Best pay-as-you-go Android phones in the UK: 2014 gift guide

Finding the best pay so you go Android phone can be a challenge. There are so many options and so many price points that finding the best value on a decent handset is not easy. And remember—cheap does not automatically mean good value.

We’ve trawled through all the offers from the main UK networks and found a collection of phones that you are safe buying, at prices that do represent the best value on the market.

Also read: The best budget Android phones 2015

Whether your budget is £100 or £500, we’ve got something for you. Let’s get started!

Android phones up to £100

The quality of the lowest cost Android phones can vary wildly, and many devices will exhibit either performance or build quality issues, with battery life and screen being frequent casualties.

Moto e

Motorola Moto E

If you’re on the tightest of budgets then you should look no further than the Moto E.

This phone, which can be found on Vodafone for around £75, sets a new benchmark for what you would expect to get from a budget handset.

It’s well built, has an excellent screen and decent battery life, while the device will also get OS updates, including the forthcoming Android Lollipop.

There are compromises, of course, including limited storage and a mediocre camera. But on balance, this is the best you can get at this price.

Samsung galaxy ace 4

Samsung Galaxy Ace 4

The Ace 4 feels much more of a budgets device than the Moto E, with lower specs in almost every area. It sticks to a proven formula, though, with Samsung’s familiar design and software.

Available on O2 for £89.99, it’s a reasonable low-cost bet. However if you can stretch your budget just a little further there’s a lot better to be had.

Android phones up to £200

There are quite a few PAYG phones in £100-£200 price bracket and many are underpowered. Especially when compared to the one standout choice.

Moto g 4g

Motorola Moto G 4G

The Moto G 4G is hands down the best budget Android phone you can buy.

With a brilliant 720p HD screen, a memory card slot to augment the internal storage, 4G connectivity, battery life that lasts the day, fast performance and the latest OS updates, it is better than many phones at twice the price.

Available on most networks from £129.99 (such as here from O2), this is a rare example of budget not meaning ‘entry-level’. Many more experienced users might find that the Moto G 4G offers everything they need.

Android phones up to £300

The £200-£300 sector is a wasteland between affordable and high-end with limited options. For many users the Moto G will suffice, otherwise you’d do better in most instances to push your budget as far as it can go.

Nexus 5

Nexus 5 16GB

The Moto 4G wipes the floor with everything else within touching distance of its price, so we need to jump to £279.99 for the next best option.

The Nexus 5 is a year old but still boasts impressive specs, including a full HD display, fast processor and slim design. It also gets OS updates direct from Google, and the Android 5.0 update is expected to breathe new life into its battery and camera.

The Nexus 5 was the best the value phone ever on its release, and its price hasn’t dropped significantly over the last year.

However the £279.99 price from Carphone Warehouse still represents astounding value on what is a very impressive smartphone.

Android phones over £300

You have to shop around to find value in pay as you go phones over £300. Most of the flagship devices are expected to be purchased on contract, and PAYG deals can offer little benefit over buying SIM-free.

Xperia z3 compact

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

The Z3 Compact is an unusual beast in the Android world—a smaller phone (4.7” display) with the same specs as a flagship.

Better still, it’s priced at the level of a mid-ranger, which makes it a great value buy.

Performance is as good as any Android phone, the 20MP camera is outstanding and it feels great in the hand.

The best feature, though, is the battery. The Z3 Compact easily gets through two days of steady use, putting it way ahead of anything else on the market today.

Good pay as you go deals for the Z3 Compact are thin on the ground, but you can pick it up SIM-free for £349 from

Lg g3


The LG G3 is one of the best phones of 2014. It has specs to rival any other, including a stunning QHD display that’s even higher resolution than HD, impressive battery life and full OS updates. The camera ranks as one of Android’s very best.

The G3 also comes in noticeably cheaper than similarly high-end devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or HTC One M8.

As with the Z3 Compact it can be found SIM-free from at an impressively competitive price of £390.