The best cheap smartphone for us is still the Huawei P8 Lite (2017) . It can convince in all disciplines: powerful hardware packed with practical equipment such as a good camera and not least packaged in a high-quality finish. One wonders why one should actually spend more on a cell phone.
We tested 7 new models and can recommend the Huawei Y7 (2019), the Alcatel 5 and the Nokia 1. Also new is the TP-Link Neffos C7, the Letv Le 2 X526, the Alcatel 3v and the Huawei Y5 2018. However, the winner remains the Huawei P8 lite.
There is a lot of movement in the smart smartphone sector. There are not only successor models of already well-known models on the market recently, but also one or the other in this country new manufacturer ventures on the Smartphone market, and with Nokia mixes a well-known mark again with diligently.
We tested seven new models, but almost all previous devices are still available, sometimes at much lower prices. Especially exciting: our two favourites, the Huawei P8 lite (2017) and the Xiaomi Mi A1 have not had to give up a whit of their placement to the newcomers.
It is significant that all new devices are already available for well under $200; we now have only smartphones under $200 in this review.
The Huawei P8 lite (2017) is still the best smartphone we can get for less than $200. It’s not perfect, but the few compromises due to its low price are good for most people to get over. Battery, processing and design are impressive and if 16 gigabytes of memory is not enough, you can upgrade to a micro-SD card at a low price. With the Huawei P8 Lite, you still get a lot of smartphone for little money.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 is the first Chinese direct import that has made it to our editorial board. The unibody case made of aluminium is of impressive quality, the same can be said of the inner values. The benchmarks are on the same level as our favourite, the China Phone scores with 64 gigabytes of internal memory and a USB-C interface.
The Huawei Y7, while not the dedicated followers of our favourites, but comes from the current Generation Y, which is already offered away for less than 200 euros from the start. Currently, it is even more than our favourite. But if the price goes down, which will usually be the case after a few months, it’s a good alternative.
The Chinese manufacturer TCL has in addition to the BlackBerry hardware and the smartphones from Alcatel under contract. The Alcatel 5 has an almost borderless display, only at the top edge, you have space for the speaker, no less than two cameras, and left two sensors. As with the expensive models, the menu bar can be shown below if necessary.
With Nokia 1, the Finnish company HMD also covers the entry-level class. The Nokia 1 awakens memories of the glorious mobile era simply because of its simple design. However, the Nokia 1 is very practical: the back cover can be removed and thus replace the battery; The operating system is the particularly resource-saving Android go installed.
Our current test field consists of seven devices with a starting price of just under 100 euros to well below 200 euros. In addition to the well-known sizes like the Y5 2018 and the Y7 2018 from Huawei as well as the Alcatel 5 and the 3v, we also examined the particularly favourable Nokia 1. The smartphones from network specialists TP-Link have also been on the market for some time now; Here we had the Neffos C7 for the test. In addition, we had the import device Letv Le 2 X526, which was sent to us directly from China but can also be obtained via Amazon and some importers.
The previously tested smartphones for the price of 200 euros have, as I said, significantly decreased in price, if they are still available, and who does not need the latest technology, is certainly well served. From Asus was the Zenfone 4 Max ZC554KL with it, also two from Motorola or the brand owner Lenovo, the Moto G5S and the Moto G5s Plus. As exotics, we had the Xiaomi Mi A1, as well as the very cheap Fantec Boogy.
It started with the Zenfone 3 laser from Asus, the equally affordable Gigaset GS 160 and two smartphones from Lenovo, the Lenovo K6 and the Motorola Moto G5, as well as the feel prime from Wiko.
Even more than sufficient computing power, most want their smartphone to have the longest possible battery life. We fed the smartphones with a test video in FullHD and let it run non-stop. In order to demand a special smartphone, we also switched on the WLAN at the same time.
We also documented the charging time of the smartphones in order to get a practical value on how long you have to wait in order to be able to fully use your smartphone again. The WLAN range has been tested under real conditions. It is important to know that a comparison can only be made between devices tested together in real-time since radio transmission depends on many different factors – even the weather has both a positive and a negative influence on the propagation of radio waves.
