Apple iPhone 5: Five cheaper choices from just £50

Apple's new iPhone 5 offers up a huge selection of apps, a gorgeous screen and amongst the best design around, but starting at £519 SIM-free, it's very much the expensive option.

Luckily there are some great cheaper alternatives out there running Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows Phone and even Apple’s iOS operating systems.

The T-Mobile Vivacity is the cheapest kid on the block offering smartphone brains for just £50. The Nokia Lumia 710 delivers a slick user interface for around £100. For £200 Samsung’s Galaxy Ace 2 gives you music, gaming performance and a sharp shooting camera.

The Orange San Diego also comes in at £200 and packs a gorgeous 4-inch screen, perfect for video. Finally, the iPhone 3GS is for all those mobile users who want Apple, only Apple and nothing but Apple, and all for £159. Our in-depth reviews should help you pick which is best for you.

T-Mobile Vivacity £50
The most cost-effective phone in our list comes in at just £50. While the T-Mobile Vivacity may look like an iPhone. it's actually built by ZTE and runs Android. It doesn't offer up super speed or aluminium design, but it does have a sharp WVGA screen, a 5-megapixel camera and offers access to all the apps on the Google Play store. Not bad for £50.

Nokia Lumia 710 from £100
Windows Phone is the operating system most comparable to iOS in terms of visual polish and ease of use. That you can get a Nokia Lumia 710 for as little as £100 if you look around, is fantastic considering it’s got a faster processor than an iPhone 4, a sharp 3.7-inch screen and a 5-megapixel camera. The icing on the cake comes in the form of Nokia’s own apps. These include Nokia Mix Radio for free offline music, Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive, turning your budget smartphone into a fully functioning offline GPS with turn by turn voice instructions.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 from £200
If an iPhone 5 is too expensive, the obvious alternative is a Samsung Galaxy S3. They’re not exactly cheap though. For some of the key functionality of the Galaxy S3 for around £200 (or £15 per month), the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 comes in highly recommended. Loaded with a dual-core processor and a crisp screen, it also offers Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface for that Samsung Galaxy experience. With free access for a limited time to Samsung’s Official Top 40 music app, good gaming performance and a great camera, the Galaxy Ace 2 makes for the best teen-targeted phone in our list.

Orange San Diego from £200
One of the key reasons iPhone fans are upgrading to the iPhone 5 is the screen. With additional size and a longer aspect ratio, its 4-inch display is better for movies, games and optimised apps. In the Android world though, there’s a phone called the Orange San Diego. Also packing a very sharp 4-inch display and a virtually identical aspect ratio to that of the iPhone 5, it’s a great buy for just £200. Powered by an Intel processor, it’s powerful enough to handle HD videos and 3D games and even delivers an HDMI port, so you can easily plug it into your TV and enjoy your mobile movies on a big screen.

iPhone 3GS from £159
If you’ve read all our recommendations and you still want an iPhone for under £200, then there really is just one option out there, the iPhone 3GS. Available on eBay for as little as £159, despite inferior hardware to the iPhone 5, the 3GS is still getting the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 6 albeit with tapered functionality. What do we mean by ‘tapered functionality’? When compared to its bigger screened brother, the iPhone 5, Apple’s iPhone 3GS will forgo the likes of Panorama, Siri and Flyover, as well as turn-by-turn navigation in maps. The 3GS will still support most of the apps out now and offer tight integration with the iTunes ecosystem, not to mention deliver Apple’s slick design and stunning build quality.