Buying a budget smartphone is a risky business. Pared-down on features and cut corners mean they don’t often impress, but in our latest reviews we’ve found our cheapest Best Buy phone.
We’ve put three new models costing less than £200 through our labs – two from challenger brands Oppo and Xiaomi, while one is a cheaper offering from the usually pricey Samsung.
Read on to find out how these cheap phones compare, or browse the best mobile phones we’ve tested for more surprises.
Cheap mobile phones from Oppo, Xiaomi and Samsung compared
The table below shows how our three new budget phones compare on key specs.
|Oppo A15||Samsung Galaxy A12||Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T|
|Screen||6.5-inch LCD||6.5-inch LCD||6.5-inch LCD|
|Processor||MediaTek Helio P35 with 3GB of Ram||MediaTek Helio P35 with 4GB of Ram||MediaTek Dimensity 800U with 4GB of Ram|
|Rear cameras||13Mp wide, 2Mp macro, 2Mp depth||48Mp, 5Mp ultra-wide, 2Mp macro, 2Mp depth||48Mp wide, 2Mp macro, 2Mp depth|
|Front cameras||5Mp wide||8Mp wide||13Mp wide|
All the models we’ve tested have large displays and big batteries – no longer features reserved for more expensive models, plus there are a decent array of cameras.
The Galaxy A12’s extra ultra-wide lens should, in theory, make for better shots of scenery and group pictures, although our testing shows that the type of lens and the number of megapixels it has doesn’t always equate to better photos and videos.
In short, there’s should be something for everyone on a budget in these latest releases.
Oppo A15 (£120)
As you might expect from the low price, this Oppo phone is pretty basic. There’s only 17GB of internal storage after the pre-installed software (although this can be extended with a micro-SD card) and it’s missing NFC, so you won’t be able to use it for contactless payments.
It might be light on features, but this model impressed in other areas. Find out what we liked and disliked about this phone by reading our full Oppo A15 review.
Is your phone is still getting important security updates? Find out why some mobile phone brands are putting customers at risk with inadequate update support. You can also read more about the risks of using an old handset in our guide to mobile phone security.
Samsung Galaxy A12 (£170)
It’s missing the protective case that comes in the box with both the Oppo and Xiaomi, but nevertheless, this is a steal for a Samsung phone. Like the Oppo, there’s no NFC, so Google Pay is out of the picture, but there is a headphone jack and a grand total of four rear cameras.
See if the extra lens makes for better photos and how it performed in our other tough tests, by reading the full Samsung Galaxy A12 review.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T (£199)
This Xiaomi is the only phone of the three to come with 5G compatibility, making it one of the very cheapest 5G models you can buy. It also has the highest resolution display of the three, so you’d expect it to show off content nicely.
That’s not all it takes to win a Best Buy, though, so read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T review to see if its cameras and battery are up to scratch.
Is it worth buying a cheap mobile phone?
Our testing shows that, on average, spending more gets you a better phone.
Phones costing less than £250 are far more likely to be poor performers. In fact, all of our 10 lowest-scoring handsets are in this price bracket.
There are bargains to be found, though, so make sure to read our mobile phone reviews to find the rare gems that sit alongside premium phones in our Best Buy list.
Or you can find your perfect model in our round-up of the best cheap smartphones.