How to buy a budget phone in South Africa


What will a R20 000 phone do for you that a R2 000 phone can’t? Do you even really need it? Tech readers know that you can get great results from a low-priced phone if you shop smart.

Ready to buy? Check our list of top budget phones in South Africa.

3G vs 4G LTE

Not all budget phones have 4G or LTE capabilities, but this isn’t a a deal-breaker. Good 3G coverage is adequate for most purposes, uses up far less of your battery power, and saves some data.


Glass-backed phones certainly look luxurious, but the glass back is often the first thing to break on upmarket phones. Plastic (and especially poly-carbonate, which is used on Nokia phones) is far more durable. It also doesn’t affect the cellular signal as some other materials might.


It’s now normal to find phones with large six-inch screens below R3 000, and many of them are bright and sharp. However, they lack several of the advanced features found on upmarket phones – especially for video playback – and they usually have lower pixel density.


Apps keep getting bigger, so you should have at least 16 GB of data storage if you consider yourself a serious phone user. You can add a microSD memory card for storing files, but most apps must be stored on the phone itself. Low storage space slows your phone down.


The phone screen uses up more than half of your battery power. Bigger, sharper screens consume the most power, by far. Any phone with a screen larger than six inches should have a battery of at least 4 000 mAh.


More cameras don’t always make better photos. This is because a lot of new tech is in the photo software. A good single-lens camera can take perfectly good photos if you take the time to master it.

Phone covers

Lesser-known brands often include phone covers in the box because vendors don’t carry them in stock. You might want to check the availability of covers before your purchase, if this is important to you.

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