The best cheap phone is a title that’s hotly fought for, in fact, the bottom end of the smartphone market is arguably the most competitive, with manufacturers doing all they can to squeeze in more specs and features than rivals, while keeping costs low.
So there are a lot of options to choose from, but unlike the top end of the market, where even the worst handsets are usually reasonable, there are some truly terrible budget phones, as getting the balance between price, performance and features right can prove tricky.
That’s where this list comes in. We’ve created a guide to phones that aren’t just cheap, but also great for what they cost. And they really are all very affordable, as we’re using a SAR / AED 1,000 price tag as the rough cut-off point.
And with the budget handset world being so competitive, our list of the best cheap phones is constantly being updated, so make sure to check back soon to see if and where new handsets rank.
1. Huawei P30 Lite
Solid performance, versatile camera and metal and glass build
Display: 6.15-inch full-HD LCD notched display | Processor: Kirin 710 SoC | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB | OS: Android 9 Pie with EMUI 9 | Rear camera: 24MP + 2MP + 8MP | Front camera: 32MP | Battery: 3340mAh
Apart from the teardrop notch and the colorful back designs, the P30 Lite has little in common with its siblings. The P30 Lite discards several key features from the higher-end P30 phones but aims to retain the spirit of the P30 series by offering a high-end striking design alongside an adept camera setup.
The phone can handle most tasks well enough for casual users. You can easily get a days worth of moderate use with the conservative battery capacity and if you happen to run out of juice the phone can charge up relatively quickly with the bundled fast charger.
5. Nokia 7.1
Nokia’s old champion mid-ranger
Release date: October 2018 | Weight: 160g | Dimensions: 150 x 71 x 8mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2280 | CPU: Snapdragon 636 | RAM: 3/4GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 3,060mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 5MP | Front camera: 8MP
That’s right, Nokia still has phones coming out. Things where dicey for a while there, but the company has been making a comeback recently, and its Nokia 7.1 handset offers a strong value.
The Nokia 7.1 offers a big, bright screen with the notch we’ve seen on so many other smartphones in the past couple years. The display even supports HDR10 for superior contrast and colors. The Snapdragon 636 chipset isn’t the most powerful, but will do for all but the most serious mobile gamers and power users. And, all of that is packed into an a aluminum and glass design the won’t feel nearly as cheap as the phone is.
Read our in-depth review: Nokia 7.1
- Looking for the best phones and not restricted to a budget? Here are our top picks.
Best cheap phones at a glance:
- Oppo A5 2020
- Huawei P Smart (2019)
- Honor 10 Lite
- Nokia 5.3
- Motorola One Macro
Best cheap phones:
1. Oppo A5 2020
One of the very best budget phones
Weight: 195g | Dimensions: 163.6 x 75.4 x 9.1mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1600 | CPU: Snapdragon 665 | RAM: 3/4GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 8MP + 2MP + 2MP | Front camera: 8MP
Oppo isn’t a massive name in the west, but it has started selling phones here, and some of them – such as the Oppo A5 2020 – are well worth paying attention to.
This has a price that’s the definition of budget, yet packs in a spacious, bright, and vibrant 6.5-inch 720 x 1600 screen, and a massive 5,000mAh battery, which in our tests lasted well over a day between charges.
It also sports a surprisingly expensive-looking (albeit plastic-clad) design, and a quad-lens camera. The actual performance of that camera isn’t special, and nor is the middling Snapdragon 665 chipset, but for the money the Oppo A5 2020 makes some very smart compromises.
Read our full review: Oppo A5 2020
2. Huawei P Smart (2019)
Super stylish for the money
Weight: 160g | Dimensions: 155.2 x 73.4 x 8mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.21-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Kirin 710 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 3,400mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP | Front camera: 8/16MP
The Huawei P Smart 2019 was for a long time the best cheap phone you could buy and it’s still one of the best.
It packs a usable camera, plenty of storage and great battery life as well as a screen and design that punch way above their weight.
There is very little between the Huawei P Smart and the Honor 10 Lite, as they’re practically the same device, but the P Smart has the edge with its slightly sharper design.
Read our full review: Huawei P Smart (2019)
3. Honor 10 Lite
A worthy rival to the Huawei P Smart
Weight: 162g | Dimensions: 154.8 x 73.6 x 8mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.21-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Kirin 710 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 3,400mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP | Front camera: 24MP
The Honor 10 Lite is a little unlucky to be ranked below the Huawei P Smart (2019) as it’s almost identical.
But if you’re a frequent Snapchatter or selfie addict the 24MP front-facing camera on the Honor 10 Lite is the one for you.
If you’re thinking “isn’t there a Honor 20 Lite out?” you’re totally right, but there’s very little difference between that and the Honor 10 Lite, save the price tag, so we’re keeping the older device up here for now.
Read our full review: Honor 10 Lite
4. Nokia 5.3
The best cheap Nokia phone
Weight: 185g | Dimensions: 164.3 x 76.6 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.55-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1600 | CPU: Snapdragon 665 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 5MP + 2MP | Front camera: 8MP
Nokia is known as a great budget smartphone manufacturer, and though it has some phones that fall below the SAR / AED 1,000 mark, the latest Nokia 5.3 offers a great balance between features and prices.
Sure, its specs are a little on the low side, but that’s to be expected in a phone at this price, and there are very few compromises you might notice.
But at its core, the Nokia 5.3 is a standard and conventional Android phone, and at a glance it’s not that different from a mid-range or even high-end device with the same design.
Read our full review: Nokia 5.3
5. Motorola One Macro
A great handset but not for its macro skills
Weight: 186g | Dimensions: 157.6 x 75.4 x 9mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1520 | CPU: Helio P70 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP + 2MP | Front camera: 8MP
The Motorola One Macro is a great budget phone, but not for the reasons its name might make you think. Yes, it has a dedicated macro lens, but in our review we found both this and its 13MP main and 2MP depth sensors to perform poorly.
Rather, the Motorola One Macro is good in most other ways, from its decent 6.2-inch 720 x 1520 screen, to its durable design, and its 4,000mAh battery, which provides above average life.
If not for its cameras the Motorola One Macro would be a great budget all-rounder, as things stand it’s a great budget almost all-rounder, ideal for anyone who doesn’t care much about smartphone photography.
Read our full review: Motorola One Macro