As a supreme discipline, the smartphones had to show what they bring to the sensor via the lens, so how good is their camera. Finally, the smartphone replaced for most now the camera. So how well are the built-in cameras for one or the other snapshot, or even more suitable? For this, we shot test photos under comparable lighting conditions.
As is the case with cars, the equipment and technology of smartphones will be passed from the expensive flagship models to the low-priced offerings over time – but at significantly shorter intervals. Therefore dominate this year already very cheap smartphones features last year were only far more expensive devices reserved.
Only a few models have a removable battery
For example, a fingerprint sensor is now standard on affordable smartphones, as is a solid unibody case. The resolution of the display and camera is the much more expensive smartphones hardly after. On the other hand, it is usually rather invisible but important details that are saved – such as memory, processors or battery capacity.
On the other hand, especially the manufacturers of cheap smartphones are trying to score with features that are barely in the top class and not found in the premium devices. Currently, we have at least two smartphones in the test, which are equipped with a removable battery – unfortunately a dying species in this genus.
Throughout the test devices, there is a slot for memory expansion and one for a second SIM card, even if it is sometimes designed as a hybrid. These smartphones require either a memory upgrade or the second SIM card, both together Not. Exceptions are the models Alcatel 3v, the two Huawei Y7 and 5 2018, the ZenFone 4 Max, the old Moto G5, and finally the two cheapest Fantec Boogy and the Gigaset GS 160.
Since the final case of roaming charges has been enforced in other European countries, there are only a few scenarios that make a second SIM card worthwhile. One of them is longer stays in non-European countries. A second is the separation of business and personal use on the same smartphone. This brings additional ease of use, but for most, a second SIM card in the phone is neither desirable nor necessary.
It may be that the manufacturers have begun to use so-called hybrid slots. These accept either a second SIM card or a microSD for memory expansion. Both at the same time is no longer possible with these smartphones.
Of all the smartphones tested, the Huawei P8 Lite has been the most convincing – closely followed by the Xiaomi Mi A1 and the Motorola Moto G5s Plus.
The chic, Chinese smartphone immediately cuts a fine figure both visually and haptically and is excellently finished: the display glass and the rear side, also made of hard glass, are accurately framed in the frame. Even the edges are elegantly rounded.
Hybrid slot: either second SIM card or memory expansion
The choice of glass as a cover for the back, but you can also see ambiguous. Although the aluminium body, which surrounds most other smartphones, tends to scratch quickly, it does not crack or splinter, as it does the glass back in an unfortunate crash without a doubt. On the other hand, it can be replaced in a case easier and cheaper.
On the glass back there is the fingerprint sensor. It can be conveniently reached with the index finger of the telephone hand. In addition to the obligatory headset and the generously dimensioned power supply is included.
The SIM and memory card or the two SIM cards are, as with all smartphones without removable back cover, laterally mounted on a slot and inserted. The Huawei P8 Lite is a combo slot, which means you can either insert two SIM cards or a SIM and a memory card. Since the Huawei with 16 gigabytes of internal memory is rather moderately equipped, it is recommended instead of the second SIM card to expand the memory. For the models Alcatel 3v, and the two Huawei Y7 and Y5 2018 you do not even get embarrassed.
Those who rely on a second SIM card plus plenty of memory should think about the Moto G5, here you can use both in parallel and get a removable battery on top of that.
The Huawei P8 Lite provides a powerful combination of hardware and software rarely found on Android smartphones, especially at low cost. In the P8 Lite, after all, an octa-core processor, which can accelerate four of its eight cores to over 2 gigahertz. Like most processors with eight cores, the calculator supports a massive 3 gigabytes of memory.
Strong battery and fluid operation
With this hardware, the latest version of Android is driven, set up the in-house user interface EMUI 5.0. The Huawei runs so well liquid and responds immediately to inputs via touch gestures. The benchmarks Antutu (57177) and CF-Bench (91312 nativ, 23992 Java) also confirm the good interaction between hardware and software.
