The mobile phone has truly become an all encompassing device, with the latest high-end handsets having evolved into portable Passepartouts - giving us video on demand, music whenever we want and the ability to communicate in a multitude of ways.
Well yes, that's all very good, but what if all you want from a phone is to make a quick call and send the odd text? And as the summer is approaching, with holidays on the horizon as well as a pretty beer-y World Cup season, some of us might not be that keen on taking our whizzy £400 touchscreen handsets with us abroad, or indeed down the local to watch the match.
Take this scenario for instance:
Bright eyed and bushy tailed you make your way down to the local public house as you've arranged with some chums to watch a football match.
During said match you partake in several pale ales (that being your preference) and are deeply shocked when your team wins.
Several more pints follow, in the midst of phone calls to friends, angry girlfriend etc. and before you realise (or not as the case may be) you awake; cold, clammy and resting your weary head on a hard unforgiving surface that resembles a pavement. You go to call a cab, and surprise your phone is missing.
Queue our handy list of budget phones for under £30, that will see you through those dark times, holiday times and pretty much any other times you have where you risk losing your phone.
Nokia 1661 (£4.95)
It's actually quite scary that anyone can sell a phone for under a fiver and it's probably best not to ask how. Never the less the Nokia 1661 optimises this era of cheap consumer goods, and available from Dial-a-Phone it's an absolute bargain. For your five pound note you won't get GPRS, Wi-Fi, 3G or 720p video play back, however an FM radio is included as well as the ability to MMS.
Samsung E1120 (£4.95)
Another bargain transportable telephone comes in the form of the Samsung E1120, also available from Dial-a-Phone. Costing just a fiver it wouldn't be fair to expect too much, and as long as you don't you'll be very happy with this handset. In terms of style it's a close call between this and the Nokia above, but we reckon the Samsung just about pips it - just don't bank on too many oohs and ahhs when you flash it about down the pub. The one exciting feature of this phone is the inclusion of a USB port - wow.
VX1 Party Phone (£9.49)
This is possibly the most well known out of the list, due to no small amount of coverage in the media on release. Coming at just under a tenner things are starting to look decidedly premium, but you get what you pay for and the VX1 trumps the previous two phones in one important area: it's available from Tesco SIM free, meaning you're a slave to no single carrier, huzzah.
Alcatel OT222 (£9 + £10 Airtime)
You'll be tied to Orange with this one, however it's arguably a more interesting handset than the VX1 (it's all relative) and you'll bag yourself £10 free airtime when you buy from Asda. This bargain flip handset gets an FM radio and vibration alert - the ideal travelling companion.
LG GB220 (£19.99)
We're getting into the realms of some seriously high-end stuff now with the LG GB220, and it's the first of our phones to feature a camera. Yes, you heard that right, it's both a camera and a phone merged into one handy device. It comes with an SD card slot, expandable up to 2GB, as well as the aforementioned 1.3-megapixel snapper - although you don't get a flash. Basic and a good price, but we're not certain a rubbish camera and limited storage justify the extra cash.
Alcatel OT-708 (£19.95)
Another Alcatel, and you're going to have to have some serious spendies at hand. £19.95 will get you the Alcatel OT-708, but why the high price we hear you cry? Well we'll tell you, it has a 2.4-inch touchscreen. The price above is for PAYG with Talk mobile via CPW, but there's an offer on the Orange network for £25 as well.
You'll get an MP3 music player that plays files in a range of formats, as well as an FM radio. It also supports microSD memory cards up to 4GB. There's a 1.3-megapixel camera with video recording, Bluetooth 2.0 for sharing content and you can get a bit of limited browsing done via GPRS.
3 INQ1 (£29.99)
The 3 INQ is described as a Facebook-friendly device as it comes with a Facebook app for keeping up to date with all your friend's, er, updates. The phone itself is solid and gets a 3.2-megapixel camera along with a dedicated button, which helps with those shoot-from-the-hip moments. The real bonus with this handset, however, is the inclusion of HSDPA, which will allow for some decent speeds when browsing the Internet. The homescreen is also pretty nice as it has space for web active widgets.
T-Mobile Vairy Touch (£29.99)
This little effort from T-Mobile is a pretty decent all-rounder and similar to the last handset, at £30, is about the top limit of what the average man on the street would want to pay for a phone without mourning its loss too much.
Connectivity wise you get GPRS for web browsing, Bluetooth and MMS, whilst the phone is expandable up to 1GB. The camera is nothing spectacular at 1.3 megapixels, but the screen is half decent with 65k colours on which you'll be able to take and playback video.
All of these prices can of course change, so please let us know if you find them cheaper or there are any handsets that you think are a decent budget option.
And a final word to the wise, be sure to back up any info on a spare SIM (that's if they're not all tucked up in bed at home in your posh smartphone) as the contacts you'll potentially end up losing, along with your new budget buddy, will be harder to replace.