Time was when buying a cheap phone meant having to make do with a really sluggish device, running an old version of Google's operating system that locked you out of the most exciting apps on the platform.
Happily, times have changed as more and more mobile makers have jumped aboard Google's Android bandwagon. Now established as by far the most popular phone platform in the UK, prices have been driven downhill.
Motorola has made shopping around for a bargain much easier with the launch of the Moto G, as its solid lineup of specs far outstrip anything else you'll find around its £130 price.
The 4.5-inch phone packs a bright and bold, 720p resolution display, solid build quality, a nippy quad-core processor, decent battery life, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (with a guaranteed update to 4.4 KitKat in January) and it has colourful, interchangeable cases. You'd typically find that sort of kit on considerably more expensive phones.
Unless you absolutely crave 4G data speeds (unlikely, if you're on such a tight budget -- you won't find 4G at this price yet) or have some peculiar aversion to Motorola, there's really no need to look anywhere else. There are a few things to bear in mind if you do insist on shopping around though.
For £100 and less
If you're trying to save every single penny, there are a few options available that sneak in under the £100 barrier, but you should be realistic about what to expect. You won't struggle to find a cheap Android blower with a 1GHz processor and a screen pushing 4 inches.
Those phones will manage the essential calls, texts and some social networking, but don't ask them to tackle gaming or image editing.
If you can't afford £100, there are cheaper 'droids out there -- although it obviously follows that the less cash you spend, the less exciting an experience you should expect.
Around the £90 mark, there are some solid options with chips in the 1GHz range. It's really worth stressing that there can be a considerable difference in performance at the cheap end of the Android market, so spend your money wisely.
Most affordable 'droids come running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean these days. With most top-end phones arriving with the latest 4.3 Jelly Bean or 4.4 KitKat software on board, there's no excuse for anything less than Jelly Bean, even on budget blowers.
Pretty much all low-cost Androids will be skinned with the mobile maker's own software sitting atop the operating system -- but some come swaddled in such a heavy wrapper that it really degrades the experience, slowing it down and/or making the interface much more cumbersome than it needs to be. Go in for a hands-on to see what you think of the interface.
For sub-£100, you won't yet find quad-core chips, but a reasonably fast dual-core chip can still provide enough power for everyday tasks. Multi-core devices are typically better at multi-tasking -- if you want a smart phone for gaming, squeeze the extra few quid for the Moto G.
Like the processor, screen size will also vary considerably depending on how much you spend. The largest pane you should expect to trouser for around £100 is likely to measure around 4 inches on the diagonal. Smaller screens will mean hitting the wrong letters on the keyboard and prodding small links in Web pages will be much more challenging. Those of you with chunky fingers should think hard about smaller screens.
In terms of screen resolution, the more pixels, the better, as low-res screens are tiresome to look at for long periods, with on-screen content appearing fuzzy. Really low-res screens (320x480 pixels or below) are seriously unpleasant on the eyeballs -- and may even give you a headache. Avoid if at all possible.
Tips for making the most of your money
One handy tip for budget shoppers is to hunt for an Android with a microSD card slot so you can affordably expand internal storage. That way you can buy a handset with a small amount of built-in memory -- hopefully meaning your initial outlay is lower -- and bulk the storage out on the cheap with your own SD card.
Above all, do your research before splashing your hard-earned cash. Reading reviews is great but there's also no substitute for getting your own fingers on a phone. Take a trip to your local mobile shop to check out your options before parting with the contents of your piggy bank.
Make sure to check out how much older phones are going for, too. You might find higher-end mobiles from a couple of years ago for a bargain price on Amazon or similar. Some of these might provide more power than more recent low-end phones, but make sure to properly compare what each offers.
Here's the best of the current crop of bargain Android phones, as reviewed by CNET UK.