The battery life can be more than impressive. Our FullHD test video ran for over 13 hours before the battery ran out. Then he needed a little over 3 hours until he was 100 per cent charged again – on the same with the other test equipment. Only the K6 from Lenovo was charged faster (2.5 hours). The Xiaomi lasts just as long, but is fully charged within 1:45 hours, the P8 Lite needs twice as long. Incidentally, the short loading time applies to all new test participants except the Fantec Boogy. Here, the manufacturers have so well retrofitted, so that the P8 Lite has to give clearly beaten.
The equipment of the Huawei is rounded off by an NFC chip. This makes Bluetooth pairing with many peripheral devices much easier. The Huawei was so far the only one in the test field with this property and thus had the edge here. After all, both Motorola smartphones also have the NFC comfort in the new test patterns, at this point must then again fit the Xiaomi.
The quality of the camera still separates the wheat from the chaff on smartphones. There are still big differences between expensive flagship models and cheap cell phones – but even here they are getting smaller.
Modern smartphones can now compensate the shortcoming of their tiny lenses and sensors quite cleverly, at least in good light conditions. It becomes tight when there is little light. Even subjects with dynamic lighting conditions – ie with very bright and very dark image areas – are often a challenge.
In low light, the cameras show their weaknesses
Therefore, in addition to a perfectly illuminated subject, we also shot a Low light version of the same, and also went outdoors with the smartphones – with quite mixed success.
In daylight, almost all cameras produce good results. The Huawei P8 lite tilts a bit into the green, but this is more noticeable in the grey test background than in more natural subjects.
Of the seven new smartphones, only the Alcatel 3v is positive, all others have to fight despite sufficient illumination with more or less light noise, or with its suppression.
When photographing the Huawei helps with normal illumination of the subject with a sharpening of the edges, which is shown in so-called “overshoots” on straight edges. However, the exposure is realistic for the smartphone.
The Xiaomi sets again on top and delivers a correctly exposed image without the visible edge sharpening, in daylight, therefore, it usually makes the better photos, which incidentally synonymous for the Moto G5S Plus applies.
In difficult lighting conditions such as mixed light or low light, the algorithms work more or less reliably. Thus, raising the ISO to 1000 during our Low light recording, although to a slight noise carpet, but this is to get over since the photo lacks neither detail or colour saturation.
Here, the Xiaomi must be clearly beaten, the noise is so strong that there are no clear details, even the colours hardly match the original. The Y7 2018 also can not keep up here, but still stands out the Moto G5S positive.
In the outdoor scene, the Huawei P8 Lite (2017) depicts the scene very realistically, the Xiaomi had to fight because of the later season with extremely much backlight and mastered this bravely. The sky shines only moderately lightened so that the branches are completely displayed on the right edge of the picture. By the way, the big birch in the background has fallen victim to the urban chainsaw, and not a clever feature of the camera?
From now on (September 2018) there is a new Outdoor motif, if possible also always with a direct backlight so that the cameras in the Smartphones have something to do.
Conclusion of the camera comparison test: The Huawei P8 Lite (2017) convinces with good results in all light situations, while the competitors can afford some rough cuts in difficult conditions. At some distance, the Moto G5 follows in front of the other test candidates.
The Huawei P8 lite (2017) performs virtually no weakness. The disadvantage could be at most the execution of the dual SIM slots as a hybrid since the memory of the Huawei with 16 gigabytes is a bit tight. If you need more memory will find in Xiaomi an extremely generously equipped smartphone – but with other limitations.
Also, the execution of the back of the appliance in the glass will not meet everyone’s taste, others like this just because it makes the Huawei undoubtedly particularly chic.
The Huawei P8 Lite scores very well in many test reports. Here is a selection of the most important opinions. The test by Connect praises:
“Solid workmanship, elegant case, current Android 7, brilliant and extremely bright 5.2-inch display, good performance, neat 12-megapixel camera.”
Also, CHIP classifies the Huawei a positive, mainly the good performance and the display bring the Huawei more than 79 per cent in the chip rating and a “Very Good” at Value for money:
The 2017 version of the mid-range smartphone proves a good overall performance for the money in the test. The P8 Lite (2017) is worth a look, especially thanks to the good performance and the fine outfit.
On the other hand, CHIP complains about the limited battery life and the camera. We can not quite understand both of these on the basis of our test, especially with regard to the battery life, the Huawei cut off well for us, but the camera also stood out from the competition in problematic lighting conditions.
