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Best budget smartphones 2017 - how to get iPhone-level specs for a quarter of the price

Mirror logo Mirror 10/04/2017
Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty

These days you don’t have to spend a fortune on a fancy handset – there are plenty of high-spec sub-£200 options if you know where to look.

High-tech innovations trickle down to devices at the lower end of the market at a rapid pace these days, so it’s easy to get a bargain without sacrificing on features.

Experts say it’s pretty easy to find a decent-sized 5-inch display with HD resolution for under £200. When it comes to cameras, you don’t actually need a massive megapixel count – an 8MP snapper is more than enough for the average amateur photographer.

Russell Parr, director at Carphone Warehouse, says the major difference between budget and more expensive handsets is their technological capabilities.

“In general, the more the phone costs, the more advanced the technology is from the quality of components used to build the phone, the size and resolution of the screen, the picture quality on the camera and also sometimes the operating system and higher storage capacity – which are perfect for customers that want or need these features,” he explained.

“There are, however, also a huge variety of more affordable phones on the market, many of them with strong specifications and features that customers look for, that will allow them to save money.”

What to watch for

“In terms of processor, keep your eye out for at least a quad-core chip, which should ensure your gaming and multitasking runs smoothly and without lag,” said Andrew Cartledge, from Mobiles.co.uk .

“Also check to see if your handset has a microSD slot if you like to store lots of photos, apps and music on your phone, as this is a godsend for adding extra storage capacity.”

Other money-saving musts

Whichever smartphone you buy, it’s normally cheaper to buy it outright rather than on a contract.

Unshackled.com , Mobiles.co.uk and Carphone Warehouse all sell SIM-free handsets which can be paired with one of the hundreds of cheap SIM-only deals on the market. Then you can either keep your phone until it conks out or upgrade it when you choose.

We’ve taken a look at the brands and models to watch out for if you’re after a bargain smartphone.

Motorola

Credits: Moto © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Moto

The Moto G family are widely regarded as among the best budget smartphones available.

The Moto G4 received rave reviews and its successor the Moto G5, which was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in March, looks set to follow suit.

A Moto G5 costs £159 at Carphone Warehouse . Previous Moto G models are cheaper – a Moto G4 Play costs £120 and a dual-SIM Moto G4 £149.95, both on Amazon.

Huawei

Credits: Huawei © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Huawei

Huawei is the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world and makes “lite” or “compact” versions of some of its most popular models.

Carphone Warehouse has an exclusive deal on the Huawei Y6 II Compact ; a £50 discount off the RRP means you can pick one up for just £79.99.

Alternatively, the Huawei Y3 (with a 4-inch display, 1730 mAh battery and 5MP camera) costs £59.99 on Amazon.

Samsung

Credits: Samsung © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Samsung

As well as logging horns with Apple at the top of the market, Samsung has a range of “J” series phones, targeting customers on tighter budgets. For example, the 8GB Samsung J3 costs £139 direct from Samsung.

Mobiles.co.uk recommends the slightly more pricey Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) which it sells SIM-free for £179.99 .

The phone comes with a 5.2 inch super “amoled” display, 13MP main camera, 5MP front camera, and 3100mAh battery. The phone’s 16GB of storage can be increased by slotting a card into the microSD slot.

Sony

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A mainstay of the tech industry, Sony has some decent budget range handsets full of features you would expect to find on more expensive models.

Carphone Warehouse is currently selling the Sony Xperia XA for £149.99 . A 5-inch edge-to-edge screen comes alongside a much-heralded 13MP main camera and 8MP front camera.

Another option is the Sony Xperia E5 which, although a bit slower to operate, boasts a two-day battery life and should set you back a maximum of £150.

Lenovo

Credits: Lenovo © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Lenovo

Remember when you phone lasted more than 24 hours on a single charge? Well the good old days are back if you buy a Lenovo P2 which can last up to three days. Expertreviews.com declared it “the best smartphone battery life, ever”.

As well as endurance, the P2 offers a dual-SIM slot (perfect for travellers) and a fingerprint reader. A smaller and cheaper alternative is the Lenovo Vibe A costing £69.99.

Wileyfox

Credits: WileyFox © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: WileyFox

Rather than making pared-down versions of flagship models, Wileyfox specialises in budget smartphones. It offers three types of phone: Swift, Storm and Spark, with each model coming in various versions. Prices start from £89.99 - although the higher-spck Swift2 model get the most praise (and is frequently discounted on Amazon ).

The range lets you get a cast aluminium case, HD screen, dual-sim, huge memory and a the finger-print activation seen on many premium models - for well under £150.

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