The Best Value Smartphones - Cost v Features

Selecting a new smartphone can be difficult, so we’ve done the tricky maths for you. 

Every year smartphones get smarter. They’re packed with more and more features that guarantee to appeal to each and every person - it’s hard to keep up! We now have a wide range of high-quality crafted devices to choose from, and we’re not just talking about Samsung and Apple. Xiaomi, Google, One Plus and Oppo, amongst others, have released some incredible smartphones recently too. 


When it comes to the cost of smartphones, don’t be intimidated by the increase in quality of the features and relate it to cost. While quality is increasing, price in some respect is decreasing, especially when you can buy refurbished devices with Reboxed.

First things first...

What should you look for in a smartphone?


There’s plenty to consider when picking the best value smartphone and although much is down to personal preference, it’s worthwhile knowing what matters and what doesn’t before handing over the credit card. Good thing is, we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you. We’ve answered some of the most important questions before doing a close comparison of popular devices based on camera quality, display, and battery life.


Is it cheaper to buy my phone outright or on contract?


More often than not, buying a phone outright is cheaper than going for a contract deal. If you have the cash, we recommend grabbing yourself a cheap handset and sorting out the SIM later. You could even sell your current phone and use the cashback to upgrade. If you can’t pay outright then you might opt for a long-term contract deal with low monthly payments - but these usually end up being more expensive over time.

Looking for a good deal on a SIM-only plan? Check out Honest Mobile - the UK's only carbon negative network. Use code reboxed to get 50% off their first month.


Will battery life affect the price?


Battery life and budget phones rarely go hand-in-hand. For example, the best performing iPhone might set you back £929 (check out our ranking of best iPhones for battery life here). 


However, sometimes a low price doesn’t necessarily mean poor battery, as seen in handsets from Samsung (£249) and Motorola (£122) promising phones that can go a whole day on only one charge.


Definitely keep an eye out on the phone’s battery capacity (in mAh) if you want your phone to last longer. As a rule of thumb - the higher the number, the longer you can expect the batter to last on a single charge. 


What should I look for in a smartphone display?


Flagship phones fitted with high-resolution screens can be expensive so it’s worth looking at good-quality alternatives that can bring down the price. For example, the Samsung s8 (£179) has a resolution of 2960x1440 pixels in comparison to the Samsung Galaxy s21 Ultra (£1149) which has a resolution of 1440 x 3200 pixels.


Will the phone performance affect its price?


Smartphone tech is moving so quickly that the best cheap phones of 2021 are more powerful than flagship smartphones of just a few years ago. The buzz words to look out for are clock speed (GHz) and RAM. We recommend anything over 2.3 GHz and 4GB RAM to get you started.


How much storage do I need?


This one’s a tough one because it really depends on what you’re planning to do on your phone. We recommend anything over 16GB to get you started and you can always upload any extra information to a data cloud.


Okay, now let’s get into the best value smartphones of 2021:


Apple iPhone 12


With four variations of the iPhone 12 available (more than ever before), you can expect great features and benefits. The current price for a refurbished regular flagship iPhone 12 starts from £599 for 64GB, £649 for 128GB and £699 for 256GB. Currently, the iPhone 12 is the most popular phone for many around the world.


When compared to the iPhone 12 to the iPhone 12 Pro, there are many similarities including design, 5G support, wireless charging, Face ID, cameras and processor but you’re looking at around £809 price tag for a refurbished iPhone 12 Pro 128GB


Looking back, the iPhone 12 has had some revolutionary improvements from its predecessor, the iPhone 11 which comes in at £449 for the 64GB. The iPhone 12 has improved on the processor within the smartphone, upgrading with the speedy and fluid A14 Bionic processor. 


However, It’s important to note that the iPhone 12 doesn’t have the telephoto camera that is available on the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max which may be an issue for some and may be worth the higher price

Google Pixel 4A


In simple terms, the Google Pixel 4A is ultimately the near-perfect smartphone for an incredibly low cost. When it comes to features for the price, this smartphone is a no brainer.


Packed in a compact size, with a clean 5.81-inch OLED display with Full HD+ resolution. Although maybe considered basic, the price can not be ignored. Currently retailing around £349 with 128GB, the Google Pixel 4A is £350 less than a refurbished iPhone 12, which is extremely telling. However, when it comes to features, the iPhone 12 is far superior. 


Possibly the most significant feature of the Google Pixel 4A is the camera. Featuring two cameras, 8MP at the front and 12.2MP at the rear, which surprisingly is unusual compared with other mid-tier smartphones currently available on the market. The back 12.2MP camera does allow for 4K filming at 30fps, which is a nice feature, but nothing too impressive when compared to other smartphones available, but it does hold its own. 


Although there are not many complaints due to the price of this incredible smartphone by Google, there are still some negatives when it comes to the Google Pixel 4A. Most notably, the mediocre battery life, no wireless charging, and no 5G compatibility. 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro


This smartphone is great for the gamers out there. It boasts an impressive Snapdragon 732G processor allowing you to experience an immersive gaming experience. The Redmi Note 10 Pro has a modest 6.67" size, with a sizeable 120Hz OLED display. 


When it comes to price, the Redmi Note 10 Pro is currently retailing from £219, which should be considered an absolute steal. However, this isn't anything new to Xiaomi devices as their range of products are often low priced but are packed with fantastic technology and features.

Aside from not being a 5G smartphone, the only other noticeable issue is the video stabilisation. Although you can capture 4K with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, you will encounter stabilisation when recording above 1080p resolution.

Samsung Galaxy A52

The Samsung Galaxy A52 may not be as high-quality in design compared to the more flagship Samsung Galaxy phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S20, however, the features within the Samsung Galaxy A52 are still fantastic for the small price you’ll pay. For starters, the Samsung Galaxy A52 includes 5G connectivity, which is a must-have for many 2021 smartphone buyers. 


Currently, the Samsung Galaxy A52 costs around £399, making this an excellent price for those Android lovers who don't want to break the bank. 


You could call this a smartphone for streaming your favourite TV shows and movies due to the impressive 6.5 inch, full HD+, 120Hz display. With the added feature being 800 nits of brightness and a 4500 mAh battery, you will certainly be hard-pressed to find a better, more affordable smartphone for watching the shows you love.


The Samsung Galaxy A52 also comes in multiple colours, with each colour being IP67 dust and water-resistant. Nice!

The low down:


The Apple iPhone 12 is the best phone available for quality, features, and price compared to rival top-tier smartphones in 2021. 


If you’re sticking with Apple, two other great smartphones available at an affordable price include the iPhone XS (£299) and the iPhone XR (£299).


If you are looking for a great phone at a lower cost, you can give the Google Pixel 4A, Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro or the Samsung Galaxy A52 a go. For even more affordable options, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S9 are worth considering too.


Reward your pocket and our planet by grabbing yourself to a refurbished iPhone 12 from reboxed. Plus we’ll plant 5 trees for every phone sold to offset it lifetime CO2 emissions.

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