The testers of the computer magazine c’t also find that: They praise the good battery life and the neutral colours of the camera in daylight.
Even in the test of computer image is merely criticized that the smartphone is not waterproof and the battery is not replaced. That’s why the Huawei gets the grade 2.35:
With the all-new P8 Lite in the 2017 version, Huawei does nothing wrong. Design, workmanship and hardware provide a homogenous package that does not have to hide from the middle-class competition.
In the test of AndroidPit, the long battery life is praised as well as the successful design. The Huawei EMUI interface, on the other hand, does not farewell. Although the extensive reference to the original Android is praised but continues to say:
In everyday life, however, one senses that Huawei has unfortunately neglected the optimizations. The result: always unnecessary waiting times, certain bugs and overall the software simply does not feel fluid. Especially when the memory reaches its limits, the performance goes down.
Again, we could not understand this in the test. For us, the P8 Lite (2017) was smooth and round in all circumstances.
ComputerBase headlines »This is how smartphones work for little money« and concludes:
Huawei’s P8 Lite 2017 shows that a good smartphone does not have to cost a lot of money. For 239 euros (EIA) Huawei offers a good overall package, whose smaller criticisms do not influence the overall positive impression.
For most people who are looking for a good smartphone for about 200 euros, the Huawei P8 Lite is still the best choice in our opinion. If you have other preferences, other candidates are also possible.
The Xiaomi Mi A1, like our favourite, comes from China, but the manufacturer does not have the same infrastructure in Europe as Huawei for a few years. Accordingly, our test sample was also provided to us by importer Gearbest.
The lack of presence of Xiaomi in Europe means that in the support case, you have no contact person, you could take the obligation. And also when buying there are pitfalls: Although the smartphones from Xiaomi are now partly available on Amazon, usually at much higher prices. If you buy from an importer, you get away cheaper, but it can happen that then import duty of about 20 per cent of the value of the goods is due. So please read the terms and conditions before purchasing decision-making click exactly!
Even with the specified specifications, highest attention is required, the Xiaomi Mi A1 namely there are in several variants. We were explicitly sent the Global Version because it supports the LTE channel 20, which is widespread in Germany, and not the others.
If the version is right, you get with the Xiaomi Mi A1 a convincing smartphone in the clean-processed aluminium unibody housing. Inside there is, for the most part, the latest technology, although not from the upper shelves. The chipset is just as powerful as our favourite. It is clocked at 2 GHz and generously flanked by 4 gigabytes of RAM.
The Mi A1 is also the only test device in this price range, which has a whopping 64 gigabytes of internal memory, which can even be increased by microSD. Thanks to the combo slot you have the choice, however, whether it should not rather be the second SIM card, which is probably more of a luxury problem given the lush storage facilities. Also with regard to the interface, the Xiaomi with the only USB Type-C socket is a pioneer in this test field.
However, you can not conjure up at Xiaomi: In the photo department, it is on par with most competitors and has beaten at low light shots our favourite. Also, the NFC chip, which makes many Bluetooth connections comfortable, is missing and a headset is also not included.
Clearly the Xiaomi can score again with the installed operating system. Here is set with AndroidOne on the corresponding Android project that gives users a two-year update warranty. On the Xiaomi is, therefore, a fast, slim and secure operating system installed, free of homegrown and bloatware of the manufacturer.
For those who are keen to experiment and do not care too much about the lack of hardware support, the Xiaomi Mi A1 is a real alternative to our favourite.
The Huawei Y7 is indeed located in the Huawei-model policy below the P-line, but currently costs even a little more than our favourite. However, that should reverse over the next few months. What does not reverse, however, is that you get a cheap smartphone with the Y7, that already uses current display technology, with as few frames as possible, even if the pure resolution lags far behind our favourite.
The Y7 2018 shines with a beautiful and easy-care backside made of polycarbonate, thanks to the glass look in the literal sense. Often you have to get rid of fingerprints often, especially with regard to the fingerprint sensor, but at least there are hardly any scratches that can not be removed from a metal body.
