Best phone under £300: Price
It’s worth noting, before you look at the phones below, that we’re defining a mid-range range phone as one which you can buy for under £300 (as low as £150 which is the higher limit of our budget phones chart).
The price criteria means that this list includes new phones which fit the price bracket but also older ones, namely flagships, which have since dropped in price but are still readily available and make for a great buy. You may need to ignore the RRP listed as this was correct at the time we published the review or updated it since. Live pricing means you can see how much they are right now.
Because the star ratings are also decided at the time of publishing they are not always comparable so please bare this in mind too while browsing the list. The phone at the top spot might not be the right one for you, depending on your needs and tastes.
Best phone under £300: Specs
It’s very hard to define a mid-range phone by specs because some will offer more in a particular area. For example, some manufactures will give you the best cameras possible while others will focus on design or the screen.
Which phone is right for you will depend on many things, such as whether you’re bothered about looks or pixels per inch. It’s certainly true that the previous generation flagship phones from the likes of LG, HTC and Sony are going to get you good bang for your buck now they are cheaper. However, rivals such as OnePlus and Xiaomi simply offer decent specs at an already mid-range price.
Remember, we’ve hit something of a ceiling when it comes to smartphone tech so many of these phones aren’t exactly far off some of the new high-end phones of this year.
Best phone under £300
1. LG G4
LG has gone down an unexpected route with leather models which we like apart from a couple of colours. The so called ceramic model will be cheaper but feels cheap and plasticky. On the whole, hardware is once again strong – particularly the camera – but not massively different from the G3 and has tough competition. We feel build quality could be better with a metal frame and dimensions going down, not the reverse. This is the flagship to go for if you want a removable battery and expandable storage but it’s a shame to see features like wireless charging dropped.
2. HTC One M9
The HTC One M9 is a genuinely desirable smartphone with the best design and build available in Android land, even with Samsung upping the ante. It’s good to see the powerful Snapdragon 810 and more memory, however, some key hardware remains the same meaning M8 users are unlikely to be tempted to upgrade – and the old model is now an attractive buy at around £350. The fact the Galaxy S6 is the same price with more impressive specs is also not a good thing for HTC.
3. Huawei P8
The Huawei P8 has excellent design and build for a price lower than other flagship rivals. On the whole hardware is decent too, particularly in the photography department. However, poor performance and buggy software taint the experience to frustrating level which make it very difficult to recommend.
4. Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
The Xperia Z3 compact is great little smartphone offering pretty much everything available on the full-size Z3 (including PS4 Remote Play and High-Res audio) apart from a Full HD screen. The new design is thinner and lighter plus the display is bigger than previously. At £349, this is not only the best mini smartphone you can buy, it’s one of the best smartphones around.
5. Sony Xperia Z3
The Sony Xperia Z3 is undoubtedly a decent and desirable smartphone but Z2 owners will have little reason to upgrade unless PS4 Remote Play or High-Res audio are must-haves. In terms of the wider market, the Z3 is up there with the best and a solid choice even if it doesn’t have the amount of bells and whistles which others do.
6. Honor 7
Honor has once again impressed us with a flagship smartphone at an outrageous price. For under £250 you get a lot of phone for your money. Performance is good with the main camera and fingerprint sensors being the highlights on the hardware side. Emotion UI isn’t our favourite Android skin but it’s perfectly usable and you can always change it if you like.
7. Google Nexus 5X
Those looking to upgrade from a Nexus 5 will be happy and sad in almost equal measure. The 5X is a fantastic phone overall, with excellent cameras, a good turn of speed and an excellent screen. But it’s noticeably bigger than its predecessor despite the small increase in screen size, it has limited storage compared to the Nexus 6P and it lacks a couple of camera features due to the slower processor. The absence of wireless charging is another blow for some, but additions such as the fingerprint scanner will make it a great upgrade for others.
8. Xiaomi Mi 5
A fantastic Android flagship that comes in at an outrageously low price, the Xiaomi Mi 5 has the braun and the beauty to match the greats. Perhaps not a wise choice for first time Android users, but those comfortable in customising the setup will love the excellent-value, gorgeously designed Xiaomi Mi 5.
9. HTC One A9
We prefer the design of the One A9 to the flagship One M9 and it does have a decent fingerprint scanner. However, these things combined are not enough to justify buying it instead of its bigger brother or various even cheaper Android rivals. HTC has made a nice phone in the One A9 but its price tag is hugely misjudged.
