I’m always amazed at how often people will go into debt for a smartphone.

While my phone is an extension of me and very much part of my daily life, the cost of a premium device can be excessive. 

Top of the range phones are priced at between R15 000 and R20 000 (that is a deposit on a car for some!) and the spend doesn’t stop there. You’re paying a monthly fee to pay off the phone, paying for data and airtime and then need to pay for insurance as well.

While some of the high end brands offer one or two free screen replacements you’ll still need to spend money on covers, protectors and even screen insurance if you’re a bit of a butter fingers.

Or you can find a cheaper option.

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There are a handful of smartphones on the market that offer up the same capabilities as their more expensive companions and yet come in at a fraction of the cost.

Seriously, there are smartphones available for less than R1000!

However, you do need to shop smart if you plan to go the budget route.

Step 1: Be prepared to let go of a few “perks”

In order to get the cost down on a phone you might have to sacrifice a few things. Surprisingly enough it won’t be the things that you can’t live without.

Budget phones usually forgo the fancy aluminium bodies and full glass screen effect.

The finishes may be somewhat more plastic and you’ll have to settle for a thicker bezel around the screen.

While you’re not going to get the most powerful battery or fanciest camera you’d be surprised at how much bang for your buck the lower end of the range phones offer up.

Step 2: Know your brands

Not all budget smartphones are created equal. While you might think you’re getting an incredible deal be sure the brand you choose is one that has the necessary support to back up your purchase.

Even budget phones need support.

A few years back a brand entered the market and offered cheap phones with all sorts of “benefits” including lifetime 24 hour support.

Until a few months later when the company went bankrupt and a lot of people were stuck with phones that were faulty and as a result had no way to cash in on that lifetime support.

Stick to the brands you know.

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A round up of some options for you:

Xiaomi

The Xiaomi range of smartphones is really impressive. They have a stack of various options under the R5000 mark and, in my opinion, are the best budget smartphone brand on the market. 

I’ve tested out a few of their phones they all have this incredible premium finish that makes them look far more expensive than what they are. The cameras punch above their weight class and the phones offer a dual sim option (which is a great bonus if you want to switch between numbers and data costs).

My favourite from Xiaomi right now is the Redmi 5A. For less than R2000 you can get a gorgeous metallic brushed gold phone with a 5” HD display. The phone has a 13MP camera and some onboard software to help take better shots in low light and make the colour pop in your images.

Plus the phone offers 16GB of storage (which is on par with most premium brands).

Huawei

There was a time when Huawei was the budget smartphone brand but that has changed. They’re now offering up devices that compete with the big boys. However, they haven’t forgotten those of us not looking for a fancy Porsche branded handset. 

The Huawei P10 Lite is a great choice coming in at under R4000. It has a beautiful curved glass display and metal frame. Huawei’s processors are work horses so your phone will operate fast and effectively.

There’s a fingerprint sensor and a stack of tech that Huawei offers across their devices including their camera tech. You’ll get a 12MP camera and a 8MP selfie camera as well so you’ll be able to keep your Instagram feed going without a drop in quality.

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Nokia

Nokia? Say what?

Yes, they’re back and they have rethought their smartphone strategy completely. They kicked off 2018 announcing a host of new devices at various price points.

The phones all run on Android and are actually pretty impressive. But if you want a budget buy I’d splurge on the Nokia 6… and by splurge I mean dropping a little under R4000 for it.

The phone has USB-C fast charging - yes please! The 5.5” IPS LCD display sits comfy in your hand and the phone has 32GB of internal storage. It also has a 13MP and 5MP dual camera on the phone with an 8MP selfie cam. So for the most part you’re getting a decent phone at a decent price!

While those are 3 of my favourite “cheaper” phones, most of the high end brands do offer more affordable entry level options as well.

Just be sure the after sale support is in place and you’ll be good to go… plus you’ll have extra cash to splurge on over the top phone covers!

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