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Best budget smartphones to buy in 2022: top affordable models

If you're looking for a budget-friendly smartphone there plenty of great options in 2022, with offering from Samsung, Honor, Oppo and more top brands. Read on for our complete guide.

Best budget smartphones - best affordable phones
Published: Friday, 6th May 2022 at 12:48 pm

You want a new phone, but you don’t want to pay a small fortune for it. We get it. Luckily, when it comes to low-cost options, there’s more choice than ever.

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While there’s an obvious appeal of the best mid-range phones and the higher-end models in our best smartphone guide, you can still get great performance, cameras, 5G connectivity and long-lasting battery with more budget alternatives.

None of the devices in this breakdown are priced over £320, and while they won’t have all of the premium features in the much more pricier phones, there will still be some standout specs that make them stand out from the competition.

So let’s get to it. Here’s our guide to the best budget smartphones you can buy in 2022 (so far). We have given each an award for their standard feature that we feel makes them special, while also including a link to the more in-depth reviews.

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Best budget phones to buy at a glance

Choosing a budget smartphone

How much should you pay for a budget phone?

While there are some exceptions, phones start to get good around the £200 mark. The sign of a truly great budget mobile is when you start to wonder why anyone in their right mind would consider spending four times as much for something that seems pretty similar 95% of the time. This happens quite a lot.

The closer you get to £100, the more likely you will see fundamental performance problems that may well get on your nerves. This includes sluggish typing inputs, lag when navigating or major stuttering when switching between your apps. We use our phones a lot, so you want to try and avoid these issues when possible.

Get to the £200-£300 mark, and you can take your pick of advanced features. You can have 5G, great gaming performance, higher-end design elements like a glass back cover or a surprisingly high-quality camera (or two).

No phone offers all of these in one package until you spend significantly more, so you will have to think about which matters most. And to get the most for your money, consider moving away from household names like Samsung to companies that you may never have considered before, like Xiaomi, Oppo and Realme.

Best budget phones to buy in 2022

Honor X8

Best all-rounder

Honor X8

Pros:

  • Thin and light
  • Very affordable
  • Qualcomm chipset
  • Good battery life

Cons:

  • Feels cheap
  • Not compatible with Netflix app

We gave the X8 a four-star rating in our full Honor X8 review. With that £219.99 price tag it stands out for its user experience and overall value offering.

Unfortunately it lacks 5G, but makes up for that with a sleek, slim design and a long-lasting battery. Admittedly, the handset feels a little cheap to the touch, but it seems the money Honor saved on the body shell has been spent on internals instead — we'd rather that way than the other way around!

Don't expect all the bells and whistles of a top-end phone, but the Honor X8 is a fantastic value proposition.

Buy the Honor X8:

Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 series, from £179.99

Best hi-res display

Redmi Note 11 Pro

Pros:

  • Solid main camera
  • Nice design and hand-feel
  • Good battery life when using 60Hz setting

Cons:

  • Some apps froze during testing
  • Large bezels
  • 120Hz setting drains the battery quickly

We loved the displays of the Redmi Note 11 series – which consists of two handsets, the Redmi Note 11 and Note 11 Pro. Starting at just £179.99, the base model still offers a 90Hz FHD+ AMOLED DotDisplay.

The £319 Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G model is what we could consider to be at the very top end of the budget category, but the specs and features are fantastic if you can stretch. You get a crisp 6.67-inch AMOLED display, 120Hz refresh rate, 108MP camera system, fingerprint scanner, classy design, solid battery life, IP52 dust and splash protection and even a headphone jack. While we found a few performance stutters during testing, we hope that can be ironed out via software updates.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11, at just £179.99, has a lot of specs that make it stand out from other £200 smartphones:, including a 6.43 inch AMOLED screen, Snapdragon 680 chipset, 5000mAh battery, 50MP main camera sensor and a 90Hz refresh rate. That's a fantastic affordable package overall, and definitely worth your consideration.

Read our Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G review.

Buy the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro: 

Buy the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11: 

Motorola Moto G22, £139.99

Best for battery life

Pros:

  • Two-day battery life
  • Attractive design

Cons:

  • Some software lags
  • Poor brightness

The Motorola Moto G22 is the most affordable handset in this guide, and while we found it to have slow software performance on occasion (expected for this price as you get closer to £100) it had three big redeeming qualities: the attractive design, the 50MP camera sensor and two-day (5000mAh) battery life. If you need a budget phone and don't care about speed, then the G22 is worthy of your attention.

Read our full Motorola Moto G22 review.

