This endless variety also means there’s something out there for everyone, no matter your budget and no matter what features are on your must-have list. That includes a flagship-rivalling camera, a vibrant display, or support for 5G connectivity to ensure you always have access to the fastest speeds.
To make your buying journey easier, we’ve rounded up nine of the best budget and mid-range smartphones you can buy in the UK today. We’ve included something for everyone, from the best smartphone for gaming, the best handset for super-fast connectivity, and even the best handset you can buy for less than £100.
Upgradable to the latest version of iOS
Screen not as vibrant as more expensive iPhones
Only one rear camera
Average battery life
The 2022 iPhone SE is the perfect smartphone if you want access to all of Apple’s best features without having to pay a hefty price tag. Despite costing just £419 - a saving of more than £500 compared to the iPhone 13 Pro - the iPhone SE boasts many features typically reserved for Apple’s more expensive handsets. These include its insanely powerful A15 Bionic chip, IP67 water resistance, its impressive camera hardware and support for wireless charging.
There are some features you won’t find on the iPhone SE, however. There’s no support for Face ID, for example, with Apple instead implementing a Touch ID sensor. And there’s no large, high-resolution display, with Apple opting instead for a compact 4.7-inch LCD screen. Many will also no doubt be disappointed by the iPhone SE’s single 12MP rear-facing lens too, though we found the camera more than capable of producing detailed and vibrant shots.
With the iPhone SE, Apple has essentially taken a past flagship (the iPhone 8) that at the time of its launch was retailing for about £700, and beefed up its processing unit so that it’s more than capable of rivalling its more expensive competitors. Not only is it powerful, but the iPhone SE also boasts a great camera, impressive performance and an eye-catching design.
Check out our full Apple iPhone SE review.
Of course, its low price is undoubtedly its biggest selling point, with the handset costing just £419. You can also pick up iPhone SE pay monthly deal for as little as £25 a month.
High-quality 50MP camera
Durable build quality
No water resistance
Night Mode can be frustrating
No expandable storage
The OnePlus Nord range is quickly becoming one of the most recognisable mid-range smartphone brands as the company looks to bring an impressive featureset to those on a budget. The second-generation handset in the series - the OnePlus Nord 2 - does just that. It boasts built-in 5G support, an impressive 6.3-inch 90Hz display, and a powerful 65W charger, which means it can fully charge in just over half an hour.
Another highlight of the OnePlus Nord 2 5G is its triple camera setup, which includes a 50MP main lens. Not only is this packed array capable of producing well-lit, accurate images, but it also means you can shoot 4K video. However, it’s worth noting that recording 4K footage will eat up the handset’s built-in storage quickly, and there’s no option to expand via microSD.
We were also impressed by the performance of the OnePlus Nord 2 5G, especially for this price. While it doesn’t pack a big-name processor - the handset features a Dimensity 1200-AI chip - the handset is smooth and fast to use, and handled everything we threw at it with ease.
Check out our full OnePlus Nord 2 5G review. The best thing about the OnePlus Nord 2 5G is its price: the handset can be picked up for just £399 SIM-free.
Large camera bump
Poor battery life
Expensive for a mid-range smartphone
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is the most expensive smartphone on our list, but it’s also the most feature-rich. That’s because the FE is designed to feature the most essential parts of the famous Galaxy S range, which is why the letters in its name stand for ‘Fan Edition’.
This makes the Galaxy S21 FE a must-have for those in the market for a Samsung smartphone who don’t have the cash to spend on a top-of-the-line flagship. It boasts a near-identical design to last year’s flagship Galaxy S21, a similarly-specced triple camera setup. You also get a brilliant 6.4-inch FHD+ display that shares all of the same technology, from Samsung’s Dynamic 2X screen tech that accurately displays dark scenes, to a 120Hz refresh rate that makes gaming and scrolling impressively slick.
Performance is on par with its flagship predecessor, too. The Galaxy S21 FE packs a top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor. This not only means the handset can handle any task you throw at it with ease, but also equips the device with support for superfast 5G connectivity.
Check out our full Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review. The only downside to the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is its price. If you’re looking to pick up the device SIM-free, the entry-level model is available for £699, and the 256GB variant for £749. By comparison, the standard Galaxy S21 128GB is on sale for £769, and its larger 256GB version for £819. You can also pick up Galaxy S21 FE pay monthly deals from less than £30 a month.
No IP rating
Huge camera bump
Not as powerful as its rivals
If you’re in the market for a smartphone that costs less than £500, look no further than the Honor 50. Although it costs just £449, the handset stacks up to many of its bigger-name rivals with its 6.57-inch OLED screen and its quad-camera setup that’s headed up by a whopping 108MP main lens.
It also boasts some features typically reserved only for top-end flagships, such as built-in support for 5G connectivity. It also comes with 66W SuperCharge technology that can charge the battery to 70% in just 20 minutes when using the charger provided, and a 120Hz refresh rate that makes gaming and scrolling super-smooth.
There are some negatives, however. While its design is largely inoffensive - the handset features an attractive, reflective back that’s somewhat reminiscent of recent OnePlus flagships - there’s no IP67 certification. This means it would unlikely survive if it was dropped in water. It also sports a hefty camera bump, making it impossible to sit the handset flat on a table.
