We all want more for our money, and that includes when we're looking for our next smartphone purchase. Know that you can get a lot more bang for your buck with a Chinese phone than if you buy from Samsung or Sony's entry-level range.
We've rounded up some of the best budget options for getting a cheap Chinese phone that looks and feels anything but.
If a low price isn't your number-one priority, also check out the best Chinese phones you can buy today.
Best Budget Chinese Phone reviews
1. Realme 6
The Realme 6 is hands-down one of the best budget phones we've ever tested.
It's slightly chunky size won't be for everyone but this is currently the cheapest phone you can buy with a 90Hz display and it also has some decent cameras, speedy performance and solid battery life.
There's very little to dislike, especially when you can get it for just over £200. It can rival phones more than double the price.
Read our full Realme 6 review
2. Xiaomi Mi 9T
It never officially went on sale in the UK, but the Mi 9T is available through some UK distributors.
Until the Mi 9T Pro came along, the Mi 9T was the most balanced Xiaomi phone in the Mi 9 line-up, combining some of the best features of the Mi 9 series to create an affordable and strong all-rounder. Mi 9T Pro is now out of stock pretty much everywhere.
The large notch-less display, its huge battery and a triple-display camera promise to revolutionise the mid-range phone market.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi 9T review
3. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S
The Redmi Note 9S is one of the best budget phones we've seen. This is a fantastic phone for less than £200, a real all-rounder with decent performance and cameras, as well as mind-blowing battery life. The Redmi recorded the longest time in the Geekbench 4 battery life test that we've seen to date.
We are not fans of the rear camera module, and the lack of NFC in some territories is a shame, but those niggles aside it ticks all our boxes at this price point.
A fine example of not a lot of money very well spent.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S review
4. Oppo Reno2
If you already have any other Oppo smartphone, it's probaby not worth splashing out on the Reno 2. For everyone else, it looks like a good option if you want an Android phone with good cameras, excellent performance and long battery.
You may be among those who still do not trust the resilience of motorised cameras. Although we understand your doubts, the wing-shaped design of the Reno 2 seems good and also allows you to have a beautiful screen without notches.
Read our full Oppo Reno 2 review
5. Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
The Note 8 line-up has now been replaced by the Note 9 series, but the Redmi Note 8T is still available and at a lower price it offers extraordinary value.
This is a mid-ranger with a budget price, offering a 48Mp quad-lens camera, a 6.3in AMOLED display, a 4,000mAh battery and a capable Snapdragon 665 processor.
It also adds NFC and 18W wired charging to the standard Redmi Note 8.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T review
6. Oppo A9 2020
The Oppo A9 2020 is a budget handset the manages to excel in multiple areas - with an attractive design, a 48MP quad-camera and a massive 5000mAh battery that outshines even some of the most expensive phones on the market.
It's not without faults, of course. Though the battery life is excellent, there's no fast charging. Though the night mode on the camera is stellar, the user-experience of taking photos really needs refining to be simpler and cleaner.
For the price point, however, you're getting a very good camera smartphone that feels high-end and a device that won't die on you quickly. For these reasons we'd definitely say that the Oppo A9 2020 is a budget contender.
Read our full Oppo A9 2020 review
7. Xiaomi Mi A3
Android One is attractive for its timely system and security updates, and less bloated interface. The Mi A3 from Xiaomi has a few tricks up its sleeve to help it impress in this increasingly crowded market, including some of the most advanced cameras we’ve seen on an Android One phone. Performance is also capable for daily use, and the design is much more appealing than you should expect at this price.
Mi A3 offers incredible value, but if your budget stretches a little higher and you're not fussed about Android One we'd plump for the Mi 9T instead.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi A3 review
8. Xiaomi Redmi Note 7
It's starting to get a little long in the tooth, but it's difficult to argue with the value offered by this mid-range phone with a budget price. Redmi Note 7 remains available from GearBest for just £147.60.
Looking more like the Mi flagship line than any before it, it has a gorgeous all-glass design and rocks an impressive dual-camera with 48Mp lens.
With a big screen and all-day battery life, we love Redmi Note 7's headphone jack and IR blaster, dual-SIM functionality and microSD storage expansion, and given the low price can turn a blind eye to the lack of NFC and premium features such as an in-display fingerprint sensor, wireless charging and waterproofing.
