The Seven Best Smartphones On A Budget

There are some great smartphones out there these days, but who says you need to spend big bucks to get an awesome device? Is it possible to buy a smartphone on a budget and still get everything you need? Let us show you the best smartphones on a budget.

Today we're going to look at seven smartphones you can score yourself without having to drop big bucks, but be prepared to buy online: that's where most of these bargains live.

The best websites to visit include MobiCity, Kogan and dMavo. They often carry cheap phones, but be wary to check the warranty on them: you might find yourself stranded with an uncovered grey import.

Without further ado, here are our picks for the best phones on a budget:

Lumia 520

Windows Phone 8 has never been better than on a Nokia, these days, and the once-struggling Finnish manufacturer is now making its comeback, riding high on great phones. The Lumia 520 is set to join the Lumia line-up shortly, and it's a great way to get in on the Windows Phone 8 platform without spending a huge amount of cash.

The Lumia 520 is a 4-inch Windows Phone 8 device with an 800×480 pixel screen, a 1GHz dual-core processor, 512MB RAM, 5-megapixel camera and features the HERE navigation suite of apps.

It has similar specs to other Nokia handsets and you only really take a hit on the quality of the camera and size of the battery when compared to something like a Lumia 720 which is a few $100 more expensive.


Size: 4-inches Processor: 1GHz dual-core RAM: 512MB Camera: 5-megapixel Price: $229 (unlocked) / $179 (Telstra locked)

Kogan Agora

The Kogan Agora is amazing bang for your buck. It's a $149 Android smartphone running stock Android 4.1, and yet it's incredibly versatile, powerful and well-featured for the price point.

It packs in a 1GHz dual-core Cortex A9 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of on-board storage and a 5-megapixel camera. The screen measures 5-inches on the diagonal with a resolution of 800×480. It also has dual-SIM capabilities. The device doesn’t support 4G, instead one slot is 2G and one slot is 3G. The Agora is running Android 4.0.4.

It's a bespoke Kogan offering, so you're only going to get it at the online resellers store. It's well worth a look.


Size: 5-inches Processor: 1GHz dual-core RAM: 512MB Camera: 5-megapixel Price: $149

Nexus 4

The Nexus 4 is one of the more pricier offerings in this list. It tips above the $400-end of the scale, but because it's such good value for money, it warrants a place on our list.

Google built the Nexus 4 based on the LG Optimus G, a phone that costs twice as much. The Nexus 4 is also twice as powerful as anything on this list, but interestingly, you're not paying twice the price.

The 4.7-inch black rectangle is still running a quad-core 1.5Ghz Snapdragon processor, only without the integrated 4G support; it’s still packing 2GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel camera and Gorilla Glass for added protection. The screen is beautiful at 1280×768 True HD IPS Plus and 318 ppi and it runs Android 4.2 for added smoothness and power.

The only differences come in the storage available on-board — Nexus 4 has 8GN and 16GB versions whereas the Optimus has 32GB — and the weight — 139 grams for the Nexus 4 while the Optimus G tips in at 145 grams.

If you can afford to splash $349 for the 8GB model, you'll get incredible value for your money.


Size: 4.7-inches Processor: 1.5GHz quad-core RAM: 2GB Camera: 8-megapixel Price: $349/399

Samsung Galaxy S III Mini

The Galaxy S III Mini is the trimmed down version of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S III model, but that doesn't mean you have to settle for a less than ordinary smartphone.

The Galaxy S III Mini will have a 4-inch screen at 800×480 pixels. That’s 233ppi (pixels per inch), down from 306ppi on the original galaxy. The processor is a dual-core unit clocked at 1GHz, down from the dual-core S4 on the North American Galaxy S III which is clocked at 1.5GHz, and down even further from the quad-core 1.4GHz Exynos processor on the international version. RAM drops from 2GB to 1GB, the battery drops from 2100mAh to 1500mAh, and the camera drops from 8MP to 5MP.

Unlike the full-sized S III that will cost you close to $600, the S III Mini will only set you back $250. Not bad value, really.


Size: 4-inches Processor: 1GHz dual-core RAM: 1GB Camera: 5-megapixels Price: $249

Huawei Ascend P1

Chinese manufacturer Huawei know value. They take the best gear they can, put it into a great looking case and sell it direct to the public for cheap. No fuss, no nonsense.

