There are many smartphones available on the market that won’t break the bank, whilst providing similar core features to the big-budget variants.
To help you find the right handset, we’ve gathered together the best budget smartphones you can pick up in 2023, looking at their performance, displays, battery life and much more.
We also provide a wide selection of budget-friendly contract phones, alongside the devices seen below, to suit your individual needs.
When it comes to creating powerful smartphones that are affordable, Honor knows its stuff. The X7a is a prime example of this focus, and it impresses with fantastic visuals and performance.
As we highlighted in our rundown of the top recommended Honor smartphones, a lot of visual fidelity is squeezed out of the X7a’s 6.75” LCD display. Combined with a 90Hz refresh rate, there’s a lot to like about this plucky screen and how it showcases media with high levels of detail.
Keeping games, films and apps running smoothly on this impressive display is the Mediatek Helio G37 chipset. Once again there’s little compromise here, with this CPU being capable of reducing lag and stutter significantly.
The Honor X7a’s 6000mAh battery is the cherry on top of this excellent cake, with approximately a full day of use possible, even when running games and other demanding apps
Honor have produced an amazing budget phone option here, ideal for gamers, those who enjoy video streaming, or those who simply want to use their phone consistently throughout the day.
Motorola Moto E13
Coming from Motorola is the Moto E13: a budget-friendly smartphone choice that’s both a visual treat, and a fantastic companion for those that enjoy great sound from their handset.
This great sound is delivered by the Moto E13’s Dolby Atmos-supported speakers, which allow for fully immersive 3D sound. If you’re streaming an action film, this means the gunshots and explosions sound like they’re coming from all around you, making it a must-have feature if immersion is vital to your cinematic experiences.
Having this level of sound quality at budget level is nothing short of fantastic, and you can view everything on a 6.5” LCD display at 60Hz refresh rate, which helps apps run with minimal stutter.
As with many of Motorola’s standout budget phones, the Moto E13 also features a large 5000mAh battery, which keeps you gaming and watching films on-the-go for longer.
iPhone SE 3rd Generation
Apple have designed the SE series to be the affordable entry point into the world of iPhones. The 3rd generation of the SE series continues to offer exactly that, whether you’re new to iPhones, or a veteran user who wants to switch to a lower price option, without losing many of the premium model’s core features.
An immediate comparison to make between the 3rd generation iPhone SE and mainline handsets is its size, coming in at 138.4mm in height. Where you may struggle to fit the larger iPhones into every pocket, the SE 3rd Gen slides away with ease. This does mean you’re receiving a smaller 4.7” screen; however, the pocket-friendly design of the SE 3rd Gen makes it a better option if you’re concerned about transporting it around.
Despite this smaller display, the SE 3rd Gen’s visual capabilities are still superb. The Retina HD technology within the screen showcases films and games with a high level of quality, helping colours pop whether you’re indoor or outdoor.
Speaking of outdoor; the SE 3rd Gen is also one of the best budget phones for taking photos. Its 12MP wide camera and 7MP selfie lens are two of the best cameras within the iPhone range, and are capable of a multitude of camera shots, from taking detailed images from afar (thanks to the 5x digital zoom), to crystal-clear selfies.
Smart HDR 4 pushes the SE 3rd Gen’s photography chops one step further by automatically ensuring photos have true-to-life contrasts and lighting throughout. This feature runs in the background, and is powered by the phone’s lightning-fast A15 Bionic chipset: the very same found in the iPhone 13.
There’s no doubt about it; if an affordable iPhone is your next smartphone purchase, or you know someone who is looking to get into Apple’s iconic series, the iPhone SE 3rd Gen is a must-have.
Google Pixel 6a
We described the Google Pixel 6a in our review as an ‘affordable powerhouse’, and for good reason. As a budget-friendly smartphone option, the Pixel 6a is a top contender, thanks to fantastic performance and continuing Google’s trend of offering some of the best photography tools on the market.
This high level of performance is courtesy of the Pixel 6a’s Tensor chipset, a powerful little CPU that can handle any task thrown at it. Whether you’re gaming or streaming videos, the Tensor CPU ensures there’s minimal lag or stutter.
A smooth performance is vital for many tasks, but particularly when engaging in a spot of photography.
When taking a photo, there’s a lot of computation that goes on under the hood to get them looking their absolute best. The Pixel 6a has the processing power to make taking photos a breeze, so you can open the camera app, capture a moment, and edit it in one smooth action.
We can’t talk about the Pixel 6a then without highlighting its excellent camera tools. Its 12.2MP main camera and 12MP wide-angle lens can take photos with superb detail. Real Tone simultaneously runs in the background to help these photos look accurate to real-life; if a building is shaded a particular colour, the Pixel 6a will capture that very same shade, instead of looking washed-out.
Every photo you can take can be viewed on the Pixel 6a’s beautiful 6.1” HDR OLED display, which at this price point, is a winning inclusion.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 11
One of 2022’s standout affordable smartphones, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11, is recommended again in 2023, packing in an incredible amount of quality for a budget phone.
The fast Snapdragon 680 processor allows for quick switching between apps and tasks: excellent performance for the price. This CPU is also supported by up to 6GB RAM, which frees up the Snapdragon 680 to prioritise more demanding tasks, such as gaming or watching high-quality videos.
Visually, the Redmi Note 11 is no pushover either, with a 6.43” AMOLED display running at up to 90Hz refresh rate; this creates a silky-smooth image with minimal stutter. Getting an AMOLED screen at this price level immediately makes the Redmi Note 11 a contender for best budget smartphone, as you’re able to take advantage of the stunning colours and contrasts that only OLED technology can provide.
Capping off the Redmi Note 11’s excellent features is a triple camera array, which includes a 50MP sensor and 8MP ultrawide lens. Whether it’s large landscape vistas or detailed portraits, the Redmi Note 11 can capture these photos without breaking a sweat.
Gaming on-the-go doesn’t have to require a dedicated gaming system. The Honor 50 possesses a ton of power at an affordable price, making it a great option for mobile gaming on a budget.
To keep games running smoothly with minimal lag, the Honor 50 has a Snapdragon 778G chipset, flanked by 6-8GB RAM (dependant on the model purchased). These fast processing speeds support the 6.57” OLED panel, which presents vibrant colours and inky blacks at a buttery-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. 5G connectivity keeps online drop-outs to a minimum and enables fast downloading of games and apps.
With the 4300mAh battery and 66W charging, you can get back to 100% in just under an hour; a superfast recharge if you’ve been running the latest games and 5G together.
Our list of the best budget smartphones you can buy in 2023 includes a wide variety of makes and models. If you’re interested in learning more about the top Honor phones on the market, check out our breakdown of the handsets that have excelled in this range.
For the very best contract, upgrade or SIM free deals, be sure to take a look at the huge range of handsets available at Mobiles.co.uk.