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Smart savings with smartphones

We know holiday shopping isn't easy on the wallet. But whether you're buying a smartphone for a loved one or for yourself, nabbing a good deal isn't impossible. We round up some of the best handsets we've seen so far that feature a competitive price tag. Some are free with contract, others don't exceed more than $250 prepaid. All are great devices.

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Motorola Droid Razr M (Verizon)

Sporting a stylish yet compact design, a bright 4.3-inch screen, and a long-lasting 2,000mAh battery, the Droid Razr M is an excellent 4G LTE device. (99 cents with carrier contract)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

LG Optimus G (Sprint, AT&T)

When the Optimus G first appeared on Sprint, we dubbed it the best LG handset to date. Featuring a 13-megapixel camera, and an ultra-fast quad-core processor, the Optimus G is still an excellent device, and it's even better with a lower price. (Free with Sprint contract; $49.99 with AT&T contract)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

Nokia Lumia 521 (T-Mobile)

Though it doesn't have 4G LTE, the Lumia 521 has a great camera and includes plenty of Windows Phone 8 software features. It's also one of the most inexpensive prepaid phones you can get. ($144 off-contract)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

BlackBerry Z10 (AT&T, Verizon)

Yes, the future of BlackBerry may be unclear, but one thing's for certain: its Z10 handset is a fine piece of gadgetry. BB diehards will enjoy its luxurious design, refreshing user interface, and great 8-megapixel shooter. ($0.99 with AT&T contract; free with Verizon contract)

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Kyocera Hydro Elite (Verizon)

Kyocera's no stranger to waterproof phones, but now with Verizon's 4G LTE, it gets even faster. In addition to being pool-friendly, the Hydro Elite also has wireless charging, a 4.3-inch screen, and an 8-megapixel camera. (Free with carrier contract)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

HTC 8XT (Sprint)

As the carrier's first Windows Phone handset, the 8XT is an excellent place to start. Fitted with a unique cobalt blue look, superb speakers bolstered with Beats Audio, and a long-lasting 1,800mAh battery, Sprint customers can rejoice with this solid WP8 phone. (Free with carrier contract)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

LG Mach (Boost Mobile, Sprint)

Although available for free with a two-year agreement, it's the Mach's prepaid price that's got our savings senses tingling. Not to mention, this QWERTY keyboard-toting device has 4G LTE and a decent 5-megapixel shooter. ($179.99 with Boost Mobile off-contract; free with Sprint contract)

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET

Pantech Discover (AT&T)

Perhaps most impressive about the Discover is its ultra-clear dual speakers located on the edges of the phone. But it's also extremely comfortable to hold, takes clear photos with its 12.6-megapixel camera, and has 4G LTE. ($49.99 with carrier contract)

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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini (AT&T)

Ideal for novice smartphone users, the Galaxy S3 Mini packs much of what users like about Samsung's last flagship in a more compact design. (99 cents with carrier contract)

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LG Optimus F3 (Virgin, T-Mobile)

Available across several carriers, the Optimus F3 is a value no matter how you slice it. Users can get it free from Sprint with a carrier agreement, or for about $150 under the network's prepaid arm, Virgin. T-Mobile also sells it off-contract for $240. As for the phone itself, it's equipped with a solid 2,460mAh battery, Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, and 4G LTE. (Free with Sprint contract; $149.99 with Virgin Mobile off-contract; $240 with T-Mobile off-contract)

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