The Ascend P1 is a slightly older Huawei phone, but it still has a dual-core 1.5Ghz Cortex A9 processor with 1GB of RAM, an eight-megapixel rear-facing camera with 1080p video capture, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, all wrapped into a 7.69mm-thick chassis with a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen. The display runs a native resolution of 540x960 pixels and runs them at 256 pixels per inch (PPI).

It's a little harder to find, but To top it off, you'll be able to pick it up these days for much cheaper than its original recommended retail price.


Size: 4.3-inches Processor: 1.5GHz dual-core RAM: 1GB RAM Camera: 8-megapixel

Sony Xperia X10 Mini

The Xperia Mini is another trimmed down version of an industry flagship. Sony decided it would shrink down the amazing X10 into a tinier package for those who preferred smaller form factors. You do take a bit of a hit when it comes to specs on this one, though.

It's packing an old version of Android 1.6, a 600MHz processor,

It is an older handset, meaning you can get it now for cheap. Most X10 Minis now go for under $100.


Size: 2.55-inch Processor: 600MHz Camera: 5-megapixel Price: <$100

iPhone 4

The iPhone 4 is a few iPhone generations behind now, but it still supports the latest version of iOS 6 and comes with all the bells and whistles you could need.

It's a 3.5-inch slab of glass and aluminium, complete with a 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, a 5-megapixel camera and Apple's Retina Display technology for beautiful images.

Apple maintain a fairly high price point on the iPhone 4, but it's the cheapest way to get into the iOS ecosystem with a smartphone. You can usually pick up an iPhone 4 at major retailers and some telcos for just over $400.


Size: 3.5-inches Processor: 1GHz Apple A4 RAM: 512MB Camera: 5-megapixels Price: ~$400

What's your favourite smartphone on a budget? Tell us in the comments!



    Can you add the Nokia 720 that was just released or is its cost to high?

      Kogan have that for 350, which is cheaper than the iPhone 4, and on par with the Nexus 4

      You can also pick up a Lumia 820 from Kogan or Mobicity for between 300 and 350

      So if the cost was too high for these phones, then you would have to remove the iPhone and the Nexus from the list

        Everything is always cheaper then an iPhone. inb4 downvote.

        Yeah I just had my spare Lumia 620 fail (loudspeaker stopped working) and exchanged it at Hardly Normal for the 720. Much nicer phone as I prefer the bigger screen. Plus the better camera will help my wife at much less expense than a 820 or 920.

      What about the Lumia 620?

    How much is the Huawei Ascend P1 ?

    I'm sorry but come on- $400 is not 'budget'. A student is not going to want to spend $400 on a phone. It may be cheap compared to some models, but I don't think you can fairly state that it's 'budget' - you'd have to be working full time to consider that an inexpensive phone.

      but you cant have a smartphone article on the internet without having the iPhone in it, it's like against the laws of tech journalism or something

        But it is against the law sir.

        I'm sure if there was an article called "What smartphones can I buy that aren't an iPhone?" it would still have iPhone prices/advertisement in there lol.

          Interesting you immediately thought of the iPhone, I was actually reacting to the Nexus.

            Reacting to the Nexus? But the iPhone is the most expensive phone on this list...

            the Nexus is marked as 350-400, while the iPhone is only listed as 400, so it's fair to assume you meant the iPhone even when you didn't

        it says in the article that its a high price point but the cheapest way to get iOS, I can understand that if an article is going to be about smartphones you would include the second most popular OS for comparison.

      agree $400 is not budget but this is Australia where a raisin toast and latte is $8 so its relative. In USA raisn toast and latte less than $5.

      Last edited 23/04/13 12:39 pm

        Only cause you are so tight and didn't tip! :-) haha yeah we pay so much more for everything than usa.

        Only if you don't count the tip, the local taxes, the exchange rate and that American food is nearly all really, really shit!

    Galaxy S2's are pretty damn good still and should be a bargain.

      I agree, Kogan has them for 269 ATM, and with the Agora only running WCDMA, and the S3mini not being quad band, I'd count them out. The S2 has 16GB of memory, is expandable (if you're on a budget it can double as your main music player), and it has plenty of accessories. Iknow... fanboy, but the numbers compare well.

