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While there are some advantages to sticking with your old phone, the new year should start off with a new mobile. So whether you're knee-deep in the Apple ecosystem or have a preference for Androids, we've gathered above-average smartphone deals from a free iPhone 5C (with contract renewal) to a palm-sized Galaxy Note 3.
Is It Worth It?: With its dominating 5.7" display, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is "a device that could ostensibly take the place of both a smartphone and a tablet," says The Verge. But this phone isn't a marketing gimmick, as it provides speedy performance and better-than-average battery life. With a new 2-year contract, this Editors' Choice phone is at an all-time low. It features a 5.7" AMOLED touchscreen display, 3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, 802.11n wireless, S Pen, 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash, 2-megapixel front facing camera, Bluetooth 4.0, and Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean). It's also available in White for both Verizon and Sprint.
Is It Worth It?: Though it's easy to dismiss as the "budget iPhone," Engadget says the iPhone 5C is "a gorgeous handset that brings a breath of fresh air to the iPhone lineup." And if you think it's just a gussied iPhone 5, CNET reminds us that it's got more widely compatible global LTE coverage, an upgraded front-facing camera, and slightly better battery life. Currently at its lowest price ever, this Editors' Choice phone (which requires a 2-year contract renewal) features an Apple A6 processor, 4" 1136x640 Retina display, 8-megapixel iSight camera, 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera, 1080p video capture, 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0, and dual microphones.
Is It Worth It?: If you're looking for a reliable mid-range phone that also happens to be prepaid, the Samsung Illusion is your device. It lacks 4G connectivity and it packs a small 3.5" display, but CNET says the form factor is "classic Samsung" that "mostly delivers." The Editors' Choice handheld features a 3.5" 320x480 touchscreen LCD, 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird Application Processor, 512MB RAM, 2GB internal storage, 3-megapixel rear camera, 802.11g wireless, Bluetooth, microSD card slot, and Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread).
Is It Worth It?: CNET calls the Nokia Lumia 521 "one of the best bargain smartphones on any platform," but there's a caveat — it lacks 4G connectivity. However, if LTE support is not an issue, the smartphone features a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1GHz dual-core processor, 4" 800x480 IPS LCD, 512MB RAM, 8GB internal memory, 5-megapixel camera, microSD slot, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Microsoft Windows Phone 8 OS.
Is It Worth It?: "The Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE packs quite a few features into a basic but usable package," says CNET. Sure, it's heavier and bulkier than most modern smartphones, but the Victory holds up thanks to a "reliable Android experience and some sturdy mid-range hardware." At $25 under our Black Friday week mention, this Editors' Choice handheld features a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 4" touchscreen LCD, 5-megapixel camera, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, Google Wallet, wireless and 4G connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0, up to 7 hours of talk time, up to 9 days of standby, and Android 4.1 OS (Jelly Bean).