Buying Guide: Best cheap phones in the US for 2016


While handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S7, iPhone 6S, LG G5 and the HTC 10 are stealing headlines around the world, there’s a lot of intriguing (and cheap) stuff going on in the world of budget phones.

Sadly smartphone innovation isn’t cheap – and most of it is reserved for high-end contract handsets. There is however such a thing as a good cheap smartphone, and ever so gently all those amazing features from the flagship devices are slowly trickling down to the budget phones.

Here’s a selection of our favourite budget phones that cost under £200. If you’re looking to pick up a decent handset for not much cash, these are the top cheap phones your money can buy – even on a budget.

1. OnePlus X

OnePlus has gone below £200 and it’s paid off

Weight: 160g | Dimensions: 140 x 69 x 6.9mm | OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: Snapdragon 801 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 2525mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP

Attractive design

Bright display

No NFC or fast charging

Hard to get a hold of

OnePlus caught our eye with its first phone last year, but this new addition is even more jaw dropping as it has managed to go below the £200 mark.

It can be difficult to get your hands on the OnePlus X because of the invite only system, but once you do you won’t be disappointed.

It’s not just an impressive spec either. OnePlus has created a gorgeous design for its new budget range and it’s beautiful to hold. If you can go through all the pain of getting a phone from OnePlus, go for this one.

Read the full review: OnePlus X

Wileyfox Storm

2. Wileyfox Storm

A newbie has jumped into second place

Weight: 155g | Dimensions: 156 x 77 x 9.2mm | OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: Snapdragon 615 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 2500mAh | Rear camera: 20MP | Front camera: 8MP

Great screen

Snappy performance

Average battery

Weedy buttons

Wileyfox has jumped into second place with its first ever phone, the Storm. Much like OnePlus has done, it blows all the previous competition away.

Here you get an incredible 5.5-inch Full HD display, 32GB of storage and a stunning 20MP camera. Put in an 8MP selfie snapper and it’s a very impressive set up considering it costs less than £200.

If you want high-end specs like OnePlus offers but don’t want to fight tooth and nail for an invite, this will be the best choice for you.

Read the full review: Wileyfox Storm

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua

3. Sony Xperia M4 Aqua

This is the mid-range waterproof marvel we wanted

Weight: 136g | Dimensions: 145.5 x 72.6 x 7.3mm | OS: Android 5.0 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Snapdragon 615 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2400mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Great waterproof design

Very good battery life

Poor performance in some areas

Only 8GB internal memory

Sony’s latest mid-ranger is a big improvement on the M2 Aqua, but a lot of competition has jumped in and knocked it down to third place. If you’re looking for a little more check out the newer Sony Xperia M5, but it doesn’t fall into our low-cost bracket.

That said, this is still a cracking phone. It’s the only one on the list you can take in the bath with you as it has IP68 waterproof technology that means it won’t frazzle the internals.

There’s also a great 720p 5-inch screen and some of the best battery life we’ve seen on a mid-range phone for quite some time. If you like Sony phones, this is the best you can get for under £200.

Read the full review: Sony Xperia M4 Aqua

Moto G 2015

4. Moto G (2015)

Motorola’s best cheap phone is better than ever

Weight: 155g | Dimensions: 142 x 72 x 11.6mm | OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Snapdragon 410 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2470mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Smart water resistance

Great performance

Bulkier design

Pricer than older Moto Gs

What’s this, a Moto G not at the top of our budget “best of” list? Your eyes don’t deceive you, the almighty Moto G has been knocked back to fourth even though it’s still an awesome phone.

The 5-inch display is high quality despite being only 720p, the quad-core processor is adept at handling most tasks and it can be upgraded to the latest version of Google’s Android.

This time it comes with 4G packed inside as well – but there’s still no sign of NFC just yet, a big shame. But otherwise, it’s a top notch smartphone. We could see Moto jump back up the list as rumours continue to circulate regarding the next generation G.

Read the full review: Moto G (2015)

Acer Liquid Jade S

5. Acer Liquid Jade S

Weight: 116g | Dimensions: 143 x 69 x 7.8 mm | OS: Android 4.4.4 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: 1.5GHz octa-core | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 2300mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Impressive performance

Light, curvaceous design

Disappointing cameras

Mediocre battery life

If you can see past its flaws, the Liquid Jade S offers some of the best performance and build quality of any affordable dual-SIM smartphone.

