip fits right between the borderline-brain-dead dumbness of the Light Phone and the smarter-than-you’d-think trickery of the Nokia remakes. Plus, it’s a flip phone, which you’ve got to love. 

The Alba Flip is not designed to be a basic phone. Alba are a brand designed for those who struggle with conventional mobile phones, either through technophobia or because of visual impairments. Here you’ll find the buttons are big and everything is as uncomplicated as it possibly can be. There are also shortcut buttons that might be helpful for elderly users who are unfamiliar with mobile phones. There are torch, FM radio, and SOS buttons just above the dial pad.

Aside from that, everything is as you’d expect. You can place calls, send texts, store contacts, and even take terrible-quality photographs with the 0.3MP cameras (which can’t record video, if you were wondering.) For those with a bit more technical know-how, you can plug in a microSD card with music on it to listen through the phone.

One odd choice is that opening the flip phone isn’t enough to answer any calls you receive. You actually have to open it and then press a button. Is it a deal-breaker? No. Does it take away a bit of that throwback feeling? Kinda.

As with all of these devices, the battery life is excellent. You should get about a week and a half from a single charge (depending on usage, obviously.) Speaking of charging, it comes with a dock! In an age where most phones charge with nothing but a micro USB, seeing a mobile phone dock out in the wild is rare and gives a very retro feel. It’s probably also helpful for those who are wont to lose their devices frequently.

Look, you won’t pay much for this device, and you won’t get much from it. If you really struggle with mobile phones this one is good enough. It feels cheap and disposable, but it serves its purpose. If you’re even slightly tech savvy, do yourself a favour and get a Nokia.

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6. Cat B35 Phone

Price: £94, Amazon 

Cat B35 basic phone
The Cat B35 is a seriously rugged phone which should easily survive anything you can put it through CREDIT: CAT

The first thing you’ll note about the Cat B35 is that it is rugged. While the top of the range smartphones are getting slimmer and slimmer, the Cat B35 is proudly a big device with a thick plastic shell.

To be fair, it’s exactly the phone you’d expect a company best known for its tractors and bulldozers, and could probably survive being run over by one too. For those who work in an industrial setting or simply find themselves out and about in the great outdoors a lot, that ruggedness could definitely come in handy.

Let’s start with the software, as there isn’t too much to say on that. The B35 runs on KaiOS, the same one as Nokia’s dumb phones, so you’re getting a fairly similar experience to what I’ve already described on the aforementioned devices, albeit with fewer apps. Perhaps Cat saw fit to encourage its users to focus on work rather than playing Snake.

Like many of the other phones in this guide, the Cat B35 has a 2MP camera on board which can record photos and videos. It also has GPS, a voice recorder, and you can connect it to your computer with the microUSB which comes in the box to add music to the device. It does have a headphone jack too which is helpful.

The device is dustproof and waterproof (up to 1.2m for 35 minutes) and can survive being dropped from some serious heights. I chucked it off the balcony at the Telegraph office which is about 5-6m off the floor and the phone survived with nary a scratch on it. Admittedly it was dropped onto carpet, so it may not survive a fall from that height onto a harder surface. According to Cat, it can be dropped 1.8m onto concrete before any effects become visible. Apparently it can also survive extreme temperatures, but as September afternoons in London aren’t known for their unusual temperatures, I couldn’t test this myself. Safe to say though, it should be able to survive the vast majority of what you put it through.

The only problem with this durability is that all the ports on the phone are covered by thick caps which can be slightly difficult to budge making it a bit annoying when you just want to plug some headphones in or connect your charger. It’s not a dealbreaker, and it will help your phone keep dust out, but it’s a bit of an annoyance.

Another slightly irksome feature is the bright LED torch. As a torch, it works absolutely fine, the trouble comes with the way of accessing it. You turn it on and off with a long press on the direction pad. So far, so good. However, it will only turn on when the phone’s home screen is on. You can’t turn the torch on with the phone in sleep mode, and you can’t open it when you’ve got an app open. If you want to use the torch while you’re watching YouTube, for example, you’d have to wake the phone, go back to the home screen, turn on the torch, then navigate back to YouTube. Is it a dealbreaker? No. But it could have been much easier. There is no point having a dedicated torch on your phone if it’s going to be that fiddly.