10. Apple iPhone 5S
The iPhone 5S is still a decent phone, but our current advice is to go for the iPhone SE if you can afford it. Although it doesn’t have an upgraded screen compared to the iPhone SE, the huge leap in performance and camera quality makes it a much better – not to mention more future-proof – choice.
11. Samsung Galaxy S5
Things haven’t changed much from the Galaxy S4 but Samsung, as usual, has packed the Galaxy S5 with features. However, a lot are somewhat unnecessary. The heart rate monitor is a prime example and while the fingerprint scanner is cool, it’s difficult to use. There is some top end hardware here, particularly the screen, but nothing which stands out in a busy and competitive market. A key element is that the design of the Galaxy S5 falls short. It’s plastic, looks like every other Samsung handset and doesn’t feel premium. Galaxy S4 users needn’t upgrade and anyone looking for a flagship smartphone can get better elsewhere.
12. Motorola Moto G4 (2016)
Although the new Moto G4 is more expensive than the third-generation, Motorola is offering a Full HD screen, better processor, more storage and memory. Not everyone will enjoy the jump to 5.5in or the lack of full waterproofing but this is still a brilliant phone for under £200. Just bear in mind that the 3rd-gen Moto G is now a great buy at £149 and the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 offers similar specs for just £125 (albeit SIM-locked).
13. Motorola Moto X Play
Overall, the Moto X Play is a decent mid-range phone. But, it’s not the great upgrade which Moto X owners were looking for. The camera is good, as is the screen, but performance could be better – as could battery life. Had Motorola offered the dual-SIM version in the UK and made the phone waterproof, it would have had enough to be a decent alternative to the OnePlus 2. For many, this more powerful rival will be more appealing. It’s also cheaper and has optical stabilisation and the option to shoot 4K video. Yet, if you like the idea of creating your own custom phone and don’t want the hassle of getting an invite to buy a OnePlus 2, it’s really not a bad deal at all.
14. OnePlus X
The OnePlus X was the best value smartphone of 2015. We love the premium design in a smaller form factor to the firm’s other phones. Software is a strong point and you get a gorgeous screen. However, cuts had to be made somewhere and the X is lacking features such as NFC, 11ac and Wi-Fi. It also is missing the fingerprint scanner and USB Type-C port found on the OnePlus 2. Battery life isn’t great and cameras aren’t best in class but this is a great phone for the price.
15. Motorola Moto G4 Plus (2016)
The Moto G4 Plus is a nice phone but it’s very similar to the regular model. Since we’re disappointed in the camera (with no noticeable difference), it’s not worth paying the extra money to get a fingerprint scanner which can’t even be used with Android Pay since there’s no NFC. The only real reason to opt for the Plus is to gain more storage and the extra RAM which comes with the 64GB model; however, the Micro-SD card slot negates this somewhat.
16. Samsung Galaxy A5 2016
The Galaxy A5 2016 is an enormous improvement over the Galaxy A5 2015, and now resembles last year’s flagship Galaxy S6. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as fast or feature-packed as that phone, making its now-£50 price difference seem insane. If you can afford the Galaxy S6 we’d recommend it over the A5, but if not you won’t be disappointed with this excellent mid-range Android phone.
17. OnePlus 2
The lack of NFC, a microSD card slot, a removable battery, and quick- and wireless charging means the OnePlus 2 is not a flagship killer. It does have some killer new features though, including USB Type-C, 4G dual-SIM support and some powerful hardware. At the reduced price of £249 (we don’t recommend the 16GB OP2), it’s an unrivalled deal.
18. Honor 5X
The Honor 5X is another great value phone from Huawei’s sub-brand. It offers excellent design and build with some solid specs too. It is missing some elements such as NFC and 11ac Wi-Fi so you might be better off spending a little more on the Honor 7, especially now it’s dropped to £209 (on offer). Software is once again not a strong point with EMUI still not convincing us as a top Android skin so take a look at some cheaper devices like the Moto G, too.
19. Vodafone Smart Platinum 7
After time with the Smart Platinum 7 it becomes very clear that this is a premium phone, but one attempting to be ever so slightly more premium than it actually is. If you want the best Android phone on the market, get a Samsung Galaxy S7. However if you want to buy a smartphone outright without breaking the bank and are after a larger screen, fingerprint sensor, stock Android and great design (on Vodafone’s network) then this is a solid choice. We do recommend the OnePlus 3 which is almost the same price, though.
20. Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
The mid-range smartphone market is always tricky, especially with budget devices getting so good. If you are looking for something around this price, the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua is a solid choice although the Honor 6 is worth a look for extra features. It offers flagship-like design, a great camera and a user-friendly Android Lollipop.