Guiding consumers since 2009

Cheapest mobile phones

By Jessica Anne Wood

As with everything else, the cost of mobile phones has increased. The latest model smartphones are by far the most expensive phones on the market. But what cheap alternatives are there?

Justmoney surveys the cheapest mobile available and finds out if they are value for money.

The cheapest phones by price bracket

Picking the top cheapest mobile phone can be tricky, as there are several phones that cost the same, and then you also have to consider the quality of the phone. But if you aren’t concerned about quality and just need a basic phone to make and receive phones then there are some real bargains to be had. There are a number of phone brands that I discovered when researching this article that I was not previously aware of. Below we look at the cheapest mobile phones available in a range of price categories, as well as the phones’ features.

  1. R100 – R200:

There are a number of phones available in this price bracket. On the PEP website there are phones that vary from R129 to R199. The Mini Mint retails for R129 and comes with a 4 gigabyte (GB) SD card. In addition, the phone features a back camera and GPS.

There is also the Samsung 1205 which sells for R159. This phone comes with a colour screen, an FM radio and MP3 ringtones. You also enjoy up to eight hours of talk time.

Topping this price bracket at R199 is the Nokia 105. According to the PEP website, this phone is “the embodiment of simple, functional cellular technology. As a primarily practical device, the Nokia 105 features a dust and splash-proof keypad, alarm clock, torch, SMS and up to 12 hours’ talk time, and promises hours of fun with entertainment features like great games and FM radio.” This phone is also available at MTN for the same price. As the highest value phone in this price bracket, you do enjoy the benefit of more features than those at the bottom of this price range.

  1. R200 – R300:

The phones in this category start to look at bit more ‘modern’ with a smartphone feel to them, although they may not offer the smartphone features. For example, there is the Telkom Hurricane Force Cellphone, which is available from Jet Cellular and CNA for R269.90.

PEP offers the ZTE R259 for R259. It comes with Bluetooth, a camera, Facebook connectivity, a memory card slot and an MP3 player.

There is also the Samsung E1205 available at PEP for R169 that features a mobile tracker and a torch.

  1. R300 – R400:

Available on a Cell C contract, PEP is offering the AG THINTA X for R349. This phone features a camera, an MP3 player and memory card slot. There are a number of other phones available from PEP for this price, including the Mobicel Blaze and the AG X-TYPE.

Topping this price bracket is the Mobicel Clicka at PEP for R399. The phone comes with a variety of features, including: Bluetooth, a camera, Facebook, a memory card slot, and radio. It also offers the ability to access the web.

  1. R400 – R500:

For those willing to spend a little more on their cell phone and have a few additional features, there are a number of phones available in the R400 to R500 price range.

NTB offers the Nokia 220, with a free starter pack, for R499. The phone comes with Facebook and Twitter preloaded, as well as a two megapixel camera and FM radio. However, PEP is offering this same phone for R449, highlighting the importance of shopping around for a phone and not purchasing the first one you come across.

Another phone on the market for R400 is the Vodacom VSP ZTE C310 on offer at Makro. The phone has a micro SD slot, as well as a five megapixel camera.


The above prices are to buy the phone outright. After the initial cost of the phone, you will also have to purchase a SIM card (which is about R1), as well as airtime to enable you to make calls and send SMSs. The cheapest phones appear to be available from PEP. However, Makro, MTN and several other stores offered some of the same phones available at PEP for the same or similar prices.

As an alternative, network providers such as MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom Mobile offer monthly contracts. You receive a cell phone and airtime and/or data and/or SMSs each month, depending on your contract type. The amount you receive will also depend on your contract. Once you have exceed your monthly amount, you generally have the option of purchasing more airtime etc., before your next month’s amount is loaded. However, with this, you need to be aware that it will be a monthly cost for the duration of the contract (usually 24 months), and during this time you will also be paying off the cell phone.

This may be a way to purchase a phone that you wouldn’t be able to afford outright, but it comes with a contract and a monthly commitment to pay for the contract. Ensure that you will be able to afford the monthly payments on the contract before taking one out.

Rather than purchasing a phone from a store, you could also buy an old phone from a family member,friend or buy one second hand online from websites like Gumtree. Here the only other outlay will be to purchase a SIM card if you don’t have one, and then the airtime/data that you will need.

Lastly, keep in mind that you don’t need the latest model cell phone to get by. If your phone works for you and has all the functionality that you require, there is no need to burden yourself financially to purchase the most popular or most current phone on the market. In many instances a month or so after a piece of technology enters the market, it is already out of date and a better version or option is available anyway.


*Of the network providers, MTN was the only one that offered the price of a low cost cell phone outright without a 24 month contract on its website.


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