Still, for just £449 SIM-free, the Honor 50 gives you a lot for your money.
Great 120Hz screen
Half the price of the Galaxy S21
No IP rating
For those after an affordable Samsung smartphone who want something cheaper than the Galaxy FE, look no further than the Galaxy A32 5G which retails for just £399 SIM-free. Although its low-resolution display and scratch-prone design fail to stack up to Samsung’s more expensive handsets, there’s a lot to like about the Galaxy A32. It boasts a more-than-capable quad-camera setup, packs plenty of storage that can be expanded via microSD, and has an impressive processor that makes it an ideal device for on-the-go gaming.
That’s not all the Galaxy A32 has going for it. Though it lacks a Qualcomm chip, it still comes complete with 5G support. And its 5,020mAh battery means the handset can last for days without needing to be hooked up to a wall socket. The smartphone also ships with Android 11 out-of-the-box, with Samsung promising of years of updates to come.
Naturally, there are a handful of downsides to the Galaxy A32 5G. We weren’t blown away by the handset’s cheap-feeling design, nor were we fans of the chunky bezel surrounding the almost-unwieldy 6.5-inch display. We were also disappointed by the lack of IP-rating, which means if you drop the handset in a puddle or the bath, it’s unlikely to come out unscathed.
The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G can be picked up for £399 SIM-free.
Excellent battery life
Good 5G performance
Slow charging speeds
If you’re on a super-tight budget, Motorola’s Moto G50 might be the device for you. Despite costing just £200, the handset boasts features typically reserved for much more expensive devices, from its built-in 5G support to its massive 5,000mAh battery. This means it’s a dependable device, as it’ll easily breeze through a full day of heavy use without having to be tethered to a nearby socket.
You will have to make some compromises, though. While, on paper, the Moto G50 has an impressive list of features, some of these fall short in real-world testing. The 6.5-inch IPS screen, for example, has a lowly 720p resolution, which means it’s not an ideal device for hardcore gamers or those after a device for Netflix bingeing sessions. Its impressive-sounding triple-camera setup also failed to impress in poor lighting conditions, so it’s not a device for budding smartphone photographers.
However, for £200, you’re still getting a hell of a lot for your money. There’s plenty of built-in storage that can be expanded via the onboard microSD slot and its performance is great thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 chip. It has a decent 13MP front-facing camera, which is ideal for family video calls and late-night Zoom quizzing.
The Moto G50 can be picked up for £200 SIM-free.
MIUI 12 won’t be for everyone
No 5G support
The Redmi Note 10 Pro isn’t much more expensive than the Moto G50 at just £249 SIM-free, but it arguably offers much more impressive specs. Giving its bigger-name rivals a run for their money, the Xiaomi-made handset boasts a 6.67-inch AMOLED display, a quad-camera setup complete with a flagship-rivalling 108MP main lens, and a massive 5,020mAh battery. All of this combined makes for a great experience when consuming TV streaming content on the device.
Of course, for a phone of this price, there are a few drawbacks. The built-in Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G chipset offers average performance, and the 5MP telephoto and 2MP depth sensors don’t perform as well as those on higher-end smartphones. However, given you’re saving around £700 when compared to the Galaxy S21 Ultra, it’s well worth the compromise for the money you’re saving.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro is available for just £249 SIM-free.
Cheapest smartphone on our list
Great battery life
Not much RAM
The Nokia 1.4 is the cheapest smartphone on our list, with a retail price of just £89 SIM-free. This of course means that it isn’t the most feature-packed handset on the market, but it's a surprisingly capable device considering its price point. You’ll find a 6.51-inch HD+ display, a built-in fingerprint sensor and a dual-lens rear camera setup that sees it punching above its price in terms of budget smartphone photography.
However, for those after a high-performing smartphone, you may want to consider spending a little bit more. The Nokia 1.4 features a low-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 215 chipset, which can be paired with 1GB, 2GB or 3GB of RAM, which means it’s not a device for hardcore gamers or those after lightning-fast multitasking. Internal storage comes in 16GB, 32GB or 64GB options, and can be expanded up to 128GB with a microSD card.
Battery life is impressive, however, as the Nokia 1.4 has a battery life of two days, which is much longer than most modern smartphones. It’s also sure to be a dependable device, as HMD - the manufacturer of the Nokia 1.4 - says that the phone is designed to "survive falls from household surfaces all day long."
The Nokia 1.4 can be picked up for just £89 SIM-free.
Impressive battery life
No 5G support
ColourOS will divide opinion
The Oppo A72 punches well above its weight in terms of specs and performance and is a solid all-rounder for those in the market for a budget smartphone. Not only is it flashy on the outside with its reflective design, but it also packs a large 6.5-inch high-resolution display. It also has a quad-camera setup that includes a 48MP mains lens, along with a 5,000mAh battery that sees it breeze through a full day of usage.
While it’s by no means the most powerful smartphone on our list - the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chip falls short compared to the chipmakers 7- and 8-series mobile processors - we still found it a capable, reliable device, particularly when its sub-£300 price is taken into consideration.
However, some may be put off by its custom ColorOS skin that is sure to divide opinion among users, and others may be disappointed by its lack of 5G connectivity support.
The Oppo A72 can be picked up for £219 SIM-free.
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