The battery is good although it pales in comparison to the Nokia 3310’s. It should give you 12 hours of talktime before it starts to lag.

Ultimately, if you’re buying a Cat phone, you’re buying it for the durability and the B35 pulls that off with aplomb. It’s also packed with plenty of other features for basic phone users like internet and emails. Unfortunately, Cat lets the phone down with a few poor design choices which, although you can navigate around them, do mar the experience a little.

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7. Cat B30 Phone

Price: £65.47, Amazon

Cat B30
The B30 is a pared down version of the B35, but it’s probably the purest expression of what a basic phone should be CREDIT: CAT

In terms of basic phones, the B30 is almost as basic as they come. It calls, it texts, and it does not much else. Oh sure, you can see from the feature list above that it does a few other things, but the operating system is so obtuse, you’ll have to go digging for those features and they’re absolutely not worth going out of your way to find.

Essentially, the B30 is a pared down version of the B35. It’s capable of all the same basic functions, but lacks some of the more in-depth ones such as Google Assistant, YouTube, and Google Maps. However, everything else is essentially the same. It’s just as rugged as the B35 (albeit, not as waterproof) put smaller. The torch has the same irksome foibles and isn’t quite as good as the B35’s.

The other thing worth mentioning is the lock function which is by far this phone’s most irksome feature. When you wake the phone you’re prompted to press the ‘unlock’ button and then press the ‘*’ key. Then you’ve got to wait for the prompt to disappear before you can actually do any of this. It’s just an extra step than is really necessary and irritating as a result.

I also question the inclusion of a camera. It’s technically no worse than the camera on the B35, but given the B30 has a much smaller screen, the pictures look much worse. Also, I personally know people who buy Cat phones in addition to their personal phones because they work at sensitive sites which don’t allow phones with cameras. When the camera is this bad quality and the pictures look even worse, why bother at all?

Still, despite these flaws, it’s hard not to be charmed by the Cat B30. It’s probably the purest expression of a dumbphone, a real throwback to the days of the original Nokias. It is basic but has just enough functionality bring it into the modern world. Everything you need to work, nothing else. For those looking for a basic phone to keep them away from the temptation of social media and internet browsing, this would be absolutely perfect.

Top 9 Mobile Phone Brands in the World

  1. Samsung – There’s a Samsung for everyone, from the bargain-basement J series and the excellent mid-range A series to the flagship S and Note series
  2. Apple – The iPhones are almost unmatched when it comes to hardware quality, and the company continues to set the benchmark for design
  3. Google – Despite being newcomers to the manufacturing market, Google’s recent phones are true flagship devices with market-leading features
  4. OnePlus – Continues to offer flagship features at mid-range prices, with high-end features and performance and impressive hardware
  5. Huawei – Security concerns aside, it’s impossible to deny the Chinese company makes some of the most impressive phones on the market
  6. Motorola – It’s had a hard few years, but still knows how to knock out a top quality mid-range phone
  7. Nokia – Once consigned to the smartphone graveyard, Nokia is back with a vengeance with a killer low- to mid-range lineup
  8. LG – Formerly a smartphone giant, LG’s handsets have struggled to find an identity in a crowded marketplace
  9. Sony – Another brand that’s fallen on hard times, Sony has lost the initiative on design and offers a truly baffling range of phones

The smartphones market has never been more competitive, and all of the phone brands mentioned above have some fantastic (and not so fantastic) devices to choose between.

