Get the facts before you buy a cheap mobile phone and what is the Best budget smart phone in 2018.
Like everything, all mobile phones are built to a budget be it big or small but if you are looking to purchase your own phone off the shelf then it is very easy to end up buying something that is not adequate for your needs. Here in this guide I will explain the good and the bad so at least one is better prepared when making a purchase.
Memory & Storage
Many of the cheap, sub £60 phones have only 4Gb of storage. This is often referred to as memory, rom, ram or storage. This means:
- Virtually no room for updates or extra apps
- May need an SD card for extra storage
- May be better off not connecting to a Google account.*
- It will do the job just fine for only calls and texts.
*Why shouldn’t it be connected to a Google account? Read on….
Connecting to a Google account means the phone will automatically be set up for sending and receiving emails via the Gmail app. The Gmail app and all other apps plus the system will want to update – it won’t be long before the phone runs out of space. Even though a Micro-SD card can be fitted it’s likely one wont be able to move pre-installed apps to it – use the SD card for storing photos or music copied from your computer.
“Light user with just a few apps – 8Gb storage will probably do the job”
“Heavy user with lots of apps – at least 16Gb storage is a must”
What size do I go for?
If you want to use just a few apps then a phone with 8Gb may do the job but check out reviews first – they help a lot. If you need more than a few apps then one should consider no less than a 16Gb phone. 1Gb is usual, 2Gb is far better however, some models only have 512mb and these should generally be avoided for anyone other than the lightest of users.
A great choice is the Motorola G4 : Although this phone is a little older because the Moto G5 and Moto G6 have since come out the Moto G4 is still a fabulous phone if you are on a tight budget. As a bonus it does have a great battery life and will upgrade to Android 7.11. The display is a good size at 5.5 inches and the text size can be increased to make it very comfortable to those of us who struggle with the small stuff.
What about updates?
When you purchase a cheap smart-phone it may state that it runs anything from Android 4.2 up to Android 6. When you turn it on and set it up it will eventually update and you may get one or two system updates but do not expect to get much more – you may not get any although Apps will want to update. As I mentioned earlier on with only 4Gb of storage the system will have already consumed half of it or more and with Apps and updates it’s likely to run out of space, this can result in not being able to send or receive messages etc and a constant reminder to free up space. If it has only 4Gb then consider it for just text messaging and calls, by all means use the WiFi / data connection to Google search but don’t add a Google account, then it won’t update and it will work just fine.
Beware the cheaper brands
I’m not knocking any brand in particular but I have in my own experience had some awful handsets because they have poor audio quality, unfriendly menus and navigation, awful sound effects and crappy apps that one cannot remove. There are also cheaper handsets that boast extra memory and the latest software but under the skin there often lies and older, slower processor and only 1Gb or 512Mb of memory, it can mean a slow phone almost unusable when using resource demanding apps and a modern OS. Check reviews on line and read them before you purchase.
Well-known popular brands are more expensive for a reason – they work well. If you want a phone that only does calls and texts and the occasional web search then a Microsoft Windows phone could be the answer. The branded Microsoft or older Nokia models offer excellent call clarity, a fab keyboard and very clear text messaging. App support is dismal but then that’s fine in my view as the Windows mobile OS is fast and without lag on a good handset, if just for calls and texts plus good picture support. You can pop in a Micro-SD card, turn on the phone and it will usually ask you if you would like to save all pictures and apps etc to the SD card, it’s a great feature and in my own experience very user friendly. Don’t worry that these phones are not well supported by Microsoft and other platforms because they will continue to to do these basic functions very well for some time, after all there are loads of people still happily using mobile phones long considered obsolete.
Android Pay There are many cheap Android phones from foreign markets that are missing the required security features that installing Android pay (and other payment platforms) demands. NFC is also required so look out for this.
How about a basic flip or bar phone
These are great when it comes to having just a basic phone. But these days text messaging can be just as important. A lot of the cheap basic flip or bar phones do not have predictive texting, if that’s important to you then you may want to choose a budget smartphone instead. Of course, most of the older Nokia, Sony, Motorola and similar models from the pre-touch screen era will likely have predictive text (often called ‘T9’). From the choice of modern flip phones the Doro range does have predictive texting although there are plenty of common words one may have to ‘add to it’s dictionary’ making long text messages tedious but possible. However Doro phones do have a lot going for them when it comes to simplicity and clear text with excellent sound, you can see my Doro phone review here.
Other than this one can pick up a cheap , new for less than £25. As one would expect the basic phones are far more resistant to being dropped and battery life tends to be much better than many of the smartphones around.
Thank you for reading. The information here is based purely on my own user experiences with many mobile phones – I’ve had more than I care to admit. My work involves me helping others with their computers, tablets & phones. In short I have been largely disappointed with any Android phone that has less than 8Gb of storage but it has to be said that technology is constantly changing especially with phones and therefore the information here should be used as a guide while one checks out reviews and specifications, some adverts do have incorrect information.
Some Samsung smartphones tend to have that bit extra memory – 1.5Gb + and it gives the software a welcome boost. Sim free or Unlocked means the phone will take a sim from any network. *Three network needs a 3G phone*(Even if you don’t want to use the 3G bits).
In short – Smartphones: A Micro SD card is always recommended.
4Gb storage / 512mb memory = Fine for just calls & text, can be slow, no spare space. – must have Micro SD card for storing photos & music.
8Gb storage / 512mb memory = As for the 4Gb above but more space.
8Gb storage / 1Gb memory = Generally a good phone with adequate space for a handful of apps.
16Gb storage / 1Gb+ memory = A good all round phone with plenty of storage.
Note: iPhone 3, Windows phone7, Blackberry etc – WhatsApp has removed support. more info on WhatsApp’s website here
Microsoft Ended support for Windows phone 8.1 on July 11th 2017 (Your phone will still work just fine), more information here
Apple : iPhone 5, 5C & iPad 4 will not be able to get iOS11. More info here
Other than the manufacturers website one can Google a specific phone to get specifications but make sure you search the correct model. A good website to find specs on many phones is gsmarena, especially to double check advertised features are correct. Follow this link to go there.
Good luck in your choice and I hope this information has helped.
Here is a comparison chart of mobile phones that highlights some things one may want to consider before reaching out for what seems like a bargain. It’s a PDF so click here to view.