5 of the best budget smartphones

You don't have to fork over a huge chunk of change to pick up a decent smartphone – check this lot out

Nokia 500

Impressive specs and affordable pricing rarely go hand-in-hand, but the Symbian Anna powered 500 breaks that tradition. A 1GHz processor ensures everything chugs along smoothly, while a 3.2in 640x360 pixel touchscreen, 5MP camera, 2GB of storage (expandable to up to 32GB via microSD) and 5-7 hours of talk time are on hand to deliver a decent smartphone experience. It's due for arrival in the next few weeks to prove you don't have to sacrifice performance on a budget with its predicted £155 price tag.

Orange Monte Carlo

Bang-for-buck is the main theme here. Despite the silly name, the spec sheet of this ZTE handset is akin to the kind of features you'd find on more high-end smartphones: Gingerbread 2.3, 5MP camera, 800MHz CPU and a huge 4.3in display. Throw in Orange's Signal Boost/smart Wi-Fi app and HD Voice and you're looking at one of the best value smartphones around that will not only satisfy your frugal side, but also your desire to have a brilliant smartphone experience.

Samsung Galaxy Mini

A Galaxy S2 would be nice, wouldn't it? But its price is hardly pocket-friendly. How about an affordable option from the Galaxy stable that's good looking, throws up Swype, microSD expansion of up to 32GB and Samsung's own Touchwiz UI? Unlike the HTC Wildfire S and and Monte Carlo, it's not quite up to date in the Android department, packing 2.2, and it's low resolution 3.1in screen may irritate the eyes, but being such an affordable entry into the world of Android, this pint-sized mobile is a great way to get your foot on the smartphone ladder.

HTC Wildfire S

Its predecessor was the poor man's Desire – an affordable handset designed to give you the smartphone experience minus all the frills – but the Wildfire S isn't so laughable. This time round, it's better looking, sports a better screen, a 5MP camera, premium aesthetics, the latest version of the Google OS and HTC's very own Sense UI. The only feature letting the side down is its 600MHz processor, but given that you get all the above for a knock-down price, it can be forgiven.


LG Optimus Me

An attractive compact design, combined with subtle tweaks to the Android operating system, such as altered menus, exclusive widgets and time-saving features make this phone an excellent entry-level addition to Android. It's behind the curve with Froyo, a 3MP cam and a 600MHz processor but you can't argue with its affordable price tag. And with 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on board you're looking at a great little social networking device, or simply a phone to keep you entertained with plenty of apps from the Market.


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