In the table below, we’ve rounded up our top choices for the best phones you can buy at the moment across a range of top phone brands:5 out of 10

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PriceScreen sizeScreen typeScreen resolutionOperating systemBattery sizeProcessorVerizon PlansAT&T Plans
Samsung Galaxy S10 PlusSamsung Galaxy S20iPhone 11 ProiPhone 11Samsung Galaxy Note 10 PlusGoogle Pixel 4 XLSamsung Galaxy S20 UltraOppo Find X2 ProiPhone 11 Pro MaxMicrosoft Surface Duo
$849$749$999$699$1,099$899$1,399$1,350$1,099$1,399
6.46.25.86.16.86.36.96.76.55.6-inch/8.1-inch
AMOLEDAMOLEDOLEDLCDAMOLEDP-OLEDAMOLEDAMOLEDOLEDAMOLED
1440×30401440×32001125×2436828×17921440×30401440×30401440×32001440×31681242×26881800×2700
Android 10/ OneUI 2Android 10/ OneUI 2iOS 13iOS 13Android 10/ OneUI 2Android 10Android 10/ OneUI 2Android 10/ ColorOS 7.1iOS 13Android 10
4100400030463110430037005000426039693577
Snapdragon 855Snapdragon 865A13 BionicA13 BionicSnapdragon 855Snapdragon 855Snapdragon 865Snapdragon 865A13 BionicSnapdragon 855
VerizonVerizonVerizonVerizonVerizonVerizonVerizonVerizon
AT&TAT&TAT&TAT&TAT&TAT&TAT&TAT&T

We also look at the best phone brand by budget. So whether you’re looking to spend less than $300 or three times that, we’ll help you find the perfect phone.

Phone Brands Compared

No phone brand is perfect, and each comes with a set of pros and cons. Samsung phones have great hardware, but sometimes have issues when it comes to Android and its own UI. Apple, by contrast, has fantastic integration between hardware and its own operating system, but its phones are notoriously expensive.

Let’s take an in-depth look at each phone brand:

Samsung Phones

The Korean brand manages to produce brilliant phones across a range of prices – something few other companies can achieve. Whether you want to splurge on a wallet-busting Galaxy Note 10 or Galaxy S20, or scrimp on a Galaxy A10, there’s something for everyone.

Samsung Galaxy S20

While there are three S20 models on sale, we think the S20 is probably the best choice. It has the same 120Hz refresh rate screen tech as the other phones in the series, as well as a lot of the same camera tech. However, at $999, it is significantly cheaper than the other S20 models — the S20 Ultra, for example, costs a whopping $1,399.

Plus, it has 5G as standard. The S20 is undoubtedly one of the best phones on sale at the moment (just don’t tell Samsung it’s better than the more expensive versions).

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

The S10 Plus is arguably the best phone on sale at the moment, and certainly our favorite. Its screen is brilliant, the cameras are top-drawer, and its performance is staggering. It is expensive at $999, but it’s way better value for money that some similarly-priced phones (we’re looking at you, Apple). Read our full S10 Plus review for more.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

The Note 10 Plus is huge but brilliant phone. It has a dazzling 6.8-inch display with a small hole punch front camera. As ever with Note-series phones, it comes with a built-in stylus, but also packs four rear cameras and serious performance with a Snapdragon 855 processor and 12GB of RAM on tap. If you need a phone that could feasibly replace your laptop, this is the one to go for. Read our full Note 10 Plus review for more.

Verdict – Quality across the board means that Samsung has something for everyone

samsung galaxy s10 plus screen

Samsung Galaxy S10 PlusArguably the best phone on sale today5In Short

Pros

  • Fantastic screen
  • Great-looking design
  • Strong cameras
  • Speedy processor
  • OneUI is a huge improvement over previous Samsung skins

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Samsung can be slow to issue OS updates
  • Bixby isn’t very helpful

GalleryClick to expand

samsung galaxy s10 plus screen
samsung galaxy s10 plus screen

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Apple Phones

The one you love to hate, or indeed, love to love. Apple stands out from the crowd, being the only manufacturer on this list not to use Android. Its phones are unashamedly expensive, although that doesn’t seem to put anyone off buying one.

Not sure which iPhone to get? See our simple guide, Which iPhone Should I Buy?

Apple iPhone 11 Pro

The follow-up to the XS, the 11 Pro is (in our mind, at least) the best iPhone to buy. You get a pin-sharp 5.8-inch screen, high quality materials, and typically blistering performance. It might cost $1,000, but the 11 Pro is closer than ever to being able to justify that price. We’re big fans of its new triple rear cameras and improved front snapper, while the screen is better than ever. However, Apple is being a bit stingy offering just 64GB of storage as standard.

