Best cheap smartphones: PAYG mobiles compared

We compare the best budget blowers on the market

Best cheap smartphones  PAYG mobiles compared

With massive innovation in both hardware and operating systems, phones now do a lot more than just let you talk and text, and handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and iPhone 6 are stealing headlines around the world these days.

Sadly all this innovation isn't cheap – and most of it is reserved for high-end contract handsets. So, is there such a thing as the 'best phone on a budget'?

We've been through our extensive mobile phone reviews to find the best cheap phones at the moment, so if you're looking to pick up a decent handset for not much cash (under £200 in fact), these are the best budget phones going.

10. Nokia Lumia 530

Nokia Lumia 530

The Nokia Lumia 530 is the first Windows Phone in our top ten, and it's very deserving of its place. Considering that it can be easily picked up for under £80, you get a pretty decent little smartphone for your money.

The Quad-core Snapdragon 200 processor and 512MB RAM that the Nokia Lumia 530 comes with are enough to power Windows Phone 8.1 for a reasonably slick and smooth experience, though it is let down by coming with a rather paltry 4GB of storage space, but at least you can expand it with a microSD card.

The Lumia 530 also proves itself to be surprisingly adept at gaming and manages to keep pace with some of the more expensive Windows Phone handsets when it comes to playing graphically intensive games. It doesn't quite offer the performance of most of its Android peers in this list, however.

If you're after a cheap and cheerful smartphone that packs a number of features for a rock-bottom price, then you won't go too far wrong with the Nokia Lumia 530.

9. Huawei Ascend G6

Huawei Ascend G6

Huawei has downsized its ultra-thin Ascend P6, slapped on a budget price tag and released the Ascend G6. It might not be the cheapest handset in this list, but for a slightly higher price you get plenty of premium features.

One of the biggest selling points is that the Ascend G6 is its 4G connectivity, which grants access to super-fast mobile internet. At the time of its release 4G was relatively rare in sub-£200 smartphones.

Since then 4G has been cropping up more regularly in budget blowers, some of which are a fair bit cheaper than the Ascend G6.

The Huawei Ascend G6 also comes with an impressive front-facing camera for taking selfies, all wrapped up in a clean, if a bit unexciting, design.

8. Motorola Moto E

Motorola Moto E

The Moto E is the baby of Motorola's current range of smartphones and with a super-low price tag comes a solid handset which gives you all the key parts of Android with minimum fuss.

There's a 4.3-inch display, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 5MP rear camera, 1980mAh battery and Android 4.4 KitKat packed into this dinky dialler and while those specs won't set the world alight they're good enough at this low price point.

It does lack the zip of the Moto G, internal storage is low at 4GB and the rear camera is poor, but stick a microSD card into the handset and it'll cope with many general apps and games.

For £90 or less there are very few compelling options and when it comes to Android handsets at that price which actually work there's nothing else out there as good as the Moto E.

7. Nokia Lumia 735

Nokia Lumia 735

The second Windows Phone entrant in our top ten is everything that a selfie lover could wish for, with a fantastic 5MP front-facing camera and a brightly coloured design that makes it stand out from the crowd.

Even if you're not too keen on plastering the internet with close up photos of your face, there's still a lot to like about the Lumia 735.

The 4.7-inch 720p screen looks particularly good, though it does mean that the quad-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB RAM sometimes strains compared to other budget smartphones when it comes to performance.

Barring the odd performance hiccup, the Lumia 735 is a decent budget smartphone that will appeal to the younger selfie generation.

6. HTC Desire 510

HTC Desire 510

The HTC Desire 510 is a decent budget smartphone that packs a lot of features considering its price, though it suffers from a few too many compromises to appear any higher up this list.

It comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad core processor that's clocked at 1.2GHz and 1GB of RAM. These help Android KitKat to feel fast and responsive, and in benchmark tests it performed better than its closest competitor, the EE Kestrel.

The HTC Desire 510 also comes with a removable 2100mAh battery that lasts longer than many budget smartphones, as well as 4G support for super fast mobile internet.

What keeps the HTC Desire 510 from appearing any higher in our list is the camera which manages to miss out certain details in day to day snapping. The 4.7-inch screen is also disappointing, sporting a resolution of only 480 x 854.

Despite these compromises the HTC Desire 510 is a good choice if you're looking for a budget smartphone, especially for browsing the internet.