Top 10 Budget Smartphones for 2012

April 23rd, 2012

2012 is not the best year to be alive. Mayans have predicted the end of the world on December 21st, and our wonderful economic system (that’s brought us great things like smartphones!) is on the brink of collapse. That being said, if the Mayans were so clever, then why are they now extinct?

Something that can be learnt from these tough times is to start keeping better track of the coppers in our pockets. Everyone – from politicians to Dave Average on the street – has picked up their own way of cutting financial corners to see them through. This may seem like an unappealing thing to do, especially considering how things like mobile technology are producing pricey, powerful smartphones that we all want to own.

But you don’t have to break your bank to hop on the ever-accelerating smartphone bandwagon. Here’s a list of 10 handsets that will help see you through the pending apocalypse at perfectly reasonable prices.

HTC 7 Trophy

Even though Microsoft are well behind in the smartphone OS rat-race, it seems that phones running on Windows Phone 7 are hard to find on the cheap (come to think of it, that’s probably one of the reasons they’ve fallen behind in the first place).

While the 7 Trophy isn’t exactly a cheap cheap phone at nearly £200, it’s still one of the more financially viable handsets to run the highly user-friendly OS.

You get a lot of power for the price, as it packs a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 8GB of expandable onboard storage and 576MB of RAM. It can also be upgraded to Windows Mango, the most refined and aesthetically pleasing Windows Phone OS to date.


Motorola DEFY+

If you’re buying a smartphone on a tight budget, then you presumably want peace of mind that it will actually last you a while.

That’s exactly what you get with the Motorola DEFY+, which is waterproof, dustproof, and could presumably survive attacks from nuclear and chemical weapons.

As well as being indestructible on the outside, it’s also quite beastly on the inside, with 800MHz processing power, 512MB RAM and 2GB of expandable onboard storage. Even though Motorola may not be the hippest phones on the market right now, you’re not going to find a sturdier phone for £180.

Samsung Galaxy Ace

Samsung Galaxy AceSamsung may be associated with the lofty grandness of their Galaxy S phone series, but phones like the Galaxy Ace prove that they’ve still got the interests of the little man at heart.

Looking suspiciously like a poor man’s iPhone 3G, the Ace packs a punch with 800MHz processing power and 278MB RAM. While there are phones on this list that run Android Gingerbread, this phone is still sadly stuck in the Froyo age. However, with a decent 5MP camera and a £159 price tag, one could easily be tempted.


Nokia 500

Nokia 500In the name of equal representation, we felt obliged to put a Symbian-running phone on this list, and the Nokia 500 is a worthy exponent of the largely neglected platform.

The Nokia 500 features a 1GHz processor, 256MB RAM, and a lowly 2GB of onboard storage which can – praise the Gods – be expanded using a microSD card.

The phone runs on the latest version of Symbian – Anna – which is the best version of the OS to date, and includes a new user interface, virtual QWERTY keypad in portrait mode and split-screen messaging. While its screen is only 3.2”, it squeezes in 229ppi, making the picture quality crispy clear.

Best of all, this humble phone can be picked up for the equally humble price of around £110.


HTC Wildfire S

HTC Wildfire S

HTC Wildfire S

With HTC planning on releasing a successor to the ugly little midget of their family, it’s worth giving some credit to one of the handsets that initiated the idea of a quality budget smartphone.

The stout Wildfire S has a 600MHz Qualcomm processor, a 5MP camera, and a 3.2” screen that may leave you squinting to see things at times.

That being said, it’s also upgradeable to Android Gingerbread, and has a battery that offers around 7 hours talk-time. Also you get to own an HTC phone for somewhere in the region of £130, so stop your moaning.


ZTE Skate

ZTE SkateSome phones are perplexingly good value for money, which is the case with this offering from ZTE.

The ZTE Skate features a substantial 4.3” display with a 480 x 800 resolution. It also packs a 5MP camera with LED flash and an 800MHz processor, making it one of the most powerful phones on this list.

As to be expected from such a surprisingly powerful (but still cheap) beast, it’s fully upgradeable to Android Gingerbread. Throw in Orange’s Signal Boost technology, and you’re looking at one of the best budget smartphones out there for a mere £140.


Blackberry Curve 3G 9300

What with their recent financial woes, Blackberry manufacturers RIM are a company that could do with a figurative hug, and we’ll give one to them by acknowledging their high-quality budget smartphone on this list.

The Curve 9300 has been around for a while now, but remains one of the most reliable phones for the organisationally-minded. Its pre-installed organisers, browser and voice memo apps are some of the best around, and the whole show runs very smoothly on a 624MHz processor and 256MB RAM.

This traditional-style Blackberry can now be picked up for £150 SIM-Free, and is a throwback to the days when RIM were actually quite prestigious in the smartphone market, and definitely deserves a look.


Samsung Wave 2

Samsung Wave 2 WhiteThe second Samsung phone to feature on this list is the sole representative of its very own Bada OS (1.2). It features a perfectly well-sized 3.7″ screen LCD capacitive touchscreen with a crisp 225 ppi pixel density.

The Wave 2 packs a punch with its 1GHz Cortex-A8 processor, which is just about as much as you can expect for the modest price of £170.

It has a nifty 5 MP camera with Geo-tagging and image stabilisation, and 2GB of onboard memory which can be expanded with microSD. Finally, it offers 6 – 13 hours of talk time, meaning that it’ll save you the money you’d usually spend on charging it daily (bet you didn’t think of that, did you?).


LG Optimus One

The Optimus One is without doubt the ugly duckling of the list, featuring an already old-school TFT 3.2″ touch-screen featuring a mere 256K colours. Furthermore, the LG handset has only 170MB of onboard memory, which can thankfully be expanded.

That being said, it runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread with no problems on its 600MHz processor, and can be picked up somewhere in the region of £115. For people who don’t want to over-commit to smartphones just yet, this is a decent entry-level offering.


Nokia Lumia 610

Nokia Lumia 610The Lumia series could be the kick up the ass that Nokia needs to get back on track in the smartphone game, and this budget offering could help them do it. Running on Windows Phone Mango, and coming in a variety of oh-so-pretty primary colours, the Lumia 610 is proof that Nokia haven’t completely lost touch with mobile customers.

The 3.7″ touch-screen packs a fine 252 ppi resolution, and it runs on a reasonably powerful 800MHz processor with 256 MB RAM. On the downside, its 8 GB of onboard memory capacity doesn’t make up for the lack of a microSD slot.

Not all is lost however. Despite not being as popular as the more hardcore Android OS, Windows Phone is a very accessible OS that’ll please smartphone newcomers. Furthermore, it manages to squeeze up to 10 hours 30 minutes of raw talk time out of its batter; that’s 35 hours of music and a massive 720 hours of standby time. A steal at £165.