Apple iPhone 11

The new cheap iPhone is actually $50 cheaper than the phone it replaced. At $699, you get a 6.1-inch LCD (boo) display and the same rapid performance as the 11 Pro and Pro Max. You also get some upgraded cameras over last year’s XR and a brilliant choice of color options. Most pleasingly, though, you also get a larger, longer lasting battery compared to the XR. All told, it’s a good phone that almost everyone will be smitten with.

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

The largest of the new iPhones, the Pro Max is a bit of a beast. It has a 6.5-inch AMOLED display and a very large 3,969 mAh battery. Compared to the 11 Pro, however, there aren’t too many differences beyond the larger screen and battery. As a result, we’d probably opt for the cheaper phone. That’s not to say the 11 Pro Max is bad, just that we’d rather save $100 and have a just-as-capable phone.

Verdict – Apple iPhones may be expensive, but they’re excellent across the board

iphone 11 front

iPhone XSIt’s still great but for $100 more, we’d still choose the iPhone 11 Pro4.5In Short

Pros

  • Great cameras
  • Incredibly powerful
  • Fantastic screen

Cons

  • Still expensive
  • Might be a touch too big for some

GalleryClick to expand

iphone xs max review in hand front

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Google Phones

It sounds surprising, but the current crop of Google phones is only the company’s third attempt at making a phone itself. However, the search engine giant excels in software, and it shows in the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, with the powerful Google Assistant and excellent cameras making for awesome Android phones.

Google Pixel 4 XL

The Pixel 4 XL is, in our mind, a great phone. However, it’s proven to be one of the most controversial phones of 2019 with large bezels and decent, but not impressive battery life, and stingy storage space. Despite these concerns, it packs the best cameras of any current phone (despite the lack of ultra wide-angle lens) and remains as easy to use as all the previous Google phones.

Google Pixel 3a XL

The Pixel 3a XL is a new cheap version of a Google phone. You still get the same excellent camera quality, but it costs $420 less. The Pixel 3a XL isn’t the fastest phone on sale, and it loses the glass rear case found on the more expensive Pixel phones. But the Pixel 3a XL is still a remarkably good phone for just $479. Read our full Pixel 3a XL review to find out more.

Google Pixel 3a

Like the above, but smaller and even cheaper. Starting at just $399, the Pixel 3a is one of the best value phones on sale. The screen is smaller at 5.6-inches but it’s still a 1080p, OLED unit. Plus, you get the best phone camera on the market for a remarkably low price. Read our full Pixel 3a review here.

Verdict – Camera lovers and Android purists can rejoice, as Google Pixel delivers

google pixel 4 xl screen

Google Pixel 4 XLAn improvement over the Pixel 3 XL, but some problems remain4.5In Short

Pros

  • Stunning camera
  • Impressive screen quality with new 90Hz refresh rate
  • Snappy Face Unlock tech
  • Significantly better battery life than Pixel 3 XL and Pixel 4
  • Stock Android interface is easy to use

Cons

  • Design might not be to everyone’s taste
  • Gesture controls feel a bit gimmicky at the moment
  • No ultra wide-angle camera lens

GalleryClick to expand

google pixel 4 screen

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OnePlus Phones

Probably the first surprise entrant on the list, OnePlus has been quietly cranking out good phones for a while. It’s most recent 7 and 7 Pro models are its most expensive ever, but they’re still pretty good value compared to a lot of flagship phones.

OnePlus 7T Pro

OnePlus is famed for cramming all manner of headline-grabbing features into its phones and it’s managed to outdo itself with the 7T Pro. It has a 6.7-inch super-sharp AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling and video playback. It also packs in a Snapdragon 855+ processor and 8GB of RAM. It doesn’t end there though, with triple rear cameras, and a motorized pop-up 16Mp selfie snapper. It was also one of the first phones to use Android 10. Our only sticking point is the lack of waterproofing and the $865 price tag.