General performance is decent, up there with other Snapdragon 660 phones costing around £350, making this a great all-rounder.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 review
9. Huawei Nova 5T
While some manufacturers are looking for a headline feature to stand out from the crowd, the 5T quietly prioritises everyday usage by mastering the fundamentals of a solid smartphone. The design is superb, cameras great and battery life better than expected.
We are missing some premium features here - wireless charging, expandable storage, OLED display - but it’s remarkable how quickly you can look beyond these when you use the phone regularly.
As a complete package, it has to be considered among the very best mid-range phones you can buy.
Read our full Huawei Nova 5T review
10. Honor 10 Lite
Honor has done it again with the 10 Lite, one of the best budget smartphones you can buy. For just £200 it has the best battery life of a phone in its price range, a large screen and dual cameras.
Those cameras fall down in low light and it's a very clearly a plastic phone but the performance is excellent. It's up there alongside the Moto G range as the best cheap phone about.
Read our full Honor 10 Lite review
11. Honor 9X
The Honor 9X manages to mimic some elements of flagships but for a fraction of the price. With a geometric, shimmery exterior and a notch-free display thanks to a pop-up camera, you'd find it hard to believe that this is a phone below £250 - especially when you take into consideration the camera that comes with it.
Of course it's not without its flaws. The triple lens camera isn't quite as good as the specs suggest, and night mode in particular doesn't hold up, while performance across the board gives away that this isn't as high-end as it looks. But still, you get a lot for the price, and a phone that looks like a lot more.
Read our full Honor 9X review
12. Honor 20 Pro
With flagship phones costing around a grand these days, the option of a much cheaper phone with cameras that are just as good is pretty tempting. You miss out on some high-end features: no wireless charging, no OLED screen and no water-resistance, but in just about every other area the Honor 20 Pro is top notch.
Read our full Honor 20 Pro review
13. Oppo A5 2020
The Oppo A5 2020 is a great affordable option without making too many compromises. With a huge 5000mAh battery, a classy exterior design and a big display, you'd find it hard to believe that it's priced at just £179.99.
Of course the quad camera doesn't quite match up to it's rivals - with just a 12Mp main lens and limited options, especially when it comes to low light. However, at this price compromises are expected, and these downfalls don't quite detract from what is a powerful entry-level phone.
Read our full Oppo A5 2020 review
14. Xiaomi Redmi 7A
The Redmi 7A offers a lot of smartphone for under £100, with a decent camera, great battery life and solid speakers among the highlights.
However, there are a number of frustrations which affect everyday usage, most notably the paltry 2GB of RAM.
If you’re on a strict budget this is a good option, but we’d recommend spending just a few pounds extra to get a more complete experience.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi 7A review
15. Honor 9X Pro
The Honor 9X Pro carries over a lot of the great aspects of the Honor 9X - the versatile camera and fullscreen view - whilst also having an upgrade to the design and processor.
However, not all the changes are positive. This is Honor's first phone without Google features, and it does present a challenge for everyday use if you're invested in that ecosystem.
That aside, you still get a high-end look and feel, plus a great battery life that lasts nearly two days from actual use.
Read our full Honor 9X Pro review
Your buying guide to the best budget Chinese phones in 2020
Many Chinese phones are now officially available in the UK, but you may still find cheaper prices in China through the likes of GearBest. If you're buying from China rather than the UK you'll need to factor import duty into any budgeting decision, which is calculated at 20 percent of the value printed on the shipping paperwork plus an admin fee of around £11.
You'll also have to accept slightly longer delivery times (though free international delivery is offered), and accept that should something go wrong it's going to be more difficult to get your money back.
A big one to watch out for is the cellular bands supported by the phone: some of the more obscure Chinese phones don't support 800MHz 4G LTE. That doesn't mean they won't work at all in the UK, but if your network relies on that frequency alone for 4G then the most you'll get is 3G. This will affect you if you subscribe to an O2, GiffGaff, Tesco or Sky Mobile tariff.
Talking of contracts, you won't get one for a Chinese phone if you buy it from China. Instead you'll need to buy the phone up front and then subscribe to a SIM-only deal, but if you've got the funds to do so it's a much better option and can save you a lot of cash in the long run.
Particularly with regard to Xiaomi phones, your smartphone may not come with Google services preinstalled (opt for a Global model or buy within the UK to avoid this). We explain how to install Google Play on a Xiaomi phone here.
We've rounded up some of these things you should consider in our guide to buying Chinese tech.
If you decide you want a budget phone but don't want one from China, also check out our guide to the best budget phones available in the UK.