10 things to consider when buying a budget phone

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These days to get your hands on a half decent smartphone you don’t need to spend obscene amounts of money since there are budget phones all over the place trying to get themselves into your hand/front pocket. While it’s similar to buying a flagship phone, there are certain things you need to be considering before you buy a budget smartphone, here is a list to help you along the way.


1. Battery Life

Battery life is possibly the most important thing to consider when buying any phone, especially when you’re on a budget. It’s all well and good buying a phone for £75, but what good is it if the battery is so poor it only lasts four hours? Budget phones are more susceptible to this because they tend to utilise cheaper components, so you definitely need to keep your eyes open. Manufacturers will often release battery life statistics alongside their phones, but unless you know the exact testing parameters then they’re only a guideline at best. Capacity is another good indicator, but it can’t be 100% relied upon because it could be that the phone in question burns through power faster than a fire burns through petrol. The best thing to get a proper indication of how good a phone’s battery is it to go and do some research and read some reviews. Not only will the reviewers give you a clear idea of how long it will last, they will tell you the criteria they used to determine that and which settings are more likely to drain the battery.

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2. The Display

The display is your primary method of using the phone, especially if it’s a touchscreen. Unlike a flagship device which’ll likely have one of the best displays around, budgets phones are not so lucky.  A good way to be sure you’re not getting something terrible is to check the resolution and pixel density. The lower they both are, the less clear the image in your display will be. If you’re used to something with quite a bit of clarity then something poor will play havoc with your eyes. You’ll also need to do some research and make sure the touchscreen isn’t an abysmal unusable mess. Again, the easiest way to do this is to read some reviews and see what they have to say in order to help you make up your mind.

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3. Mobile data type

It’s becoming less of an issue these days, but you should make sure the phone you’re buying is compatible with the data speed you’re paying for on your contract. The two types that are generally available are 3G and 4G. It’s all to do with what contract you have, so if you’re paying for 3G data then it makes no sense to splash out and buy a 4G handset if a cheaper one is available. Similarly if you’re paying extra for 4G data then you don’t want to waste your money by paying a phone that can’t utilise it fully.

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4. Size

Size is a factor that needs to be considered to some extent. Budget phones aren’t going to come in phablet sizes, that would make them far more expensive, but you do need to make sure it’s not too small. Small is, of course, a relative term, so you need to figure out what is most comfortable for you and your style of phone use.. I, for example, tend to type with my thumbs, and since I have fairly large hands it means the keys on a standard 3- or 4-inch phones are too small and end up making a lot of mistakes. The fact that smaller phones need smaller displays and smaller bodies means that there are going to be plenty of them about in the budget phone market.

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5. Accessories and compatability

It’s no good just to buy a phone, you often need to buy a bunch of stuff that goes with it. That could be a new case, headphones, or whatever. It’s important to see what accessories there are and what  they do because the chances are you’re going to need them. One thing that has popped up recently is wireless accessories, like speakers, which connect via Bluetooth. The problem is that there are multiple versions of Bluetooth technology, and devices that use the newer versions will not connect to phones that use older Bluetooth systems. Many fitness trackers are an example of this since they use Bluetooth 4.0. If your phone uses, say, Bluetooth 3.0 then you’re not going to be able to use it. It’s a relatively minor issue in the grand scheme of things, until it affects you that is.

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6. Storage

Storage is important, not only is it the place where you keep all your files it’s also where the phone’s OS is kept safely. The thing about storage is that you need to decide what you want. Are you happy with it all being internal, or do you want to expand it with a microSD card? If you choose the former than you need to be careful because the cheaper phones are more likely to be stingy with the storage, and if it is, and there isn’t any microSD expansion, then you’e stuck if you find yourself with no space left.

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7. Bloatware

Bloatware is a curse, and affliction, and it affects all phones in some shape or form. The manufacturers aren’t particularly forthcoming about how much they include, which is why you need to go back to the reviews to see how bad it is. If it’s truly unusable, like the Alcatel OneTouch Pop S3 which fills 3GB of its 4GB internal storage space with bloatware, then you’ll be sure to find out. Generally you can’t remove bloatware, which is a pain, so try and pick something that doesn’t have so much it ruins your phone experience.

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8. Operating system

If you’re on a budget you won’t be getting an iOS device, so you you’ll likely be getting something that runs with Windows Phone or Android. But don’t expect to be getting the latest versions, especially with Android. Now this comes with the obvious compatibility issues that comes with older versions, because there won’t be a 100% compatibility factor with the latest apps. It likely won’t be too much of a problem, provided the version your phone uses isn’t too old.

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9. Camera

One of the great things about phones today is that they come with a camera. The problem is that fitting a good camera into such a small place isn’t easy, or cheap, so a cheap phone generally won’t have a very good camera inside compared to something high-end. You need to decide whether this is important to you or not. If it is then you really need to make your peace with the fact that you won’t end up with something rather good on a budget. If you can accept that fact you can try to get hold of the best camera you can. Just remember to pay more attention to the ISO and sensor size rather than the number of megapixels the camera has.

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10. Price

Of course, as with anything of this type, price is an important factor that comes into play. The main thing here is that you’re on a budget, which means that you’ll be looking at devices under £150, or maybe £200 if you’re feeling like splashing out a bit. You’re limit, but if you have a clear maximum amount that you’re willing to pay then you should be able to find yourself something decent, especially when you shop around with the various networks.

Tom Pritchard