OnePlus 7T

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the 7T is an updated version of the 7 which launched back in June. However, OnePlus effectively ripped up the script and started again. You get a larger screen with that all-important 90Hz refresh rate. It gets a new ultra wide-angle lens to give three rear facing in total, plus it gets a larger battery (3,700 mAh vs 3,800 mAh) and even faster fast-charging.

OnePlus 7

The 7 might feel like an ugly duckling in the company of the 7T and 7T Pro. However, it’s still a top quality phone with an AMOLED display, Snapdragon 855, and dual rear cameras including a 48Mp lens. In light of the newer models, the 7 has also had a price cut. It now costs around $410, making it a seriously impressive piece of kit for the price. Read our full OnePlus 7 review for more.

Verdict – Compelling flagship-killer phones at lower prices

oneplus 7 screen

OnePlus 7A seriously impressive phone for the price4In Short

Pros

  • Blisteringly fast
  • Good screen
  • Great cameras
  • Faster updates than bigger manufacturers
  • Cheaper than most similarly-specced rivals

Cons

  • OnePlus phones are becoming more expensive
  • Construction feels a little bit plasticky
  • No waterproof rating

GalleryClick to expand

oneplus 7 home screen
oneplus 7 rear case

Buy from Amazon

Huawei Phones

Huawei’s had some difficult times recently. In fact, its most recent flagship phones — the Mate 30 and P40 series — were banned from being able to use Google-made apps. This means no Play Store for your favorite apps and no integration with wider Google services. As a result, we can’t really recommend these phones. Fortunately, 2018’s Mate 20 series models are still available and still have access to Google services, and they’re cheaper than ever.

Huawei Mate 20

Another fabulous cut-price Android phone. The Mate 20 comes with an unusual square arrangement for its three rear cameras, a tiny notch and a pin-sharp OLED screen. It also comes in a range of delightful colors and packs the super-speedy Kirin 980 processor.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

The Mate 20 Pro is a real flagship rival with a Google and Samsung-rivalling price tag. It has a big 6.4-inch OLED display, runs the latest version of Android, and is available with either 6GB or 8GB Ram. You get the same triple-camera set-up at the rear, with one 40Mp, 20Mp and 8Mp lenses. It’s well worth considering if you’re in the market for an Android flagship.

Huawei P30 Pro

The P30 Pro is a true powerhouse. It has a 6.47-inch OLED display, four rear cameras, the speedy Kirin 980 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a huge 4,200 mAh battery. If you need a phone to power through games and multitasking, while also lasting all day — the P30 Pro might be for you (if you can get one).

Verdict – Excellent phones, subjected to unusual geopolitical pressures

huawei mate 20 pro medium

Huawei Mate 20Lacks some top-end features but excells at the core jobs expected of a smartphoneIn Short

Pros 

  • Powerful processor
  • Excellent battery life
  • Huge screen

Cons 

  • LCD display isn’t as sharp as the Pro
  • Might be too large for some
  • Not as water or dust-proof as many phones

GalleryClick to expand

huawei mate 20 small

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Motorola Phones

You might think of Motorola as a brand relegated to the smartphone cemetry, but you’d be wrong. The brand that gave us the iconic RAZR is still knocking out some incredible mid-range phones, which are well worth taking a look at.

Moto G8 Plus

Motorola’s G-series phones have long been regarded as the best cheap phones on sale and, with the G7 Plus, the company has created another cut-price classic. It runs Android, a 6.3-inch 1080p display, triple rear cameras, and a tiny notch. It costs just $310 — yes, you read that correctly. Read our full review for more.

Motorola One Zoom

The One Zoom was launched at IFA in Berlin packing four (yes, four) rear cameras while costing just $449. That array of rear-facing lenses include a depth-sensor, a 117-degree ultra-wide angle lens, and a telephoto lens — meaning you should get great photos whatever the conditions. Find out more about the One Zoom here.

Motorola One Vision

The One Vision costs the same as the g7 Plus but is a very different phone. Firstly, it’s tall — the screen has a 21:9 aspect ratio, making it three times taller than it is wide. Secondly, it takes incredible photos with dual rear cameras (including a 48Mp lens). Thirdly, it uses Android One, a version of Android that gives you speedy updates and minimal bloatware. It’s an unusual but impressive phone.

