Looking for an ultra-budget smartphone? Maybe you need an emergency spare for the car. Or perhaps you could use a handset for when you next travel that won't cause a €1,000 hole in your pocket if mislaid. Maybe you're simply looking for something affordable to hand to a teen or an elderly family member for a specific purpose, such as staying in touch over WhatsApp. Here, Adrian Weckler picks five models that cost under €100, with two standout recommendations.
Price: €99 prepay from Three
Of all the sub-€100 smartphones here, this is probably the most accomplished. Huawei has put fairly decent two-year-old handset tech into an ultra-budget model rather than seeing it all go to waste. The result is a phone that is noticeably faster and has better overall screen performance than almost any others on this budget list.
It has a surprisingly high- resolution (1080p) 6.6-inch display and a sleek bezel-less design that puts the fingerprint reader on the back of the phone.
There's way more storage here (64GB plus room for more via memory card) than some rivals and its engine is far more capable, with 4GB of Ram and a reasonable Kirin processor. It also has modern USB-C charging.
If you only had €100 to spend on a phone for a teenager, who might want to dip into Fortnite as well as the usual messaging or social media stuff, this would be it.
Price: €99 prepay from Vodafone/Three/Tesco Mobile
Nokia's recently-launched 2.3 model is one of the two best models that squeaks in under the €100 line. While it doesn't quite have the engine specifications of Huawei's P Smart Z, it's easily the nicest design of all the ultra-budget phones.
Although plastic, it feels a lot more like a metallic compound in the hand. It also has a really good battery life (at 4,000mAh) for a handset that's so inexpensive. And its use of Android One, which is as close to 'pure' Android as you can get, is an excellent choice. It even has a dedicated separate button for the Google Assistant.
All of these things matter if you're buying this as a primary device that you intend to lean on most of the day. Its 6.2-inch display is nice, with a good touch experience and admirable (60Hz) refresh rate. The single rear 13-megapixel camera (with an additional 2-megapixel depth-sensing lens) is just about fine.
Its 32GB of internal storage is reasonable at the price, although the phone took up 12GB of that 32GB immediately, with just the basic apps. Happily, it also includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, although like most ultra-budget models, it uses an older MicroUSB charging port - which means slower charging.
Price: €79 sim-free from Amazon.co.uk
You may not have heard of Doogee before, but the Spanish-designed, Chinese manufactured ultra-budget smartphones have been around for a few year now. Its X95 model is for those who want a large-screen device with decent battery life for very casual use.
The design is not dissimilar to Google's Pixel range, with very slim bezels. The rear casing of my test model is a nice dark green. It has a headphone jack and a fingerprint security reader. The 6.5-inch display is nice and bright and responds to touch far better than I'd expect for a phone at this price point. However, it does have a much lower screen resolution than more expensive phones and you'll see this when you play a YouTube or Netflix video - it's noticeably more basic.
The engine underneath is also a bare bones model, which you'll feel right away if you're used to faster phones, and it only has 16GB of storage - a tiny amount in this era. Though you can add more through a memory card slot.
Its two rear cameras - standard and zoom - and its selfie camera are pretty basic. So this isn't one to give your teenager for Fortnite as it wouldn't have the engine power to quite manage it. But it's fine for light browsing, email, WhatsApp and other casual use.
Price: €99 prepay from Vodafone
Vodafone's own-brand smartphone isn't much of an upgrade over the surprisingly good N9 a year previously, but it still does a creditably basic job. Its 5.7-inch, middling- resolution screen is a HD-light variant at 720p, but is still sufficiently bright and sharp. It also has slim 'forehead' and 'chin' bezels, meaning that around 90pc of the entire front panel is display rather than big thick edges. Its 'teardrop' camera notch allows for face-recognition, a nice touch.
Its single 8-megapixel rear camera is about what you'd expect at this price. The whole phone is pretty slow due to its 2GB of Ram and basic processor, while 16GB of storage is very slim - although it does have a memory card slot for more. Battery life on this is mediocre compared to some of the other models on this list.
If you just need a basic smartphone for WhatsApp, Facebook, light browsing, phones and calls, this will be fine. But I wouldn't pick it first.
Price: €99 sim-free from Harvey Norman
"Oh, that's cool." This was the response from the 17-year-old in our house when I flipped open Nokia's recently-launched 2720 Flip, scrolled through a few of its trimmed apps and snapped the phone shut again. She had never seen a flip phone before. So it intrigued me that the aesthetic lit her up. And part of me found a rekindled satisfaction in that 'thwap' sound when you close the phone over.
The 2720 Flip doesn't use Android, but a light operating system called KaiOS. It also has physical buttons (including arrow buttons) that control the non-touchscreen.
It has trimmed down versions of some of the apps that we now regard as utilities. That includes WhatsApp, Google, Maps and one or two others.
One possible utility is as a phone for weekends, when you want to wind down and only get messages, not incessant news. Another is for exercise - this is lighter and more compact than most smartphones, making it easier to keep on you.