Looking for a new phone for under £300? Why not take a read through some of the suggestions pointed out in this article? I have picked out 10 excellent phones from a variety of manufacturers. There are options for both Android and iOS users.
Hopefully, by the time you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll have a good idea about the best options currently on the market. Because there’s a large price range, I’ll start from £100, and will include phones all of the way up to £300. Typically, the more you pay, the more you’ll be getting in terms of specifications, display, and features. If you’d like to find a smartphone for under £100, make sure to read our other blog.
Starting from the bottom, we have the Samsung Galaxy J5 2017. This is a refurbished option, which makes it far cheaper than a new J5. At this price, you’d be hard pressed to get something as spectacular as the Samsung Galaxy J5 2017. This smartphone comes without the default packaging and accessories, but besides that it’s almost brand new. It’s in better condition than a ‘used’ handset.
The J5 (2017) may be a year old, but it still has hardware to keep it in the game. You get 3GB of RAM, alongside an Octa-core Exynos 7870 processor. You also get a 720p 5.2 inch display, a 3,000mAh battery, and a 13 megapixel main camera. The display is the weak point here, but the specifications are something that can’t be ignored. Finally, the Galaxy J5 has a strong, sturdy metal unibody design that feels comfortable to hold.
Huawei has been dominating the UK market recently, especially in 2018 thanks to their spectacular high end smartphones like the Mate 20 and the P20. Despite this, my personal experience with Huawei has, for now at least, been strictly at the low end. I’ve regularly purchased budget Huawei phones as secondary devices for trips and days where I may be more concerned about losing my more expensive device.
Why Huawei? Their build quality at the low end is superb, for starters. This is no different for the Huawei Y7. Huawei’s OS is also very basic, with very little changes to stock Android, although their settings menu is refined, and in my opinion, even better than stock.
Besides that, Huawei’s budget phones offer much more than most. Abdul, another of our giffgaff blog writers, wrote his opinion on the Huawei Y7 recently. He claimed the Y7 is a budget phone with premium specs. When you consider this phone has a massive 5.99 inch display, a 13 megapixel dual camera, 2GB RAM, a Snapdragon 430, 3,000mAh battery capacity and even a fingerprint sensor, I can see why. If you are interested in the Huawei Y7, I definitely recommend reading his review and watching his unboxing and hands-on videos in his review article here.
The Huawei P Smart is another option that is on my recommended list for the best phones under £300. It shares many of the same spectacular features as the Huawei Y7. At first glance, there isn’t much that separates it, so I want to point the differences out in comparison to the ever so slightly cheaper choice above.
Firstly, this phone has a massive 3GB of RAM. It’s incredible to think a brand new £149 smartphone can have this, and on Android it really matters. It’s slowly crawling to the point where 3GB of RAM is necessary for a smooth experience, so that extra 1GB goes far in providing more fluid animations and transitions between apps.
You get a smaller display at 5.65 inches, but it’s a much more impressive 1080p panel. On the inside is a 3,000 battery a 13 megapixel dual primary camera, and a fingerprint sensor is also included.
Up next we have Sony’s Xperia XZ1 Compact. This particular option is refurbished, so you’ll miss out on the official accessories, but it’s a valid sacrifice when you consider what you get instead. Let’s get the negative aspects of this smartphone out of the way first. The display size is just 4.6 inches and it’s only a 720p panel. The bezel is also laughably large, something that many smartphone users would turn away in disgust at in 2018. Despite this, the Xperia XZ1 Compact is somewhat of a hidden gem, especially at this reduced price point.
Why? You may ask. Well, take a look beyond the rigid, big bezzeled build and look deeper. It’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? In the XZ1 Compact’s case, this is certainly true. You get a Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB of RAM. This is the exact same processor used by the majority of 2017 flagships. It’s the same hardware found in my Google Pixel 2 XL. You even get 4GB RAM alongside it. It costs 2-3 times less than a flagship, yet has flagship hardware. So, if you care more about high end performance, this is your best bet.
On a final note, the XZ1 Compact also has a fancy fingerprint sensor placed on the side of the device, where the power button usually sits. You also get a 19 megapixel camera, which isn’t quite as good as most 12 megapixel flagship cameras, but it’s very good for this price point. If you didn’t know already, Sony are the kings when it comes to smartphone camera hardware. In fact, most smartphone manufacturers, including Google and Huawei, use Sony sensors in their flagship devices. If only Sony could nail down a competitor to the excellent AI-based software used to power the Huawei and Google cameras.
