Wading through the tide of smartphone deals can leave you feeling a little out of your depth. In order to help empower you to make the right choice for your budget and lifestyle, we're highlighting five Editors' Choice smartphone deals today. Save $165 on the iPhone 5S or $135 on the 5C, get the cheapest Galaxy S III around, or score a Nokia Lumia 521 for just $29.
Apple iPhone 5S 16GB No Contract Smartphone for Virgin Mobile
Store: Virgin Mobile
Price: $384.99 in-cart with free shipping
Lowest By: $165
Is It Worth It?: Until the iPhone 6 comes out, the iPhone 5S is still the best Apple has to offer. While CNET notes that the 5C is also an excellent choice, its reviewer ultimately comes down on the side of the 5S: "If you've waited for an iPhone all this time but skipped a generation or two, get the iPhone 5S. You'll appreciate the better camera and the cover-your-bases future-proofing." This Virgin Mobile offer on the best iPhone around has dropped $55 since our last mention, down to just $385. (It's also a current price low by $165.)
The iPhone 5S boasts an Apple A7 64-bit processor with an M7 motion coprocessor, a 4" 11136x640 Retina display, an 8-megapixel iSight camera, 1080p video capture at 30 fps, a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera, a built-in fingerprint reader, 802.11a/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0, dual microphones, and iOS 7.
Apple iPhone 5C 16GB No Contract Smartphone for Virgin Mobile
Store: Virgin Mobile
Price: $314.99 with free shipping
Lowest By: $135
Is It Worth It?: While the iPhone 5C may lack some of the 5S' future-proofing, this colorful counterpart is hardly a big step down. Macworld suggests the iPhone 5C as the perfect upgrade choice for those that are rocking a previous-gen phone, saying that "the iPhone 5C's compelling mixture of features, performance, and price is likely to persuade people with older models to upgrade. And it's an appealing, lower-cost option that should attract disaffected Android and Windows Phone users to the iOS fold." At $70 cheaper than the 5S above, this no-contract iPhone 5C deal is tied as the cheapest we've seen and a current price low by $135.
The iPhone 5C features an Apple A6 processor, a 4" 1136x640 Retina display, an 8-megapixel iSight camera, a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera, 1080p video capture, 802.11a/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0, dual microphones, and iOS 7.
Apple iPhone 4S 8GB Smartphone for AT&T Wireless bundled with a $100 AT&T Bill Credit
Store: AT&T Wireless
Price: Free with free shipping
Lowest By: $100
Expires: March 31
Is It Worth It?: Of course, buying the latest and greatest smartphone without a contract is not always the smartest choice. If your budget calls for a more conservative option, then go for the iPhone 4S. Right now, you can get this phone for free from AT&T with the activation of a 2-year contract, and you'll even score a $100 bill credit. That's a $100 savings and still one of the best deals we've seen for this iPhone. It's powered by an A5 dual-core processor and features a 3.5" 960x640 Retina display, an 8-megapixel camera, 1080p video capture, 8GB internal storage, 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0, and iOS 7.
Not interested in an iPhone? AT&T Wireless offers a selection of new and refurbished smartphones for free with the activation of a new 2-year contract. Plus, each includes the $100 bill credit mentioned above. With free shipping on all phones, it's tied as the best sale we've seen from AT&T. Note that it may take up to three billing cycles for the credit to appear. Most deals end March 31, although some may expire sooner.
Samsung Galaxy S III 16GB 4G No Contract Android Smartphone for Virgin Mobile
Store: Virgin Mobile
Price: $224.99 with free shipping
Lowest By: $25
Is It Worth It?: If you'd prefer an Android to the iPhones above, Samsung's Galaxy S III is a previous-gen forgotten gem. It was one of the first handsets to feature a screen made of Corning Gorilla Glass 2, as well as lots of useful motion-control features. "With its combination of form and function, the Samsung Galaxy S III excels where it counts," CNET said at the time of its release. You can get this phone from Virgin for just $225, which is the best price we've ever seen without a contract and a current low by $25.
The Galaxy S III sports a 4.8" 720x1280 touchscreen Super AMOLED display, a 1.5GHz Cortex A9 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of memory, an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 1.9-megapixel front camera, 1080p video recording, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, and Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean).
Nokia Lumia 521 No Contract Windows Smartphone for MetroPCS
Price: $29 via $20 mail-in rebate with free shipping
Lowest By: $31
Expires: April 9
Is It Worth It?: Windows Phone aficionados enjoy access to some of the smartest smartphone bargains around, thanks to Nokia's former partnership with the brand. For example, you can score a killer no-contract deal on the the Nokia Lumia 521 from MetroPCS, available for a very low $29 after rebate. That's a current price low by $31. Praising the Lumia 521's "minimal, elegant design," PC Mag said that "if you're looking for a solidly built phone that makes great calls, this is it."
The Nokia Lumia 521 has a 1GHz dual-core processor, a 4" 800x480 LCD display, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal memory, a 5-megapixel camera, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Windows Phone 8 OS.