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Top 5 cheap and pay as you go phones of 2015

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We round up the year's best budget-priced handsets.
smartphones cheap

Smartphones stopped being the sole preserve of those with bottomless bank balances a long time ago.

But 2015 has seen affordable handsets become more and more laden with high-end features. And at prices that won't leave your wallet bereft of everything bar a gym membership card and a picture of your better half.

Here’s our pick of the five best cheap and pay as you go mobile phones from 2015. Snap one up now and you’ll have Christmas sorted.

1 Motorola Moto G 3rd generation (£159 on pay as you go)

motorola moto g

Motorola raised the asking price for its 2015 Moto G model a little from last year's edition, with the result that it now sets you back £159 on pay as you go.

But that's very reasonable for a handset that's sits of the very top of the tree when it comes to budget smartphones.

The reason? Well, there are plenty.

The 13-megapixel camera is a significant improvement on recent Motorola phones. Lush HDR means slicker video recording and Quick Capture technology makes it easy to take good photos in a hurry.

It's also waterproof, has got a solid-if-not-stunning 5–inch screen which works well in bright light and offers impressive battery life.

All of which means this is a cheap phone with the sort of specifications you’d associate with much fancier handsets.

Compare pay monthly Moto G deals here: Moto G.

Pick up the Moto G on pay as you go here: Moto G.

2 EE Harrier Mini (£110 on pay as you go)

ee harrier mini

Network-branded smartphones are usually best approached with caution. Not so EE’s Harrier Mini.

Made on EE's behalf by BenQ, a company not renowned for its first-rate handsets, the Harrier Mini surprised everyone by being hugely impressive.

The 5.2–inch screen is excellent, the battery keeps kicking for more than a day and it supports the ultra-fast LTE variety of 4G that EE's network offers.

That's a big sell given that EE's LTE 4G coverage is the UK's most extensive.

There are fancier phones, but if you want quick and easy web access at low cost this is an excellent selection.

Pick up the EE Harrier Mini on pay as you go here: EE Harrier Mini.

3 Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 (£115 on pay as you go)

vodafone smart ultra 6

At £115 when bought off-contract, this Vodafone–locked handset caused a real stir this year among tech fans on a budget.

It owes its warm reception in part to Vodafone's wise decision not to customise the phone's Android operating system with its own apps.

When we tested the Smart Ultra 6, we were also impressed that it kept ticking for the best part of two days on a single, full charge. The screen was more than servicable as well and is fine for viewing web pages and watching the odd YouTube clip.

It has 4G too, so you can download and stream music and video at lightning pace as long as the network near you is up to scratch.

Pick up the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 on pay as you go here: Vodafone Smart Ultra 6.

4 Motorola Moto E 2nd generation (£69 on pay as you go)

motorola moto e 2015

While the Moto G is arguably swankier, the ultra-cheap Moto E has won a lot of affection from fans who appreciate its simplicity and excellent price.

You can grab one for as little as £69 on pay as you go. That’s impressive seeing as it comes with an up-to-date version of Android, swappable rubber straps and so–called grip shells, plus 4G.

The screen is made from toughened Gorilla Glass and there are a number of smart Moto–only apps, including an alerts tool for sending texts in an emergency and an assist tool for tailoring the sort of notifications you get depending on your location.

That means an end to the days when bleeps and buzzes would interrupt important meetings.

Compare pay monthly Moto E deals here: Moto E.

Pick up the Moto E on pay as you go here: Moto E.

5 Microsoft Lumia 640 (£120 on pay as you go)

microsoft lumia 640

Lumia phones may not sell in the same numbers as their budget-priced Android rivals, but this year has seen a smattering of decent handsets powered by Microsoft's operating system. The Lumia 640 is our pick.

Its Windows software is solid and dependable. Its HD screen is a treat on the eyes and it comes with Office 365 and the Big M’s voice assistant, Cortana. And all for a SIM–free price of £120.

If you can live without a huge array of apps, knock yourself out.

Compare pay monthly Lumia 640 deals here: Lumia 640.

Pick up the Lumia 640 on pay as you go here: Lumia 640.

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