Oh, hello Apple. You’re a little late to the party. It’s okay, Apple’s products are noticeably more expensive than Android phones, so to see even one worthwhile iPhone pick in our list of the best phones under £300 is a welcome addition. The iPhone SE launched in 2016 as a budget option, so many may be a little cautious about buying such a device in 2018 or 2019.
It’s important to understand that Apple supports their devices for longer than the competition, so whilst its hardware may seem outdated on paper, the iPhone SE works reasonably well. You’ll be making some sacrifices to get into the golden gates of Apple at this price, though. You’ll get a 4 inch display with a 640x1136 resolution. In 2018, for many people that’s just not okay. If you can look past that, the rest of the iPhone SE shows some pretty promising results. The 2GB RAM and Apple A9 chipset is still more than enough to run Apple’s incredibly optimized software. And, yes, the iPhone SE does support iOS and many have reported iOS 12 to actually speed up their older devices slightly. The iPhone SE also comes with a 12 megapixel camera and a 1,624mAh battery.
If you can stretch your budget past £200, my first suggestion would be the Motorola Moto G6.
It’s not the most beautiful looking device in the world, but it has a beautiful display and reasonable hardware for the price point. On the outside, I’d like to divert attention to the front mounted fingerprint sensor, something that I wish more phones had.
You also get a large 5.7 inch 1080x2160 display, and a 12MP/5MP dual camera sensor setup on the back. Battery life is decent thanks to the 3,000mAh capacity battery, and you also get a Snapdragon 450 chipset with 3GB RAM. It’s not as good as the XZ1 Compact, but when you’re buying brand new, you’ll always get slightly less at the same price point.
Huawei is back at a slightly higher price point with their Huawei P20 Lite. At £249, this is a product that blurs the lines between Huawei’s high end range and their arsenal of low end products. The Huawei P20 Lite is still in the same family as the excellent high end P20 phones, but it offers quite a significantly different experience.
The P20 Lite gives you a beautiful 5.84 inch 1080x2280 display to gawk at. Alongside that, you get 4GB RAM and a mid-range chipset. The camera is impressive, too, although it’s far from the quality of the P20 or P20 Pro. It’s a 16 megapixel camera with an included 2 megapixel depth sensor. On the front, there is a notch, so keep that in mind.
Competing for the £249 spot against the Huawei P20 Lite, we have the Xperia XA2. Strangely, this smartphone has less firepower than the refurbished XZ1 Compact I mentioned earlier. You do, however, get some other adjustments that may be of more interest to you.
Take the display for example. It’s a reasonably sized 5.2 incher with a 1080x1920 resolution. The camera is a talking point - it shoots in 23 megapixels. You’ll also get a fingerprint sensor, this time on the back. The insides are not as impressive, especially now we’re nearing the £300 price mark. You get 3GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 630.
I’m always amazed at how much staying power Apple’s older handsets have. The iPhone 6 is four years old, but it’s still clinging on surprisingly well. At £279, this device is easily a cheap option for somebody interested in a new condition Apple smartphone. the specifications are a little lacking - you get 1GB RAM and the Apple A8 processor, a step down from the cheaper iPhone SE. The camera is also worse at 8 megapixels. However, you get a larger 4.7 inch 750x1334 display. For some, this may make the price point worthwhile. And like before, this device can be upgraded to iOS 12.
Usually £379, the Galaxy A8 is currently £299 right now, making it fit snugly into our ‘under £300’ price point. It’s easily the best bang for your buck device in this list.
For this price, you get a beautiful 5.6” 1080x2220 display, 4GB RAM and Samsung’s powerful Exynos 7885 octa core processor. On top of that, Samsung has thrown in a 16 megapixel camera that performs reasonably well. You get a 3,000mAh battery and a fingerprint sensor is placed on the back, under the camera sensor. What’s most noticeable about the Galaxy A8 is its build quality. The Samsung A8 feels like a premium Samsung device, yet it’s 2-3x cheaper than Samsung’s top devices.
Thank you for reading through our guide to the best phones under £300. I really hope the information in this article has been useful to you. If you are interested in any of these devices, you can find them in the giffgaff mobile phones store.