Verdict – The cheap G-series are a solid option for those one a budget, while its Android One series keeps getting better

motorola g8 plus rear case

Motorola Moto G8 Plus ReviewOne of the best cheap Android phones gets even better4In Short

Every year, it feels like we say the same thing. The latest phones from Motorola’s G-series are great, and arguably the best value for money phones on the market. And believe it or not, 2019 is no different. The Motorola G8 Plus is a great phone, and it costs just north of $300. When a phone this good is this cheap, why would you buy anything else?GalleryClick to expand

motorola g8 plus screen
motorola g8 plus rear case

Nokia Phones

Recently resurrected, Nokia has come back to life with a flurry of activity, launching some seriously impressive mid-range Android phones. They’re certainly not flagship killers – leave that to OnePlus – but they provide a compelling alternative to Samsung’s cheaper options.

Nokia 8.3 5G

The 8.3 is Nokia’s first 5G-enabled phone and starts from around $640 in the US — that’s cheap for a 5G device.

However, the 8.3 is more than just a 5G phone. It has a 6.8-inch display that upscales content into HDR-compatible formats for better clarity and contrast. It has four rear cameras: a 64Mp wide angle lens, a 12Mp ultrawide lens, a 2Mp macro lens for close-up shots, and a 2Mp depth sensor. Plus, it has a large 4,500 mAh battery for extra long battery life.

Nokia 7.2

The 7.2 is a very impressive budget option if you’re looking for strong camera quality. Costing $349, the 7.2 comes with a 48Mp main camera, an 8Mp ultrawide lens, and a 5Mp depth sensor. Plus, these cameras use Zeiss optics for the best clarity and image quality.

The 7.2 is powered by a Snapdragon 660 processor and 4GB of RAM, meaning it should be more than fast enough for most people. The 6.3-inch Full-HD+ display means it should be perfect for streaming TV shows and movies.

Nokia 3.2

The 3.2 is a remarkably cheap phone, costing just $150. It’s not perfect, with slightly sluggish performance and a finnicky face unlock system.

However, it has remarkable battery life — thanks to its efficient processor and large 4,000 mAh battery. It’s also extremely well-built, unseemingly so for a phone at this price.

If you’re looking for the perfect backup phone, the 3.2 might be the perfect fit. Find out more in our full Nokia 3.2 review.

Verdict – Buyers on a budget should definitely take a look at Nokia

Nokia 8.3 5G

Nokia 9 PureViewA left-field alternative with innovative camera set-upIn Short

Pros

  • Great cameras
  • Impressive pOLED screen
  • Stock Android
  • Powerful processor and healthy Ram figure

Cons

  • Battery isn’t the biggest at 3,320 mAh
  • Only IP67 is waterproof-rated, despite not having a headphone jack

GalleryClick to expand

nokia 9 pureview medium

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LG Phones

LG’s mobile division has fallen on hard times, and has failed to grab the imagination at the top end of the market. That’s not to say it doesn’t have some phones worthy of consideration, though.

LG V60 ThinQ 5G Dual Screen

LG has taken a different approach to folding phones compared to Samsung and Motorola. Instead of one screen which folds up, LG has decided to give its flagship phones two screens — no creases of reliability problems here — via a unique case attachment.

It costs $899 and, although you get the option of two screens, the rest of the spces aren’t that impressive. The primary screen has a 1080×2460 resolution — which is sharp, but not as sharp as other flagship phones. It has a large 5,000 mAh battery and uses a Snapdragon 865 processor. It gets three rear cameras including a 64Mp main lens, a 13Mp wide angle lens and a time-of-flight sensor for depth perception.

LG G8 ThinQ

The G8 ThinQ is LG’s answer to the leading flagship phones on the market. It packs a sharp 1440×3120 6.1-inch P-OLED display, a Snapdragon 855 processor for top-notch performance, and dual rear cameras. Price? At $849, it isn’t the cheapest, but it is certainly capable.

