The rand
  • We've picked the best smartphones widely available in South Africa for under R1,000.
  • They're not the fanciest, but are many are surprisingly powerful.
  • Most of the brands are not as well known as the likes of Samsung or Huawei, but don't be put off by that.
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Smartphones can be expensive. A serious flagship, like a top of the line Samsung S20 can set you back in the region of R30,000 – or the price of a second-hand car.

Luckily you can get by for much cheaper, especially if you’re willing to shell out cash instead of buying on credit.

They’re not going to be the fastest, or shiniest toys on the block, but they’re surprisingly full-featured, and handle apps like Instagram or Whatsapp with ease. The brands are a bit less known; you won’t find Samsung or Apple but, if you’re looking for a cheap, no-frills smartphone, you have more options than you think.

These are some of the best smartphones for under R1,000 currently widely available in South Africa.

Mobicel Astro

South African manufacturer Mobicel first unveiled the Astro in 2018. For R429 from PEP, it’s just about the cheapest smartphone available. It has a pretty small 4-inch touchscreen and only 512MB of RAM. But it runs Android, using the smaller, less data-intensive GO apps, has a 1.3Ghz processor, a 2MP rear camera. Also, the battery lasts ages. It doesn’t come close to competing with flagship mobile phones, but it’s not designed to – it’s a cheap, cheerful and surprisingly full-featured phone for under R500.

R429 from PEPcell.

Hisense U962

One of South Africa’s most popular smartphones, the Hisense U962 has 1GB RAM and 8GB of storage. It's got a small 4-inch display and a 1.3 GHz processor. The battery isn't huge, but it doesn't need to be. A big draw is the 8MP rear camera. There’s also a version with a 5-inch screen for an extra R100.

R699 from PEPcell

Vodacom Kicka 6

Vodacom’s budget Kicka smartphones actually pack a surprising punch. The newest version, Kicka 6, has a 5.4-inch touchscreen, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage, which is surprisingly decent considering the phone retails for under R800. It also has nice 5MP front and rear cameras, a pretty beefy battery, and can reach 4G speeds. It runs Android’s GO apps.

R799 from GAME

Microsoft Lumia 640 LTE

It’s not for everybody – it’s a Microsoft phone, which means you don’t have access to Google’s Play Store, or the Apple App Store. But it’s got apps, just a much more limited selection. It’s got 8GB of internal storage and 1GB of RAM, a 5.56-inch screen, and a quad core 1.2Ghz processor. The main draw is the 8MP rear camera, and LTE connectivity. It’s a good phone, but think carefully before you buy it. Did we mention it’s R799?

R799 from Takealot

Hisense E6

The fancier version of the U962, for an extra R300. What does that get you? A bigger screen (at 5.5 inches), a much beefier battery, and LTE capability. Both front and rear cameras are 8MP. Also, you can unlock it with your face, like more expensive, fancier phones. It runs Android 8, with the GO apps.

R999 from PEPcell

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