8 off-contract smartphones compete without breaking the bank

The Nexus 5 could be the best overall smartphone value right now, but at least half a dozen other competitors for the title have recently emerged.

The Galaxy S4 Mini is one way to get some of that Galaxy S4 pizzazz at half the cost. Sarah Tew/CNET

This holiday season is shaping up to be the year that getting a solid new Android smartphone doesn't also mean signing up for 24 months of ever-increasing monthly fees at the same time.

The trend away from flagship phones that required such big commitments in order to lock down a quality device for under $400 arguably started last year with the release of the Nexus 4 from Google, available unlocked for just $299.

This year, Google filled in some of the gaps with the Nexus 5, which -- unlike its predecessor -- comes with LTE support and is again available for half the price of other flagships, and with the latest version of Android KitKat to boot.

While the Nexus 5 now represents perhaps the best all around value in a smartphone, I tracked down over half a dozen other devices that also offer decent phones at great prices -- as much as 50 percent below the price of even the Nexus 5.

Browse through our gallery of smartphone steals below and let me know in the comments and on Twitter (@crave and @ericcmack) if I've left any out.

Featured Video

Your phone's screen is ruining your sleep

Staring at your Phone's screen might be hazardous for your sleep, unless you change the color temperature. Sharon Profis explains on "You're Doing It All Wrong."

by Sharon Profis