Tips for Selecting a Budget Smartphone

By Staff Reporter - 6 January 2021

Opinion and Features

Nowadays, we do not need high-end or flagship smartphones anymore to enjoy a good user experience, thanks primarily to competition. While the smartphone market was almost controlled entirely by Samsung and Apple at one point, with HTC, LG and the like just sticking around, that is no longer how things are anymore.

Nowadays, we do not need high-end or flagship smartphones anymore to enjoy a good user experience, thanks primarily to competition. While the smartphone market was almost controlled entirely by Samsung and Apple at one point, with HTC, LG and the like just sticking around, that is no longer how things are anymore. Tough competition from newer brands and the rapid evolution of smartphone technology have managed to not only bring the price of phones down, but they have also made low – mid range devices much more useable than they were at one point in time, not too long ago. If you are looking for a new budget smartphone, here are some tips that will help you out.

Apple and Samsung are No Longer Your Only Options

Samsung and Apple are still among the top smartphone manufacturers and sellers in not just the UK, but pretty much the entire globe. However, the competition is not that far behind anymore, with the likes of Xiaomi and Huawei even beating Apple in international sales. To get a better idea of what we are discussing here, go through the smartphone market holder’s global rankings in Q3, 2020, as mentioned below:

1.Samsung shipped 80.2 million units, capturing 23% of the global market

2.Huawei still holds the second position with 14.9% (51.7 million units) of the market, despite its gradual downfall after being severed from Android

3.Xiaomi is at the third position with 13.5% market share, after shipping 47.1 million units and showing an astounding growth of 45%

4.Apple managed to lose 1% of the market share globally, and currently holds only 12.4% of the smartphone market

5.Vivo displayed a growth of 6% this quarter (31.8 million its shipped), capturing 9.1% of the global market

The only reason Samsung even saw a 2% growth is because they finally decided to cut back on their profits, releasing some pretty decent handsets in the mid-range segment. They have finally come to terms with the fact that their flagship handsets alone cannot help them hold onto the crown anymore. This is good news for the budget conscious consumers of course, given that it only adds to their choice of options. Even Apple realised that the iPhones 12 series alone is not going to cut it anymore, which is precisely why the iPhone SE (2020) was released. The point is, you can now buy a good smartphone at a decent price from more than just one or two manufacturers.

Don’t Get Caught in an Expensive Contract

Carriers will often offer mid – high end smartphones at a slightly reduced price, complete with the lure of instalments. For someone looking to find budget options, it’s best not to get caught in an expensive contract. Although you might be able to enjoy a higher end smartphone than what your present budget may allow right now, you will end up paying a lot more in the long term, thanks to the attached expensive phone plans which your carrier will put you on. Also, you won’t be able to use the phone with any other SIM card, and the SIM won’t work with any other smartphone either. In other words, if you buy a phone from a carrier, you will be stuck with it for the entire term of the contract. You will also have to pay the minimum monthly plan amount + the monthly instalment amount for your new smartphone. To put it in simpler words, if you are looking for a budget friendly smartphone, don’t get caught into a carrier’s contract!

Lower Your Initial and Continuing Phone Expenses with a SIM Only Plan

The best SIM only deals come from providers that do not hold you under any contractual binding whatsoever. Whatever plan a customer chooses, they will get 30 days of usage, and at any point during those 30 days, they can either change the plan, or cancel the automatic renewal process. All SIM only deals from Lebara come with this flexibility, and you can fit their independent SIMs inside any phone that we will be listing later on, provided of course that it’s either unlocked, or wasn’t ever locked to begin with. Don’t forget to compare SIM only deals in each price range, because there are subtle differences between them all, even if two plans are priced equally.

Foreign students and outside employees working in the UK will be happy to know that just by paying £10/30 days, they can have access to 500 international minutes of talk time, along with unlimited local calls and text messages. Raise your monthly phone expenditure to just £15 and you will be able to talk with anyone within or outside UK, for as many minutes as you wish. The Unlimited international call facility is limited to 41 nations at the moment though, so do check out the site to know if your home country is on Lebara’s list.

Which Models Are the Most Cost-Effective?

Just because the technology is available to manufacture quality smartphones that don’t cost a ton of money, it doesn’t mean that every budget handset reflects that. Next, we will list a few of the top budget-friendly handsets that are available in the UK right now, so that you can avoid some of the bad buys. The three handsets mentioned next are not just budget models mind you, but they also offer best-in-class smartphone experiences in their respective areas of expertise.

Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC

Refresh rates do matter a lot for that smooth, visual experience which was earlier reserved for iPad Pros only. Now though, we have a bunch of 90Hz and 120Hz displays on flagship Android smartphones, allowing us to see every frame, be it for swiping from one page to another, or while playing intensive shooters, where every extra frame matters.

The Poco X3 NFC on the other hand, happens to be a sub - £200 handset that sports a gorgeous 6.67”, 1080 x 2400 pixels, HDR10 compliant display! If you don’t mind the somewhat average cameras and ordinary build, there’s just no other phone within the price bracket that can offer a better visual experience at this time. Underneath the hood, a huge 5,160mAh battery and the mid-range Snapdragon 732G gaming SoC keeps everything feeling premium.

Realme 3 Pro

Realme may not make the headlines in the UK yet, but the OEM is pretty big in Asia now, pushing even the likes of Xiaomi in some parts from its number one position. The Realme 3 Pro has unbeatable cameras both in front and at the back, competing with and beating most sub - £300 smartphones from more reputed brands. You may or may not like the UI though, because it takes some time to get used to. Aside from the UI, that humongous 6.3”, 1080 x 2340 pixels display, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710, 6GB of RAM, and a 4,045mAh battery is more than enough to recommend it to anyone who is looking for the best camera/overall phone below £200.

iPhone SE (2020)

And finally, we decided to include the unlocked iPhone SE 64GB on this list, which you can buy for less than £375 now, especially during online sales. If you are deeply tied in with the Apple ecosystem, 2020’s iPhone SE is by far the best budget iPhone you can buy now. It will not become outdated anytime soon, as it was released after the iPhone 11 series. The A13 Bionic chipset is extremely powerful, and at par with the Apple iPhone 11 Pro! Put together with excellent rear cameras and a very welcome portability factor (only a 4.7” LCD display), the iPhone SE 2020 is the best budget iPhone ever released.

Although it’s true that budget smartphones cannot replicate the experience provided by flagship devices, the gap between top-tier handsets and mid-range models is closing with every passing year. Rest assured that you will be able to make the most of what you have by choosing any of the three models recommended here.

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