        "...with the Agora only running WCDMA, and the S3mini not being quad band..."
        It's happened. I've lost any understanding of mobile-phone jargon.

          It means that it has less channels available to draw bandwidth from, because certain bands might be available - but not compatable with that handset.

          It's usually not the end of the world but does help with things like using the internet on the train.

    I reckon the HTC 8S definitely deserves to be on this list. Mobiciti have them from $219 and I have been very happy with mine.

      8s qualifies budget but does not qualify "best smartphone", in fact., it's one of the worse smartphone.

        not sure you're providing much else than an opinion there - care to explain?

          compared to the 520....... 8s is no where near as good

            Both have the same size/res display, same CPU and RAM but the Lumia 520 doesn't have Gorilla Glass. The Nokia is also heavier but still has a smaller battery (although it is removable). Both have 5Mp cameras but the Lumia 520 doesn't have a flash (strange but true). About the only advantage I can see in the Lumia 520 is more internal storage which is a bit of a non-issue as both have a microSD card slot. Maybe the 520 has a nicer display (I've not seen one in the flesh) but the 8S's display is perfectly OK. In fact, not being an IPS display is a real advantage because I can check the time in the middle of the night without being blinded by the lock-screen, by looking at it at an angle. (Neat trick, huh?)

            I'm actually thinking of getting a new one in grey/green as that is my preferred colour scheme and passing my black/white one onto my mate. At $219 it's almost a no-brainer.

            Last edited 23/04/13 3:06 pm

              The 4gb on the os makes it practically unusable as an everyday phone. Yes there is internal storage, but it's pretty shocking that as it only has about 2.5/3gb usable internal memory, it will only let you use a few apps before you get memory issues.
              It's a problem with the way win8 handles "other" memory, which they've said they will fix, but have yet to do so.

              It's a shame because i was gonna get rid of my iPhone 4s and get the 8s instead. Gonna sell it now and try and get either the 720 or 820.

    I'm looking for a decent(ish) water resistant smart phone at a non-scarey price. I spend some of my time on roofs repairing storm damage (SES member) and can get totally soaked through. I've a Motorola Defy+, which is waterproof, but it is painfully slow. Any suggestions?

      Sony Xperia V - water proof up to 1meter and 30 minutes (IP57 certified)

      It has 4G support too as a nice bonus (if your with Telstra this means ultra fast data) and it's only $357 at mobicity - looking on ebay may net you a bit cheaper but i have purchased from mobicity before and found them very good.

      Last edited 23/04/13 1:57 pm

    Must admit - the Lumia 520 at $179 to Telstra is by far the best option there in my view.

      not even, you can get it from harvey norman for the same price, unlocked.

        I'm not so sure this is locked to be honest I know 3 people (including myself) with Lumias purchased from Telstra and used on Optus, and fairly sure that under telco legislation in Australia they have to unlock it for free anyway if it's prepaid.

        The main downside is because they are exclusive to Telstra - you don't get the push updates, just the major firmware updates, which kind of sucks.

    Why no Sony Xperia U? not to bad as a budget smartphone and has a removable battery and a nice screen and camera with dedicated button in a 3.5 inch form factor and a dual core ARM A9 based Nova Thor 1GHz CPU. No expandable storage is its downfall as you are stuck at 4GB usable space but supports USB flash memory

    Last edited 23/04/13 12:58 pm

      Er.. No expandable storage.. But it supports USB flash memory? Seems both unlikely that USB flash memory is somehow not external storage, and also unlikely that it supports being a USB host.

        it supports USB OTG so you can plug in external flash drives if you don't know what i mean, and the timescape UI has a nice back up feature using external flash drives

    Lumia 520 from harvey norman is unlocked and only $176.

    Dont have to buy online, not grey import, you get the full 2year nokia Australian warranty.... ect.

      'Grey import' doesn't really apply to technology, only really to cars etc etc where legislation leads to different manufacturing processes.

    The Ascend P1 is a fantastic phone, but tragically it's crippled by having 4GB of onboard space/ROM, which wasn't mentioned.

    Wow, so cheap smartphones, but what about Galaxy S II which is recommended by some users:

    clearly you do not understand the concept of budget. budget would be the $20-100 range. Whoich is what most of these items cost in any other country outside of australia, we get ripped on price big time.

    I LOVE THOSES Phone's

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