Great phones don't have to cost an arm and a leg. Sure, the handsets that carriers put on sale aren't the newest or most updated devices, but that doesn't mean they aren't built well, don't make excellent calls, or don't offer reliable performance. CNET rounded up some of the best smartphones that are available right now for rock-bottom prices and a carrier contract. And when we say inexpensive, we mean it -- none of the handsets in this list costs more than a dollar.
Starting us off is the gorgeous Evo 4G LTE. With its red accents and familiar kickstand, you can see that the folks over at HTC really spent some time on its design. But that's just the cherry on top when considering the handset's superb camera, 4G LTE capabilities, and 4.7-inch Super LCD display. Read the full review here. (Free from Sprint)
Editor's note:This slideshow was first published on February 19, 2013, and was updated with additional handsets on May 13, 2013.
Now that T-Mobile's gone prepaid, a few of its phones come with no down payment. The Blaze 4G is one of them, and it impressed us with its decent 5-megapixel camera, zippy 1.5GHz dual-core CPU, and (most importantly when it comes to a phone), excellent call quality. Read the full review here. (No down payment from T-Mobile)
Perfect for first-time smartphone buyers who like the feel of a physical keyboard, the Marauder features a comfortable five-row keyboard. It also has an optional user interface that's been simplified to keep things from getting too cluttered. Read the full review here. (Free from Verizon)
With its unique, pop-art design, the HTC 8X is one of our favorite WP8 phones. But in addition to its hip look, it also has a powerful processor and 4G LTE speeds. Note that only the 8GB, Limelight version of this handset is available at the sale price. Read the full review here. (99 cents from AT&T)
Though it has a few minor flaws (including its poor speaker and the fact that you have to buy extra accessories to enable its wireless-charging features), the solid performance and free price of Verizon's Lucid 2 will satisfy first-time smartphone users on a budget. Read the full review here. (Free from Verizon)
Despite having a bulky build even for a keyboard handset, the Relay 4G nevertheless gave solid performance. It made some of the best calls we've heard in the recent past, it runs Android 4.0 ICS, and its 5-megapixel camera is better than most in its class. Read the full review here. (No down payment from T-Mobile)
If you're looking for an inexpensive, approachable smartphone with a few more features, the Nokia Lumia 820's price tag is tough to beat. And in addition to serving up Windows Phone 8, it has 4G LTE speeds and a dual-core processor. Read the full review here. (1 cent from AT&T)
At the time of its launch, we dubbed the Optimus G the best LG phone on the market. And even though some time has passed, it's still easy to understand why. Aside from its 13-megapixel camera and blazingly fast quad-core CPU, it also has a gorgeous 4.7-inch True HD IPS+ display. Frankly, it's the best deal of the bunch. Read the full review here. (Free from Sprint)
Equipped with a fast 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, a superb five-row keyboard, Android 4.0, and a bright and colorful 4.3-inch screen, the Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE may be a mouthful to say, but it's a no-brainer as a purchase. Read the full review here. (Free from Sprint)