Aren’t modern smartphones excellent? It’s like having a mini super-computer in your pocket compared to the bulky handsets of old. Technology, on the whole, has been getting better and better every year and – crucially – much cheaper too. Because of this, you no longer need to hand over wallet-wilting sums of cash for your annual smartphone upgrade. Move your gaze away from those usual smartphone flagship big-hitters and you’ll find yourself a fantastically priced bargain, as there are some cracking budget smartphones to be found.
Yes, those headline-grabbing flagships such as Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and the iPhone X are wonderful and all, but you no longer have to spend top dollar for a great smartphone experience anymore. Would you like to know more? Well, that’s where we come in. These are the best budget smartphones in 2018.
Each and every year, Expert Reviews put hundreds of smartphones to the test so you don’t have to, with the best coverage in the UK. Because of this, we can definitively give you a heads up which budget smartphone is perfect for you. Take a look below, and you’ll spot our regularly curated list of the best budget smartphones you can buy in 2018, as well as a helpful budget smartphone buying guide on the second page.
Without further adieu, here are the best budget smartphones of 2018.
Best budget phones to buy in 2018
1. Motorola Moto G6: The best budget phone is back
Motorola hit a rich vein of form with the first four generations of Moto G but, with the Moto G5, it faltered for the first time. This was the first G-branded phone to miss an appearance on this list but the Moto G6 has put the firm back onto its winning ways in 2018.
In short, the Moto G6 is a stunning budget smartphone. The camera is perfect for lighter wallets – the quality of images are amazing for a phone this cheap – the design is fabulous (with an 18:9 display) and the software is chock full of extras, despite the look and feel of stock Android. The Moto G6 is the very definition of the budget smartphone and at this price, there’s simply nothing better.
motorola moto g6 5.7-Inch Android 8.0 Oreo UK Sim-Free Smartphone with 3GB RAM and 32GB Storage (Single Sim) – Deep Indigo
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 1.8GHz Snapdragon 450 ; Display: 5.7in 2,160 x 1,080; Storage: 32GB ; Camera: 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel; Operating system: Android 8.0; Weight: 167g
2. Honor 9 Lite: Dazzling design and high-end features
Honor isn’t exactly the biggest smartphone brand in the UK – it’s actually an offshoot of Huawei – but the 9 Lite shouldn’t be overlooked. While it isn’t the cheapest phone on this list, Honor’s latest budget phone is much more feature-packed than the lot of them, with an 18:9 display, top-end specs and a fancy reflective design that dazzles when the phone catches the light.
And that’s not all. While it might not possess the same photography prowess at the Moto G6, the Honor 9 Lite’s dual-camera arrangement is excellent, capturing crisp well-defined details for your Instagram vanity shots. The only problem – and the reason why it misses the podium – is that its battery life isn’t quite as good as the competition.
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.3GHz Kirin 659; Display: 5.7in 2,160 x 1,080; Storage: 64GB; Camera: 13-megapixel, 2-megapixel; Operating system: Android 8.0; Weight: 149g
3. Vodafone Smart N8: Feature packed
It’s no surprise to see Vodafone’s Smart N8 make an appearance here: it’s a massive improvement over the previously-impressive Smart Prime 7, with a much better camera and a fingerprint reader, too.
For the low, low price of just £85, you get a handset that runs Android 7 Nougat as well as all the flagship features you’ve come to expect. Its battery life is a tad short – and is surpassed by its older Smart Prime 7 sibling – but performance is decent enough for a phone at this price. The Vodafone Smart N8 is so dirt cheap, it’s almost impossible to pass up.
Key specs – Processor: Quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6737; Display: 5in 1,280 x 720; Storage: 16GB ; Camera: 13-megapixel; Operating system: Android 7.0; Weight: 151g
4. Samsung Galaxy J5: Dazzling display and pixel-perfect camera
Samsung has a great track record of pumping out fantastic budget handsets. For the past few years, it’s been the firm’s J-series lineup that has drawn headlines, and the Galaxy J5 is no exception. Not only does the new J5 have a monstrous battery life, but its Super AMOLED display – despite being only 720p – is a proper beauty.
Camera performance has seen a marked upgrade, too. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the best. Pair that with its eye-catching display and you’re looking at a phone that’s perfect for showing off your excellent Instagram snaps.
The only sticking point is its hefty price hike. The previous model cost a measly £150, but we’re expected to pay almost £100 more for this updated version, at £240. Still, that vastly undercuts pricey flagships, so Samsung’s Galaxy J5 retains a seat on our budget phone hierarchy for another year running. Good show Samsung.
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) 16GB SIM-Free Smartphone – Gold (SM-J530F)
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 1.6GHz Exynos 7870; Display: 5.2in 1,280 x 720; Storage: 16GB ; Camera: 13-megapixel; Operating system: Android 7.0; Weight: 160g
5. Honor 7A: A Snapdragon show-off
Another Honor phone on this list, the firm’s latest budget smartphone is as worthy of an entry as its many other handsets. It’s well-priced – although if it wasn’t it wouldn’t be on this list – and edges out from the rest in key areas such as display and performance. Its camera or battery life might not be as good as others, but that’s not stopping it from being one of the best value smartphones yet from the Huawei subsidiary.
What’s best, too, is that the Honor 7A is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 430, rather than the Huawei-made Kirin chip plaguing the firm’s other smartphones. Essentially, you’re getting a much better processor inside this budget smartphone that’s significantly faster than the majority of its dirt-cheap competition.