With the chipset working inside, the Y7 2018 pulls easily past the P8 Lite 2017 in terms of performance. On the equipment side, it sets other priorities: On NFC is omitted, but the hybrid slot for the cards has given way to a real triple-bay. The Y7 2018 can, therefore, accommodate two SIM cards and still does not have to do without a memory expansion via microSD card. That makes sense with the scanty 16GB built-in.
Those who rely on the second SIM card, should take the Y7 2018 in the closer selection, who does not need this, is currently better served with our favourite – if only because it is even cheaper.
Clever is the back of the Alcatel 5: The surface, which looks like brushed stainless steel, is actually made of lightweight plastic. Nevertheless, the lid can not be removed. At the front, the active display area dominates the events – although not immediately apparent, because as sometimes happens with the more expensive competition, the navigation bar at the bottom can be shown and hidden as needed. Above, the edge is quite wide for it, finally, there are in addition to the speaker all sorts of sensors and two cameras.
A camera has a pronounced wide-angle if you want to take a group selfie. It even has an automatic function, which switches from the normal lens to the wide-angle, as soon as it detects more than one face. If you do not need them, you can also switch off the automatic. Although it is not published anywhere, Alcatel uses a slightly customized Android interface: Especially the inconspicuous point on the display, it has done to us; if you tap it, the display shows a lot of useful shortcuts, and it can be moved freely on the screen.
The display resolution is very good with a pixel density of over 400 PPI, especially in the displayed price range. One has to make sacrifices in terms of performance because according to the benchmarks, the latter moves more in the midfield. The battery life is also average: in our test, the battery lasted a good 13 hours and was charged in less than two hours thanks to the charging capacity of the USB Type-C interface.
The Alcatel 5 is thanks to the modern display designs and the user interface more for individualists who also look forward over current technology in the form of USB Type-C interface and clever photographic skills.
When Nokia 1 is a nostalgic immediately, at least, if you still remember the Nokia phones. The Nokia 1 is not a classic phone but has quite small dimensions. Because of this and due to the design, it fits comfortably in the hand. The cover can be removed with little effort, including the removable battery and two card slots – one for the SIM card and one for memory expansion via microSD card. The synonymous emergency, because the Nokia is equipped with only 8 GB of internal memory.
That’s enough for most applications, but as soon as you take one or the other photo, the memory runs out quickly. However, photos should only be taken outside in good weather, as soon as the light subsides or a complex lighting situation occurs. With Zwei or backlight, the camera is completely overwhelmed and gets no decent photos more out.
Inside, a quad-core processor ensures sufficient computing skills, but of course, does not match that of the more expensive colleagues. It is sometimes necessary to close some tasks when the smartphone starts to slow down. It is amazing that the Nokia is equipped with the youngest Android because just here one would have expected more austerity measures. They also take place, because with Android Go a somewhat slimmer operating system is installed, which also makes sense with the scarce hardware.
The Nokia 1 is the ideal smartphone for all those who need it for mere phone calls, and rarely take pictures, surf, etc. It is very casual, does not cost much and is still a smartphone despite everything, who wants more is currently yes even find it at Nokia.
The TP-Link Neffos C7 is not the first smartphone from the network specialist, but certainly one of the cheaper ones. Here, too, at first glance, the plastic housing goes through as an aluminium unibody. For it (still) costs just over 100 euros, it is very well equipped and has sufficient power reserves. Even the photos are impressive when it’s light enough. The scarce 16 GB of memory can be easily increased by microSD card or alternatively use a second SIM card.
As an insider tip, the Letv Le 2 X526 goes through only at first glance. The second China import in our test, frankly, does not meet the expectations placed on it, and not just because Xiaomi has presented so well with the Mi A1. The display is definitely older, as it is completely flat, without the flattering curves that are currently common. The second handle in the moth-crate concerns the operating system: Android 6 is already a few days ago, and you can not even activate the gallery if you do not release the phone and contacts for the app. The sloppy or non-existent translation in many context menus can hardly be explained by the price. Others can do that better.
