Small, budget Android smartphone?

Mrs Snowman’s birthday is coming up, and she’s expressed an interest in a new phone to replace her Nokia Lumia 635. The phone itself is fine; the issue is that it runs Windows 8.1 and that she’s finding more and more that apps she wants to use are only available for Android or iOS.

The problem is that Mrs S has small hands, and doesn’t want a big phone. My iPhone 6 (5 inches) for example is “too big”. The phablet form factor seems to be dominant now, and the only phone I can find which is similar in size to the existing phone (4.5 inches) is the iPhone SE, which is out of the price range.

I’m looking to spend around £150 on this. Research suggests that’s enough to get a decent Android phone (the Samsung Galaxy J5 is around that price and is getting great reviews). The problem is that she really does not want a big phone, to the extent that she’d rather stick with the one she’s got and live with the app shortage if we can’t find a similarly sized one. Apparently that half-inch makes all the difference… (Insert your own punchline here).

I should probably add that she’s not a power user. She’ll mostly be using email, surfing and installing various productivity apps, but there won’t be any gaming or processor-intensive stuff. Likewise, camera-quality probably isn’t a factor, as long as it has one.

All ideas welcome!


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I think it may be hard to find a modern phone that small. Maybe something like the Galaxy S4 mini? It has a 4.3 inch screen.

Hopefully it is comparable to the Galaxy S4, I’m very happy with mine.

The Oppo F1 might be a contender although I’m not sure what the price would be in the UK. It has decent feature set, looks good and is slightly bigger than her current phone.

I have the S4 Mini and it’s been a great phone for me.

That may well be a contender. It’s an older model, but I don’t think that matters. Amazon seems to still sell them new.

That looks nice, but it seems to be a bit too expensive over here.

Thanks both.

I don’t know if 5" is too big for her; I use a 5" phone and I have small hands. Mine is a 2015 Moto G. There are 2 models from 2015. If you get one, get the higher spec version, the lower spec model is slow by all accounts, but the higher spec model is great. And Motorola has so far kept it right up to date with android versions.
The 2016s have just come out, but reading the specs, they add stuff I don’t really need, so I haven’t upgraded.

Wait, wait. £150 is budget?

I was going to recommend something like the $60 BLU R1 HD that Amazon has started to sell.

Spending nearly $200 on a phone is mid-range to me. Not budget.

Yes $ 200 is very much budget - The popular iPhone 6’s and Samsung Galaxy7’s are $700-$800+/-

I shopped budget phones recently for my son. You can get a new unlocked iPhone 5S for around $220 - $260. IMO that’s really about your best deal for that price range for a full featured phone in a small form factor even if it’s one generation off.

I paid $120 for my first smart phone with no contract. 2 years later I bought my second one for $20.00, again no contract. Straighttalk has a several smartphones for under $50.00. $199 is the highest I’ve ever paid for a phone. $200 is not budget.

These things are all relative :slight_smile:

It’s pretty common to refer to phones under £200 as “budget”. You may or may not agree, but that’s the common market perception now.

I think we’ve settled on a Samsung Galaxy A3. The screen size is a bit bigger, but the handset itself is slim and light enough to not be an issue - Mrs Snowman had a play with one in a shop this morning.

Thanks for all the input. :slight_smile:

Agreed. I wouldn’t buy a $50 smartphone, but I have an LG Sunset I bought for $99. It’s 4G LTE. It’s since gone down to $79. Decent performance, good price. Definitely a good phone if you’re on a budget.

Moto E is another option – 4.5 inch screen and very well regarded for a budget phone. I like mine.

Then what do you call actual budget phones? Ones well under $100, maybe even $50? (Unlocked, no contract required. The phones that require service from a particular provider are almost always not budget, no matter the apparent price.)

We’re kind of mixing apples and oranges in this budget/non budget discussion as many of the “budget” phones being referenced are either locked to specific pre-paid “pay as you go” carriers or reflect a discount you get for singing up to 1-2 year plan commitments. in both cases the cost is being heavily subsidized by the carrier and is a locked to one type carrier plan or requires a time contract commitment of 1-2 years.

The cheapest decent new with warranty and unlocked for use with any carrier smartphones start around $200ish. These are budget phones. Quoting the price of a discounted phone that requires a locked carrier or a time commitment is not really comparable.

True, my phone is locked into Straight Talk, but it is possible to unlock it for any GSM carrier, AT&T or T-Mobile. But my monthly plan is low, unlimited, and very generous with 4G data, 10Gb a month. It still only cost me $99, monthly plan ($55) is less than a comparable AT&T or Verizon plan. I still consider it a good phone for someone on a budget.

I have been referring exclusively to unlocked, no contract phones in this thread. My previous post made this very explicit. My first post mentioned an unlocked phone sold by Amazon (vs as sold on Amazon).

If you brought in contract phones to the discussion, it’s worst than comparing apples and oranges. It’s comparing apples and 20 different types of citrus.

You piqued my curiosity. So I looked at the phone you referenced. and, indeed it’s not locked to a carrier, so how are you going to get a mid-lower tier vanilla smartphone for just $ 100 or $50? Where is that free lunch?

The answer is that there is no free lunch and it’s ad based and if you can get by with being peppered by ads while using your phone you’re good to go. While OK for some it’s going to be show stopper for a lot of people who don’t like being forced to constantly see unwanted ads while using their phones. Interesting marketing though.

You can get the exact same phone without ads for $99.99/109.99 and use it with either AT&T or T-Mobile. Seems to me to still be a phenomenal phone at that price, definitely comparable in many respects to the G4 for $50/80 more. It makes me wish I’d waited a few more months before buying my LG phone.

Methods to block the ads on the ad-supported Amazon phones have already been found. And as noted, a born ad-free phone isn’t all that expensive.

Amazon’s ad-supported devices don’t “peppered” people with ads. Amazon is careful to not annoy people too much and send them to the Net to find out how to block them.