Buy the Motorola Moto G22: 

Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro, £249.99

Best for gaming

Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro

Pros

  • Fantastic gaming performance
  • Large 120Hz screen

Cons

  • Camera is beaten by rivals

Love mobile gaming? Do not ignore the Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro. It is one of the most powerful sub-£200 Android phones we have ever used and is simply in another league compared to others in this price class for gaming performance.

It’s because Xiaomi uses the Snapdragon 860 chipset, which has the chops of a slightly older flagship phone at several times the cost. 

You get stereo speakers and a 120Hz screen too, impressive enough on their own at under £250. The Poco X3 Pro doesn’t have the greatest cameras in its class, but they can still produce nice shots, and the sacrifice will be worth it for many.

Buy the Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro:

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G, £249.99

Best budget Samsung

Pros

  • Has Samsung Galaxy street cred
  • 5G at a sensible price

Cons

  • Low-resolution screen

The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G is the obvious Android phone to get if a) you want 5G, b) you want a Samsung and c) you don’t want to pay too much. It comes in cute pastel blue and lilac shades if you don’t fancy plain white or black.

However, this smartphone is otherwise not at the same level as the best 5G options from rivals including Motorola, Xiaomi and Oppo. Its display is lower-resolution and doesn’t have the high refresh rate others offer. This isn’t a bad phone, but it makes most sense if you specifically want a Samsung, not just a good 5G phone.

If you can afford to spend a little more, Samsung has since released the Samsung Galaxy A33. It costs £329, so it doesn't quite fit in our budget category, but it's a solid smartphone and well worth considering.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G: 

Xiaomi Poco M3 Pro 5G, £211

Best for 90Hz display

Pros: 

  • 5G connectivity
  • Smooth 90 Hz display

Cons: 

  • Big logo on the back
  • Pre-installed software

Xiaomi's Poco M-series will not only give you 5G connectivity on a budget, but also a solid 6.5-inch FHD+ display, 90Hz refresh rate, 5000mAh battery and a 48MP main camera. The design won't be for everyone due to the large Poco branding, but we found it to be a very competent low-cost handset during testing. There is now a newer model in the Poco M4 Pro 5G, which is currently priced at £204.99 on Amazon.

Read our full Xiaomi Poco M3 Pro 5G review.

Buy the Xiaomi Poco M3 Pro 5G: 

Realme 8 Pro, £259

Best for budget zoom photos

Realme 8 Pro

Pros

  • Unusually good for zoomed images
  • Strong primary camera

Cons

  • Polarising design

The Realme 8 Pro may not look quite as attractive as some other phones on this list on paper. It doesn’t have 5G. It doesn’t have a snazzy high refresh rate screen or a glass back. But Realme has put some extra effort in here.

We notice it in the camera. This has a 108MP main sensor and shoots remarkably good 3x zoom photos. They are on par with some phones that have a legit optical zoom. It even performs well at night, making this one of the most accomplished and fun-to-use camera phones you can get at the price. You’ll have to make peace with the questionable “dare to leap” slogan etched into the back, though.

Read our full Realme 8 Pro review.

Motorola Moto G50, £199.99

Best budget 5G

Motorola Moto G50

Pros

  • 5G at under £200
  • Excellent battery life

Cons

  • Camera photos look fizzier than the competition
  • Low-resolution screen

The Moto G50 is Motorola’s 2021 affordable 5G phone. It’s a little bit more affordable than the Moto G 5G Plus and gets in under that all-important £200 line. However, there are a few compromises to be found, as expected. 

It doesn’t have as sharp a screen as that slightly older 5G Moto or the Xiaomi or Oppo alternatives. 720p screens like the Moto G50’s don’t look bad, but when rivals offer more at a very similar price, we’re going to raise an eyebrow. 

The Moto G50’s camera is also not quite as good as those phones. We enjoy using the G50, but you can get slightly more for your money from Chinese brands.

Read our full Moto G50 review.

Buy the Motorola Moto G50: 

Oppo A54 5G, £219

Best for even feature coverage

Oppo A54 5G

Pros

  • Good all-round feature set
  • Solid general performance

Cons

  • Weak secondary cameras

The A54 5G is a £220 5G smartphone with a better screen than you get with the 2021-era Motorola or Samsung rivals. This alone makes us like the phone a lot, for buyers who want 5G and great features without spending a fortune.

Its battery life is great, general performance is sound, and its primary camera is great fun to use. It’s no night photography master, the secondary cameras aren’t up to much, and you’ll find better phones for gaming around this price. But the Oppo A54 5G definitely hits the right notes for frustration-free everyday use.

Buy the Oppo A54 5G: 

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