Large and shiny back comes the Alcatel 3v therefore. The 6-inch display also has excellent resolution, but behind it is less pretentious. The battery life is subterranean under eight hours, which is all the more annoying, considering that the smartphone has almost three hours to the socket to have back to full charge available. If you can do without the great display, you better use the Alcatel 5.
The rear of the Huawei Y5 is also made of plastic and only the metal frame. Nevertheless, it gives a high-quality impression. The performance is mediocre, according to the benchmark, but the battery life lasts 15 hours. On the USB type-C interface but you have to do without, as well as the fast charging function. The Y5 is a solid smartphone in a classic look and with high practicality. Good to use in 2019 as a budget phone.
With the Moto G5S Plus Motorola has missed the G5 Plus a facelift. The display has become a bit bigger, but without increasing the resolution, which is not really necessary with a pixel density of more than 400 PPI. Added is a fast-charging with a corresponding charger, which shortens the charging time in half. The battery itself is the same as in the predecessor and was able to convince in our test with 15 hours of video continuous operation. With the Moto G5S Plus, you get a sophisticated smartphone, which can convince significantly more than its predecessor or the smaller brother.
The ZenFone 4 Max ZC554K from Asus lives up to its name. This is less true for the display – 5.5 inches have the other almost all – but rather for the huge battery, which is waiting in the beautiful aluminium housing on its use. A whopping 5,000 mAh was enough for our video test for a running time of 25 hours! The card slot offers three copies: two SIM and one memory card. As a chic runner makes the ZenFone 4 Max especially for those who do not have an outlet constantly in the vicinity, a good figure.
The Fantec Boogy is the current flagship of the manufacturer, which is brand new in the smartphone business. Solid home cooking you get here for just under 100 euros. It comes with a changeable battery and three card slots. Two are designed for micro-sized SIM cards, one holds a microSD card to upgrade the internal memory, which is not lush at 16 gigabytes. With the Fantec you get a solid smartphone, with which you can start directly, not least because of the headset included.
The Moto G5S is unfortunately not only smaller than the Plus model, but it is also much poorer equipped. The quality of the camera remains far behind that of the big brother and also in terms of performance, it is still closer to the G5 without “S”. On the positive side, it should be noted that it now has an attractive unibody housing made of aluminium compared to its predecessor and also benefits from the new charging technology. But the battery can not change now. Despite the higher price, the Moto G5S Plus is the better choice for us, or our favourite Huawei P8 lite (2017).
The Wiko UFeel Prime is a thoroughly solid device with sufficient memory and good workmanship. If you do not want a memory extension and if you do not have enough 16 gigabytes, then the Wiko with 32 gigabytes of memory could be worth a look. The design is reminiscent of premium smartphones and just like these, the battery is not replaceable here. However, the camera does not come close to that of our favourite Huawei P8 lite, which is the better choice from our point of view for the same price.
In the fifth generation, the Moto G5 lags behind the competition but clearly behind. It does everything well, but nothing outstanding. This also applies to the battery life, which could be significantly better. For this comes the Moto G5 with two slots, with which either a second SIM or a memory extension can be used. But even others can do better now, after all, two of our recommendations come with three places. The price difference to the successor Moto G5S is not very big, because you grab in doubt rather to the newer model.
The Asus Zenfone 3 Laser gets more screen than our favourite and does not even have to accept larger dimensions, because the smartphone is not up to the new version, the edge has only narrowed. Again, there are 32 gigabytes of memory already by default from the factory, also can see the battery life. Only the long charging time of just under 4 hours spoils the good impression a bit. With just under 300 euros, but we find it too expensive, especially since the Zenfone 4 Max barely costs more.
The Lenovo K6 is a solidly made smartphone with good performance, an aluminium unibody case and a presentable finish. However, it has neither a removable back cover, a removable battery, or other capabilities that could set it apart from the other test candidates. But it is now very cheap to get and thus interesting for those who can not make friends with the newcomer Fantec Boogy.
With now less than $100, the Gigaset GS 160 looks like a bargain at first glance, after all, you have the opportunity to change the battery and use a second SIM card in parallel to the memory extension. A headset must be purchased at this price, however. The significantly lower performance, the weaker display and the battery life of just under nine hours do not justify the lower price in our view, because for a few euros more you get much better smartphones.