Thanks to the octa-core processor and Acer’s minimal software tweaks, the performance of the Liquid Jade S is simply stellar. Design is another major high point with the lightweight, curvaceous build resulting in a solid and comfortable in-hand feel.

That being said, there are still a few key areas where it suffers in comparison to other mid-range offerings, and as a result, the Liquid Jade S may not be at the top of everyone’s wish list.

Read the full review: Acer Liquid Jade S

Sony Xperia T3

6. Sony Xperia T3

An even larger budget phone from Sony

Weight: 148g | Dimensions: 150.7 x 77 x 7mm | OS: Android 4.4 | Screen size: 5.3-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Snapdragon 400 | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2500mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.1MP

Slim body

Attractive UI

Disappointing resolution

Limited storage

We don’t like the Xperia T3 as much as the Xperia M4 Aqua, but it’s still a good little phone and would suit some people better than the M range does.

For one thing, this comes with an even bigger screen as well as a slim body that shows off some of the best Sony can do.

Even though the spec may not be as high as others on this list, the Sony Xperia T3 is one of the best all round packages you can buy right now.

Read the full review: Sony Xperia T3

Moto E

7. Motorola Moto E (2015)

The new Moto E packs LTE and a few sweet upgrades

Weight: 145g | Dimensions: 129.9 x 66.8 x 12.3mm | OS: Android 5.0 | Screen size: 4.5-inch |Resolution: 540 x 960 | CPU: Quad-core 1.2GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,390mAh |Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: VGA

Solid design

Great low price

Some display issues

Not enough storage

The second generation Moto E shows that Motorola isn’t messing around when it comes to budget smartphones, as it continues the legacy of its predecessor as one of the best affordable handsets you can buy.

A whole host of new features have been added to the Motorola Moto E (2015) including 4G LTE connectivity and a decent – though not exactly premium design.

It also ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop, making it one of the cheapest smartphones to come with Google’s latest mobile operating system straight out of the box.

The Motorola Moto E (2015) isn’t quite as good as the slightly more expensive Motorola Moto G (2014) which, spoiler alert, appears later on in this list, but for the low, low price you’ll be hard pressed to find a better smartphone.

Read the full review: Motorola Moto E (2015)

Nokia Lumia 735

8. Nokia Lumia 735

Cheap, cheerful and perfect for selfies

Weight: 134g | Dimensions: 134.7 x 68.5 x 8.9mm | OS: Windows Phone 8.1 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Quad-core 1.2GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 2,200mAh | Rear camera: 6.7MP | Front camera: 5MP

Decent front facing camera

HD Screen

Feels a little sluggish

Frustrating keyboard

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 the quad-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB RAM sometimes strain 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.

Read the full review: Nokia Lumia 735

Wileyfox Swift

9. Wileyfox Swift

A budget handset that’s anything but

Weight: 135g | Dimensions: 141.1 x 71 x 9.3mm | OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 5-inch |Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Snapdragon 410 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 2500mAh |Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: N/A

Great screen

Good camera

Sometimes complicated OS

Uninspired design

Wileyfox has jumped in and torn up our best cheap phone list – this latest addition is the Swift and it’s almost as impressive as the Storm.

This phone comes with a smaller screen and slightly less powerful processor than the Storm, but it may be perfect for you if your prefer the design.

We especially liked the camera on the back, that’s a 13MP shooter, as it comes out with some truly stunning images.

Read the full review: Wileyfox Swift

Samsung Galaxy J3

10. Samsung Galaxy J3

S7 stylings in a much more affordable package

Weight: 138g | Dimensions: 142.3 x 71 x 7.9mm | OS: Android Lollipop | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: 1.2GHz quad-core | RAM: 1.5GB | Storage: 8/16GB | Battery: 2600mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP

Colour rich screen


Not overly powerful

Camera could be better

The Galaxy J3 takes styling tips from the flagship Galaxy S7 and distills them down into a much more affordable package.

It may not have the best power, cameras or display, but the J3 is a solid performer at its price point.

The inclusion of a microSD card and the ability to remove the battery will be highlights for some, while the screen is bright and colourful.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy J3

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