5 of the best budget smartphones

The power of a smartphone without expensive contract strings attached – these budget smarties should suit your pocket in more ways than one

BlackBerry Curve 9380

£260, uk.blackberry.com

People associate BlackBerrys with a physical keyboard; not so this all-touch affair. It’s therefore surprising that its screen is a small 3.2in, but that at least makes it compact and nice to hold. Its built-in NFC promises a bright future of mobile payments and Oyster card-free public transport.

Motorola Defy+

£220, motorola.com

Need a phone to take scuba diving? Or just congenitally clumsy? Either way, the Defy+, the update to 2010’s Defy, is for you. Unlike most rugged phones, this one is clever enough to be called a smartphone. It’s a toughie with protection against shocks, dust and up to one metre of water; even the bright, colourful 3.7in display is protected with super-scratchproof Gorilla Glass.

Apple iPhone 3GS

£320, apple.com/uk

Launched in the heady days of 2009, the iPhone 3GS is the oldest phone here. This is no zimmer-wielding wrinkly, though. Build and styling is still premium, and the 600MHz processor is far from disgraceful. Perhaps the greatest appeal it holds is that it’s the cheapest way to get hold of iOS 5, the most intuitive, sophisticated smartphone OS around.

Samsung Galaxy Ace

£175, samsung.com/uk

With its rounded corners and single visible home button, the Ace looks eerily like a poor man’s iPhone 4. Still, it’s tactile, light and glossy, even if it can’t match that model for build quality. Hitting that very affordable price has involved some cuts, too, so you get an older Android 2.2 (Froyo) OS powered by an 800MHz processor.

HTC Radar

£285, htc.com

HTC is the master of customisation, tweaking Android to within an inch of its life. While this phone’s Windows OS is trickier to tinker with, HTC has still produced a unique smartphone, with its Hub and signature weather app sitting front and centre. Best of all, the Radar undercuts the 3GS on price, and its 1GHz processor still makes it a comparative powerhouse.

You can find up-to-date reviews of all the smartphones in this round-up in Stuff’s April 2012 issue, on sale throughout March 2012

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