Top 5 $1 smartphones

If you're shopping for a new phone and don't absolutely need the latest and greatest, here are five great smartphones that can be had for just $1 on contract.

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I have to say that I'm a little disappointed in the pace of smartphone innovation recently. I have a hard time believing that the recent push toward bigger HD screens and quad-core processors really adds up to a dramatically better experience for most people. Maybe it's just a momentary lull in the industry, or maybe the smartphone is now a fully matured technology that's starting to plateau.

Either way, we're at a moment now where the distinction between last year's phones and this year's is pretty tough to notice. If you're shopping for a smartphone right now, it also means that there are some great "old" phones to be had for practically nothing, so long as you're willing to sign over two years of your life.

To prove the point, with guidance from CNET Associate Editor Lynn La, I've got a list of the best five smartphones that can be had for a dollar or less on contract. Each major carrier is represented somewhere on this list. If you want more selection, check out Lynn's full gallery of nine smartphones.