Great smartphones for the budget-conscious

Smartphones make excellent gifts for this holiday season, but high-end handsets can cost a pretty penny. Fortunately, you don't have to spend a lot to still get a well performing, stylish device. Whether they're previous flagships from the year before, or a solid phone that flew under the radar, check out these reliable smartphones that won't empty out your wallet.

Updated:
Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET / Caption by:

Apple iPhone 5S

Those who aren't feeling the bigger screens of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be keen to know that the 4-inch 5S is still available and cheaper than ever. At $99 on-contract, users will get Apple's smooth iOS, a fantastic camera, and a fingerprint scanner -- all packed in a stylish metal device.

Read full review
Updated:
Photo by: CNET staff / Caption by:

Samsung Galaxy S4

Ranging from $0 to $50 with a carrier agreement, the Galaxy S4 may be last year's flagship, but it still manages to be better than higher-end, mid-tier handsets currently available on the market. It's equipped with a vibrant 1080p display, tons of nifty TouchWhiz software features, and a solid 13-megapixel camera.

Read full review
Updated:
Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET / Caption by:

Motorola Droid Maxx

"One cent" on-contract is a pretty good price to pay for a handset with a high battery capacity. Promising 48 hours of continuous usage time, the Droid Maxx is the go-to champ for a long-lasting handset. Plus, it has a handsome design and a quality screen to boot.

Read full review
Updated:
Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET / Caption by:

LG G2

For a lean, mean, screen machine, the G2 is an affordable phone with an ultra-sharp 5.2-inch display. It also features useful software tools like Guest Mode and KnockOn, a lightning-quick camera, and a quad-core CPU.

Read full review
Updated:
Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET / Caption by:

Nokia Lumia Icon

Available from Microsoft for $99 with a two-year agreement for Verizon, the Lumia Icon is a top-notch Windows Phone handset. Packaged in a sleek metal-trimmed design, the device has a beautiful screen, a refreshing UI from Microsoft, and a 20-megapixel camera that takes great images in low-light environments.

Read full review
Updated:
Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET / Caption by:

BlackBerry Q10

There's just something about a physical keyboard that is irresistible. With the Q10, users can peck away messages and texts on a portrait QWERTY keyboard with ease. The device also has a long battery life and a reliable performance. On AT&T and Verizon it costs $50 on-contract, and $100 on Sprint.

Read full review
Updated:
Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET / Caption by:

LG G Vista

Packing an expansive 5.7-inch display, the G Vista is a relatively current budget phablet that runs on Android 4.4.2. It also has an 8-megapixel camera, a Snapdragon 400 processor, and a reasonable $50 on-contract price tag.

Read full review
Updated:
Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET / Caption by:
Hot Galleries

CNET's top picks

9 vacuums you need to see

We’ve selected a variety of vacuums that offer something extraordinary – from a fantastically sturdy upright to a low-key bot with Roomba-level performance.

Hot Products