The hot list – July 2014

This month, alongside our normal collection of great gadgets and digital desirables, we’ve put three of the most recent budget smartphones head-to-head to see which provides the best bang for your limited buck

The hot list - July 2014

Moto E


Despite the success of its bigger brother, last year’s £135 budget hit the Moto G, you’d be forgiven for thinking that when a smartphone drops down to just £90 there’d be some pretty major scrimping on features. Not so. The Moto E still comes with a 256ppi, 4.3-inch qHD screen and is solidly built. Perhaps most importantly, given its comparatively modest processor, it now packs an incredibly clean version of KitKat 4.4.3, unadulterated by bloatware or poorly designed user interface overlays. While its camera is rather underwhelming, this is probably the best phone you’ll find for such a small price tag.



The indisputable king of instant photography, the Lomo’instant knocks the dowdy old Polaroid into a cocked hat, packaging SLR flexibility with immediate results. Not only can the camera use interchangeable lenses, it has manual shooting modes, can take unlimited multiple exposures per frame, capture exposures as long as your heart’s desire for night time photography and comes with colour gels for creative snapping. Frankly, Lomo’instant puts Instagram’s feature set to shame, which, for an analogue camera, is one hell of an achievement.


EE Kestrel


EE’s first entrant into the smartphone market, the £99 Kestrel is a blend of the sublime and the ridiculous. On the plus side, it has the best screen of any our budget smartphones, coming with a 4.5-inch, 245ppi. But odd design choices rather tar this; the Kestrel’s headphone jack is inexcusably placed on its side, meaning that music fans will be facing a hell of a lot of snagging when taking it in and out of pockets. However, there’s one feature that could ameliorate this frustration – the Kestrel comes with 4G, something you won’t get for a comparable price anywhere else.



If there’s one thing Apple is notorious for, it’s how rigidly it guards the gates to your device, making it impossible to transfer files without using its proprietary software. That is what makes the iStick so amazing: a flash drive with both USB and Lightning connector, it allows you to move files from your computer to your phone without faffing about in iTunes, stream movies and music live from the drive or completely back up the contents of your phone to your computer. And the most impressive part? It’s 100% Apple-approved.


Nokia Lumia 630


With its luminous colours, the Nokia Lumia 630 is the very definition of cheap and cheerful. But this belies quite how serious a piece of kit it is for its £99 price tag. It comes with a nippy quad-core 1.2GHz processor and has a camera that easily rivals that of the Kestrel. It’s not entirely without flaws though: the Windows Store is still lacking some key items, although this is gradually improving, and it has no front facing camera, meaning that if you really like to pose for your selfies you’ll be better off looking elsewhere. 

Josh Russell
Josh Russell

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