Best budget Android phones

Android has fast become the mobile phone operating system of choice for anyone who wants to enjoy a world of widgets, but doesn’t want to buy into the Apple eco-system. The launch of the HTC Desire HD and the Desire Z mark the latest chapter in the Android saga, but they're not likely to be the cheapest phones around.

Smartphones can be costly, and we’re not all made of money. To help you out if you’re looking to go Google but haven’t got a fortune to spend, we’ve rounded up 7 great options that fall on the affordable side of the fence.

As options vary greatly in terms of OS, specs, design and target market, it’s worth having a read of our round-up below to see which handset will suit you.


HTC Wildfire

OS
Android 2.1 with HTC Sense
Memory
MicroSD up to 32GB
Screen
3.2 inches
Camera
5MP

HTC took two attempts to make a great handset for the mid-range, mass Android market, but the Wildfire certainly is that. An HSDPA device, it boasts Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and a decent camera. What sets the Wildfire apart from other devices, at least for the youth market, is the Sense UI that boasts FriendStream for simple social networking, advanced caller ID that shows the caller’s Facebook status and an app-sharing widget. The only downside is the lack-lustre display which does not compare well with higher-end handsets.

Full Review


Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini

OS
Android 1.6
Memory
MicroSD up to 16GB
Screen
2.55 inches
Camera
5MP

The biggest selling point for the X10 mini is its tiny size. It is seriously dinky at just 83 x 50 x 16mm but manages to pack in proper camera functionality, complete with video capture, Wi-Fi, GPS, FM radio and a media player. The older OS build and limiting screen size mean it’s not suited to anyone who is a die-hard Android fan, but if you’re looking to do the robot in a dinky way, it’s a great option. The X10 mini is just seriously cute, an attribute that you may or may not want in a phone. If you do want it then you’ll likely also like the interchangeable, colourful range of clip-on covers that come bundled in the box.

Mini Review


LG GW620

OS
Android 1.5
Memory
MicroSD up to 32GB
Screen
3 inches
Camera
5MP

If you still like your phones to boast a physical keyboard then the GW620 could be for you as it offers a cracker of a slide-out, 5-line QWERTY with well-spaced buttons and backlighting built-in. The Cupcake Android build may not be sweet enough for everyone but an affordable price tag, great battery life, substantial build and well-rounded specs mean this could be a great option for QWERTY-lovers who put function over form.

Full Review

 

HTC Legend

OS
Android 2.1
Memory
MicroSD up to 32GB
Screen
3.2 inches
Camera
5MP

In the context of this list, the Legend is like the Wildfire, but for grown-ups. Boasting seriously smooth good looks thanks to a swanky made-from-one-block-of-aluminium construction, and great build quality, we described the Legend as “luscious and strokeable” in our review. The Legend offers an up-to-date Android build, topped off with HTC’s Sense UI and FriendStream, the on-screen keyboard is so good you won’t even think to yearn for QWERTY, while there’s no gap in the specs. HTC had a tough job to follow up on the award-winning, and popular, Hero, but it has done it with the Legend.

Full Review

 

Motorola Dext

OS
Android 1.5
Memory
MicroSD up to 32GB
Screen
3.1 inches
Camera
5MP

After trying and failing to recapture the stellar success of the RAZR, Motorola has now put its eggs into the Android basket, offering some decent mid-range options as well as more publicised offerings such as the Milestone. The Dext is an odd beast as it doesn’t offer trendy looks particularly, but by all accounts if you spend some time setting up the Motoblur skin it offers an amazing social networking experience through its Contacts and Happenings features. Giving this even more youth appeal, it offers a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and it’s available free on contract, or cheap on PAYG.

Full Review

 

Acer Liquid S100

OS
Android 1.6
Memory
MicroSD
Screen
3.5 inches
Camera
5MP

The Acer Liquid S100 is an Android handset for anyone who (shock!) isn’t into their social networking, as although you will find social options built-in, the phone isn’t in your face about you enabling them. With HSDPA, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the Liquid S100 gets a snappy, Snapdragon processor and a gorgeous high-res display, quality touches slightly at odds with the white plastic-y build. The line of hidden status LEDs that illuminate with battery, message and a call indicator across the top of the phone are ideal for users who want to stay updated but without making a show of it, as perhaps is the Liquid S100 itself.

Full Review

Motorola Flipout

OS
Android 2.1
Memory
MicroSD up to 32GB
Screen
2.8 inches
Camera
3MP

Well-named, as you’ll either flip-out over the kookiness of this handset’s design - or you won’t - the unconventional form factor makes this one stand out from the crowd, while it competes with the X10 mini as far as dimensions go and also offers similarly interchangeable clip-on covers in a variety of colours. Specs are well-rounded, the display quality is decent, the touchscreen responsive, the keyboard well laid out, the Motoblur UI great for social types and the Android build up-to-date. In fact, the only thing to pause over is the camera quality - it’s not the best, so you need to consider whether you can put up with that, in order to be hip to be square.

Full Review

 

LG Optimus Chic

OS
Android 2.2
Memory
150MB expandable with microSD
Screen
3.2 inches
Camera
5MP

 

Aimed at style-concious types, the svelte Optimus Chic (LG-E720) sports a 3.2-inch capacitive LCD touchscreen with a 320 x 480-pixel resolution. The Chic not only boasts the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G connectivity, it also offers DNLA which lets you stream music and videos between devices. Along with a 5-megapixel camera, the classy handset also has the ability to encode video at 30fps, compared to the 18fps encoding capabilities of its sibling, the Optimus One. It certainly looks cool, but you might not look so cool when your battery runs out after just 330 minutes of 3G use on a single charge.

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