The best SIM Free phones for under £100

With how advanced smartphone technology is getting these days, it’s not surprising that price tags are generally heading upwards - but that’s not to say you can’t get a great phone at a lower cost! Many budget options will still have more than capable specs in key areas such as their camera, battery and storage, amongst other features. With that in mind, here are four solid smartphones you can buy SIM Free for £100 or less.

What does SIM Free mean?

A quick note if you’re not familiar with the term SIM Free - it simply means that the phone comes without a SIM card. Therefore, it’s not locked to any network, so you’re free to then insert a SIM card for whichever network you want to use. This gives you the option to buy the phone outright and pick a plan afterwards, which can help to keep your monthly costs down and give you flexibility over your mobile use, as you can avoid being tied to a contract for a predetermined length of time.

Motorola Moto E13

Although Motorola aren’t as big a name in the mobile phone space as they once were, the brand still offers a wide selection of smartphones to cater to a range of budgets. The Moto E13 is the latest release in Motorola’s low-cost E family, having released earlier this year. It has an octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM and runs the latest iteration of the Android OS in Android 13, so you can expect smooth and reliable performance. With an impressive 5,000 mAh battery capacity, the Moto E13 has a greater battery capacity than flagship phones such as the iPhone 14 or Samsung Galaxy S23, providing plenty of use between charges. Its 13MP AI-powered camera will automatically enhance your photos and let you film videos in full 1080p, which you can then enjoy on the ultra-wide 6.5-inch HD+ screen. You’ll be able to store plenty of these, as the Moto E13 gives you 64GB of storage from the get-go, which can be expanded to a whole terabyte with an SD card. The Moto E13 also includes dual SIM capability, a 3.5mm headphone jack, an IP52 water-repellent design and comes with a 10W charger. The Moto E13 offers all these features and retails for around £90 when bought SIM free.

Xiaomi Redmi 9AT

Similarly to Motorola, Xiaomi sell an extensive selection of smartphones to cater to a wide range of budgets. Despite being released in late 2020, the Redmi 9AT still boasts an impressive selection of specs and features that make it a remarkable cheap smartphone. Like the Moto E13, the Redmi 9AT boasts an octa-core processor that’s been optimised for gaming performance, so you can expect exceptional gaming experiences on top of reliable everyday use. It also has a 6.5-inch HD+ display and 5,000mAh battery capacity, so you’ll be able to enjoy high quality media over a long period of time. In terms of cameras, the Redmi 9AT has a 13MP rear camera and 5MP front camera, indicating you’ll be able to get good performance from both. With 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 512GB with an SD card, you have a good amount of space to work with for all your apps, music and captures. Coming with a headphone port and charger, the phone nowadays also retails at around £90.

Nokia C21 Plus

Like Motorola, Nokia are another company that you might not have realised are still highly active in the mobile phone space. The C21 Plus was released last year as part of their budget C-series. It shares various similarities with the Moto E13 and Redmi 9AT – all have 6.5-inch displays, 13MP rear cameras and 5MP front cameras. Coming with 32GB storage as default, you can expand the storage to 256GB with an SD card. With a 4,000mAh battery capacity, Nokia suggest you can get 2 to 3 days of battery life from a single charge of the C21 Plus. In terms of additional features, the phone comes with a charger, headphone port, fingerprint scanner and dual SIM functionality, giving the device plenty to offer. The C21 Plus is generally available for around £100.

Alcatel 1B

Our last suggestion is the Alcatel 1B. Also released in 2022, the Alcatel 1B comes is a smaller phone than our other suggestions, with a 5.5-inch display. Despite the smaller size, the 1B still boasts HD+ capability, allowing you to enjoy high quality captures from the 8MP rear and 5MP front cameras that can both record videos in 1080p. Base storage is on par with most of the other phones at 32GB, expandable to 128GB with an SD card. Despite the 1B having a battery capacity of 3,000mAh, its built-in Smart Manager will help the battery to last longer, ensuring you still get adequate use from it before having to plug it in for a charge. When that time comes, the phone comes with a charger and also has a headphone port and dual SIM functionality, so offers various convenient features. Pricing for the Alcatel 1B looks a bit more varied than the other phones, although often appears to be cheaper at around the £65 to £80 range.

Whatever phone you get, make sure it is ready for the 3G switch off

In 2021, the government ordered that the mobile network operators shutdown their 3G networks by 2033 at the latest. Although the deadline is still far away, most UK network providers have already begun the process, including Three, whose network powers SMARTY. Therefore, getting a 2G or 3G now could result in you getting a device that does not get signal or only does for a brief time, so we would advise you to look for a device that is 4G-VoLTE compatible to ensure you can get a full-service moving forward.

Most modern smartphones will have this functionality, although it would be worth checking if you are looking at older smartphones or lower cost phones.

Find out more about SMARTY’s 3G switch off in our All you need to know about the 3G switch off blog post or on our Switching off 3G support page.

SMARTY SIM only deals

Looking for a SIM to go with a SIM Free phone? We have a selection of great value plans that all come with unlimited minutes and texts, giving you the flexibility to pick a plan based on your data usage. We currently offer seven plans, stretching from 4GB to Unlimited data – and for a limited time only, you can get 10% off our Unlimited plan, giving you all the data you could ever need at one of the cheapest prices available in the UK. Not bad, right?

We don’t do annual price rises or contracts, so you’re free to change or cancel your plan whenever you like. Although, with all this, in addition to fast 5G & 4G data and up to 12GB of EU Roaming included, there are plenty of reasons to love SMARTY!

  • SMARTY Team
  • May 26th, 2023