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The iPhone is certainly one of the leaders in the smartphone game, but it's not exactly deal-friendly. Both Android and Windows phones are priced for a wide array of budgets, while still offering top-of-the-line features. (Or, as you'll see with some deals below, they can also offers a cheap barebones option.) Today we've rounded up the best current smartphone deals from Samsung, Dell, and HTC that offer great features and affordability.
Is It Worth It?: With no contract required, Amazon offers the Samsung Exhibit II 4G Prepaid Android Smartphone for T-Mobile for $189 with free shipping. (Walmart charges the same with free Site-to-Store shipping.) This deal is actually $6 below our Black Friday mention. CNET says this is "a seriously cheap Android Gingerbread phone that doesn't suck," and features a 3.7" touchscreen, 3-megapixel camera with 3x zoom and auto-focus, 720p video capture, 4GB internal memory, microSD card slot, Bluetooth 3.0, 802.11n wireless. To quote CNET again, "If you're all about bang for the buck, the Samsung Exhibit II 4G could be your next Android phone."
Is It Worth It?: Dell Outlet offers the factory-refurbished Unlocked Dell Venue Pro 16GB Windows Phone 7 Smartphone for $179 with free shipping, which is $71 less than a Black Friday mention for a new model. ZDNet calls the Venue Pro "the best Windows Phone 7 device." It includes a 1-year Dell warranty, and features a slide-out keyboard, Snapdragon 1GHz processor, 16GB non-removable microSD card, 4.1" 480x800 AMOLED touchscreen display, GPS, 5-megapixel camera, 802.11g wireless, Bluetooth, and more.
Is It Worth It?: Eager to give 4G speeds a try? Engadget calls this Android phone "one of the fastest (if not the fastest) devices we've played with to date, and fully embodies the term 'superphone.'" And, it's just $79.99 with a new 2-year contract with Sprint. This CDMA phone features a 4.52" 480x800 Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen display, Samsung Exynos C210 1.2GHz dual core processor, 8-megapixel camera with 4x zoom and auto-focus, 1080p video capture, 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 16GB internal memory, microSD card slot, Bluetooth, wireless connectivity, and Android 2.3 OS (Gingerbread).
Note: If you sign up for Mobile Hotspot (currently $29.99 per month, including 5GB of data) this purchase qualifies for a $100 Amazon Gift Card.
Is It Worth It?: While this unlocked Samsung Star S5230 smartphone is very barebones, it's also available for just $84.28 without contract obligations. The quad-band GSM smartphone weighs just 3.3 oz. and features a 3" 240x400 touchscreen display, 3.15-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP, microSD card slot, up to 10 hours of battery life, USB connectivity, and more. Note that it doesn't include 3G support or Wifi connectivity, and it runs a custom (read: probably limited) OS.
Is It Worth It?: BQ Shop via eBay offers the Unlocked HTC Explorer Pico A310e 3G Android Smartphone for $207.80, which is a $17 drop since last week. Techshout describes this phone as "pocket-friendly," although GSM Arena laments its CPU speed and fixed-focus camera. This GSM quad-band phone features a 3.2" 320x480 touchscreen LCD, 600MHz processor, 3.1-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 3.0, 512MB RAM, 90MB built-in memory, microSD card slot, Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS, and more.
Front page photo credit: 1800 Pocket PC