Android handsets need not cost the earth. With prices from £15 per month on contracts, they’re actually some of the cheapest smartphones around. We name the models most deserving of your hard-earned greenbacks and prove once and for all that budget blower need not mean bargain basement.
1 HTC Wildfire S
The original Wildfire arguably did more to bring Android to the mass market than any other handset. Its successor is another winner from the House of HTC that feels and looks more like one a top-end smartie than another budget phone.
For as little as £20 per month on an Orange deal including data, you get a handset rocking the latest 2.3 Gingerbread version of Android, a five-megapixel camera with some ace filters, a 3.2-inch LCD screen and seven homescreens to fill with apps and widgets.
2 HTC Desire
Not too long ago, the Desire was the be all and end all of Android phones. A year and a bit later, it’s still right up there. But because we’ve since a slew of newer Desire phones for the early adopters to salivate over, you can get it for free from £20 per month.
In truth, with the exception of HD video recording, there’s very little that marks this out from the HD, which still attracts premium prices. Moreover, with an update to Android 2.3 on the way, the Desire is a taste of the high life at a price that even low-lifes can afford.
3 Samsung Galaxy Ace
Galaxy devices are like Tribbles. Every time you turn around, another one has appeared. But while the likes of the bleeding-edge, high-end Samsung Galaxy S 2 and new Tab slates nab the column inches, it’s the Ace that’ll appeal to cost-conscious Fandroids.
Although this runs the older 2.2 version of Android, you’ll still be able to run pretty much every app going. And besides we think that’s far outweighed by the Ace’s £15 per month price point, Duracell-esque battery life, tethering and quick and responsive, 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen. If you’re in the market for a compact take on Android, this could be just what you’re after.
4 Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini
Also landing later this year, the Mini is the smallest phone yet to feature HD video recording. Choose this handset and you’ll get a phone with Android 2.3, a crystal clear screen that features the same Bravia tech you find in Sony TV’s and Facebook functionality at its core.
Pricing is yet to be confirmed. But we expect it to be free from just over £20 per month.
5 Xperia Mini Pro
This is essentially the same handset as the Mini but with a physical QWERTY keyboard and Microsoft Office Suite pre-loaded. One for heavy messagers and anyone with business on the brain then.
6 HTC ChaCha
One for Facebook fans, this features a dedicated ‘Facebook’ button that gives you super speedy access to your social life and a physical QWERTY keyboard for tapping out status updates in a trice. As you’d expect for a phone that arrived just last month, it runs Android 2.3, too.
7 HTC Salsa
The Salsa is also home to a dedicated Facebook button. But because it doesn’t have a QWERTY keyboard, it’s got room for a larger 3.4-inch screen. Takes it design cues from the HTC Desire too, so looks every bit the high-end handset.
8 Samsung Galaxy Mini
Often dubbed as the Galaxy S’s little brother, the Android 2.2-powered Mini is a tiny bit of kit measuring 110mm tall, 60mm wide and 12mm thick. But it’s still got room for a three-inch screen, Quick Office for document editing and Swype pre-installed for simpler touchscreen typing.
9 LG Optimus Me P350
The LG Optimus Me is a cute handset with appealing rounded edges that weighs in at just 108g. That’ll get you a three-megapixel camera and the 2.2 version of Android. It’s not confirmed, but the fact that this only dropped in March suggests you might even get an update to Gingerbread too. Pick it up free from £15 per month.
10 HTC Wildfire
HTC recently ruled out an update to Android 2.3 for the Wildfire, so we’ve deducted points for that. But if you’re not too worried about what’s essentially a fairly minor OS bump, the Wildfire has much else to recommend it, including a 3.1-inch touchscreen, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter integration and a five megapixel camera.