Verdict – LG is a bit of a leftfield choice, but not necessarily a bad one

LG G8 small

LG G8 ThinQ ReviewUnusual features but a way behind the compeitionIn Short

Pros

  • Interesting features such as HandID and in-display speakers
  • Decent battery life and cameras
  • Decent OLED display
  • MicroSD carad and headphone jack support

Cons

  • Fluctuating price makes it a difficult value proposition
  • Not as powerful as other rivals
  • Sluggish OS updates

GalleryClick to expand

lg g8 thinq

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Sony Phones

Sony has been stuck in a rut for a while now. However, with its new lineup of Xperia 10 phones, and the flagship Xperia 1, it’s look to change that. The phones are certainly head-turning, with overly tall displays. But are they actually any good?

Sony Xperia 10

The Xperia 10 seems like a pretty standard low- to mid-range phone. It has a Snapdragon 630 processor, dual rear cameras, and a 6-inch 1080p display. But that screen has a 21:9 aspect ratio and is, basically, just a bit too tall for one-handed use. Still, it’s good for watching films and it’ll set you back $299. Intrigued? Read our full review.

Sony Xperia 10 Plus

Like the above, but even bigger. It has a whopping 6.5-inch and it’s frankly too tall and heavy to be used with a single hand. Still, like its smaller brother, performance isn’t bad and that screen is great for watching TV shows and films, or playing games. There’s a significant price bump for that extra screen, though, as the Xperia 10 Plus costs $429.

Sony Xperia 1 II

The confusingly named Xperia 1 II is Sony’s latest flagship phone. Its main selling point is the 6.5-inch 4K 21:9 OLED display. This makes it perfect for watching movies or TV shows, as you’ll have plenty of screen real estate, as well as pin-sharp pixels.

However, you’ll pay a small fortune for that screen quality — the Xperia 1 II is expected to cost $1,300 when it goes on sale in the US.

Verdict – Sony produces decent phones at a range of prices

sony xperia 10 screen

Sony Xperia 10 ReviewA decent mid-range phone with an unusual screen3.5In Short

Pros

  • Tall screen makes watching some stuff better
  • Not too expensive

Cons

  • Plasticky design doesn’t feel brilliant
  • Underwhelming battery life

GalleryClick to expand

sony xperia 10 screen
Sony Xperia 10 screen
Sony xperia 10 plus rear
Sony Xperia 10 side on

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Phone Brands by Budget

These are the best phones you can buy, whether you have $300, $500 or over $1,000 to spend!

Best Phones Under $300 (Or $20 per month)

It’s safe to say that if you only have $300 to spend on a phone, you’re not going to be getting an iPhone. However, some brands offer great phones for budget-conscious buyers.

You should consider a phone from Motorola — anything from the G8 series would be perfect — or Nokia. Rather than looking to cut costs on the features and components, these companies produce phones that you could happily use every day. Some of the materials might not match those at the top of the market, but they have to save money somewhere.

motorola g8 plus screen

Best Phones under $500 (Or $30 per month)

While flagship phones now cost twice as much, there are some great phones to be had for under $500.

For this budget, we’d struggle to look past the Google Pixel 3a XL. It has strong performance, guaranteed software updates, and the best camera of any phone, at any price. If you’re not keen on a Google phone, you could look at a Samsung Galaxy A50.

Best Phones under $750 (Or $40 per month)

The $500-750 phone market doesn’t have the choice that you’d perhaps expect nowadays, with the market becoming polarized towards increasingly expensive or cheap phones – but that’s not to say you won’t find some good phones.

Again, in this price range, you’ll struggle to find a better phone than the OnePlus 7. However, if you’ve currently got an iPhone, we’d probably opt for the new 11.

oneplus 7 rear

Best Phones around $1,000 (or $50+ per month)

If you’re lucky enough to be able to drop a grand on a phone, you’ve got plenty of options. Not all of them are as good as others, though.

Of course, we’re now really entering iPhone territory. The 11 Pro is a great phone, though we’re not sold on the 11 Pro Max. If you don’t fancy something from Apple, we’d go Google or Samsung. If you need the best cameras, get the Google Pixel 4 XL. If you need incredible all-round capabilities, get the Samsung S20.

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