Earlier in our series of the best smartphones under £100, £200 and £300 we saw some great phones for the money that offer a lot of power for a very reasonable price - but all have had their sacrifices. With the best phones under £400, we’re starting to enter what was once flagship territory a few short years ago. With that move, you’ll start to see a lot more recognisable brands amongst the value heroes.
As before, all of our phones are sourced from the effervescent giffgaff mobile phone marketplace. Here, you can find mobiles at a whole range of prices so there’s something to suit everyone. We’ve got five big recommendations in this price bracket to get through, so let’s get started.
5. Samsung Galaxy A51 (£309)
We’ll start with one of the most popular smartphones in this price bracket: the Galaxy A51 from Samsung. This cleverly designed phone uses a modern design with a pinhole front-facing camera in the top centre, thin bezels on all four sides and an impressive quad-camera system that means you have five cameras in total - enough for any occasion, surely? It’s impressive interally too, with an Exynos 9611 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, making it snappy even in the latest games and apps. Samsung’s version of Android 10 is one of the best we’ve tested too, with a lot of sensible feature additions that build meaningfully on top of the default Android toolbox. Given that we’re at just £309, it’s hard to argue against the A51 being the best option for overall value out of all the smartphones we’re highlighting today.
4. Sony Xperia 10 II (£319)
The Sony Xperia 10 II is a confusingly-named but capitivatingly designed smartphone that sees Sony move on from their boxy design for the first time in years. That means out with sharp corners and glass sandwiches, with Sony instead opting for rounded edges and gorgeous 21:9 OLED displays that mimic the elongated aspect ratio of films. This produces a smartphone that looks fantastic in press photos, and one that is perfect for scrolling through Twitter or watching films in their original format. The Xperia 10 II is a mid-range handset, packing in a Snapdragon 665 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Expect three cameras on the back - wide (12MP), telephoto (8MP) and ultra-wide (8MP) - and a selfie cam up front (8MP) - to service your photographic needs. In terms of software, we’re looking at Android 10, the most recently released version. If you have fond memories of classic Sony Xperia handsets, this is a great chance to see what Sony’s all about in 2020.
3. Apple iPhone 8 (Refurbished, £349)
It’s an iPhone - for £349. That’s pretty outstanding, particularly when you consider this is the iPhone that was introduced alongside the iPhone X just a couple of years ago. The iPhone 8 is the last model to come with Apple’s traditional iPhone design, with moderate bezels above and below, and therefore the last best hope for people that don’t get on with the notched display introduced on those newer iPhones. Internally, you get Apple’s still-powerful A11 Bionic chip, backed with 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The cameras are powerful too, with that signature iPhone look for both photos and videos. Happily, you can expect software updates for many years to come, with Apple still supporting the iPhone 6S and beyond for even the upcoming iOS 14 update which is scheduled to arrive later in 2020.
If you need an iPhone and you’ve got a strict budget of £400, this is the best option by far - but if you can stretch for an additional £20, we’d be remiss to not mention the iPhone SE 2020 at £419!
2. Google Pixel 3 XL (Refurbished, £399)
As well as being the architects of Android and the force behind the world’s best search engine, Google have also made some pretty excellent smartphones. The Pixel 3 XL is a great example, with one of the best cameras ever to grace a smartphone and a super-fresh version of Android 10 (soon to be Android 11!). Like the iPhone X and its successors, the Pixel 3 XL comes with a trendy notched display, packing plenty of cameras and sensors into that wedge at the top of the screen, while bezels on the three other sides remain super slim. Internally, the Pixel 3 XL is flagship-grade, though it’s now a couple of years old. Still, there’s a Snapdragon 845 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage - perfectly respectable for a phone at this price point. As you may have guessed from the title, this is a refurbished phone, but it’s listed as being in Like New condition so it should be pretty much immaculate - and as a Google phone, you can expect timely software updates from Google themselves or the enthusiast developer community for many years to come.
1. Samsung Galaxy A71 (£399)
We started this round-up with a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, so it feels fitting that we end it with one too. The Galaxy A71 is a tremendous phone that just barely scrapes in under the £400 budget, combining a modern edge-to-edge AMOLED screen with some pretty powerful hardware: a Snapdragon 730 chipset, backed with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage (!) and a chunky 4500mAh battery. Photography is a strength too, with a 64-megapixel main wide-angle camera on the back plus dedicated macro, depth and ultra-wide cameras. The selfie cam is impressive too, at 32 megapixels. Finally, we’re running Android 10 now, which is the most recent version, so you’ll have the latest privacy and security settings in place on top of unfettered access to the millions of apps in the Play Store. For a few pennies shy of £400, that’s a pretty outstanding package - so it’s easy to see why the Galaxy A71 has gotten nothing but five star reviews on the giffgaff marketplace - and why it’s also is our top pick today.
Thanks for checking out the article and we’ll see you on the next one. I hope you found the recommendations useful! Let me know what you thought on Twitter @wsjudd.
For more recommendations, check out the rest of the series linked below:
Thumbnail image credit: Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels