If we were writing this article 5 years ago, we'd have to give you the disappointing truth that buying a budget smartphone won't get you too far when it comes to having the latest features. However, in 2022 budget no longer means missing out on great features. So, while headline-topping flagships such as the iPhone 13 Pro Max are wonderful, you can still get a similar user experience for a fraction of the price.
As a whole, technology has become more advanced each year, and more importantly, you can get high-quality handsets with a lower price tag. Gone are the days of digging into the kids' savings funds to afford anything with above-average features. Instead, in 2022, there are countless budget devices, so much so that narrowing them down to a shortlist can be quite a challenge. So, we've done the difficult job for you and gathered our top 5 picks under £300.
Samsung Galaxy A33 5G
Samsung has always kept the industry keen with its flagship S series line-up, the range-topping smartphone that can do just about anything you put in front of it. However, with every new generation, these smartphones are increasingly intelligent, and with that, their prices increase. Now, not everyone wants to pay flagship prices, but most people still want flagship-grade quality, and this is what makes the Samsung A series so impressive.
The Samsung Galaxy A33 is the perfect blend of affordable traits, like an Android 12 UI and high-end hardware, including the new Super AMOLED panel. Samsung's A series devices were expanded earlier this year with the A33 5G alongside its older sibling, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G and the runt of the litter, the A13. The Samsung Galaxy A33 arguably received some of the most substantial improvements over its predecessor, including IP67 water and dust resistance, 4K video, and a whole new 5nm chip, which is 20% faster than last year's Samsung Galaxy A32.
OnePlus Nord CE 2
The OnePlus Nord CE line-up has been a staple of the affordable mobile market since the initial release of the OnePlus Nord CE in 2021. Offering many high-grade features seen on the OnePlus Nord 2's, it's an impressive budget handset with very few flaws and a price we've come to love. Equipped with the latest MediaTek Dimensity 900 Chip, a 64M Triple AI Camera, and a 6.4" 90hz AMOLED Display: OnePlus Nord CE 2 is definitely a little more than you'd expect for £299. And that's not to mention the Nord CE 2's ability to charge from 0-100% in just 32 minutes which is at the same level of many Mid to high range offerings in 2022.
Realme 9 Pro
The Realme 9 Pro is a solid all-around budget device that doesn't seem to cut any corners whatsoever, which is an unusual yet very welcome approach for a handset at this price point. The Realme 9 Pro offers an overall splendid user experience featuring an IPS 120Hz display which, when coupled with the Snapdragon 695 chip, provides a superb gaming experience. What's more, the Realme 9 Pro comes equipped with a flagship-grade 64MP front camera and a brilliant 5000mAh battery capable of 33w fast charging, which is the fastest on this list.
Motorola Moto G82
Motorola's Moto G82 is a light and relatively compact smartphone compared to many others within this price point. The Moto G82 comes in a 6.6-inch AMOLED 120Hz display, among the better displays on this list; however, the main trade-off is the absence of any Gorilla glass protection, meaning you have to be a little firmer on the grasp with this device. The Motorola Moto G82 comes well equipped with three camera sensors: a 50MP main angle lens, an 8MP ultrawide lens and a 2MP macro lens; however, we wouldn't recommend using it for any shots important due to it having such a small sensor. Regardless, the Moto G82 shares a lot of traits seen on the Realme 9 Pro, including the same processor and a 500mAh battery. However, it misses out on the fastest charging spot with its 30W fast charging. Nevertheless, this is still plenty fast at this price point and will power the device from 0-100% in a respectable 62 minutes.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro
Last on this list, but certainly not least, is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro; and my, oh my, is that a mouthful. And with that, so are its specs and what it offers. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro follows up one of 2021's best budget devices, the Xiaomi Redmi 10 Pro, bringing a 6.7-inch Super AMOLED 120Hz display shielded in Gorilla glass 5, which we've come to appreciate at this price point. As well as this, the Xiaomi Note 11 Pro's main focal point is its 108MP primary sensor which is truly impressive for any device in its category. However, with so many premium features on a budget, device corners had to be cut, and it's safe to say the 8MP and 2MP secondary cameras were a little disappointing considering the size of the primary sensor.
As well as this, the Xiaomi Note 11 Pro is the only device on this list to feature an Android 11 OS in 2022. Nevertheless, this is about all we could nit-pick from this device as its 5000mAh battery coupled with 67W fast charging powers it from 0-51% in a mere 15 minutes, which is better than the OnePlus 10 Pro. Now, if that doesn’t crown this C247’s best budget handset of 2022, then I’m not sure what does.
Let us know your thoughts on our 2022 top 5 picks in the discussion box below and whether you’d like to see a follow-up next year.