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Nine best bargain phones of 2010 (photos)

This year has been amazing for high-value cell phones and smartphones that deliver a lot of bang for relatively small bucks. We survey our top choices for the year.

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Jessica Dolcourt
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1 of 9 CNET

LG Lotus Elite

This year opened with one of our favorite teen texting phones. In January, a $99 price tag seemed fairly reasonable for the fashion-forward LG Lotus Elite's hot bod and crystal clear calling.
2 of 9 CNET

Palm Pre Plus (Verizon)

Verizon began 2010 right by offering Palm's best WebOS device to date. With double the storage capacity and double the RAM of the Palm Pre, the Palm Pre Plus, still cost only $49.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate and with a two-year contract.
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3 of 9 Josh Miller/CNET

LG Cosmos

We've seen some great deals in the second half of 2010, but back in April, LG gave budget-conscious texters a break with the Cosmos, a tactile slider phone for Verizon with great call quality.
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4 of 9 CNET

Pantech Link

We don't throw around the words "absolute steal" lightly, but what can we say, the April debut of the Pantech Link impressed us. AT&T's 3G candy-bar texter may not bowl you over with its entry-level features or mediocre call quality, but the price--just $9.99 on contract--is certainly sweet.
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5 of 9 Josh Miller/CNET

ZTE Salute

Simple it is, but the ZTE Salute is more than meets the eye, thanks to some of Verizon's preloaded apps and services. This vertical slider also has some stylish touches, but even if it didn't, the freebie would still make our list.
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6 of 9 Samsung

Samsung Evergreen

For $30 with a two-year contract, the Samsung Evergreen delivers midrange messaging features in an environmentally gentle package.
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7 of 9 Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung SPH-M360

The Samsung SPH-M360 for Sprint isn't fancy by any means, but it fulfills its promised features well and won't cost new subscribers a cent.
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8 of 9 Josh P. Miller/CNET

LG Optimus T

The LG Optimus T is a $30 Android phone for T-Mobile (after a mail-in rebate and with a new, two-year service agreement.) Sure, it's entry level, but with Android 2.2, it still has Wi-Fi, 3G, turn-by-turn voice navigation, and can serve as a mobile hot spot. The carrier even offered the black version for free for a limited time, which is unheard of with a smartphone.
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9 of 9 T-Mobile

T-Mobile Comet

T-Mobile achieved a new low when it announced the Huawei-made T-Mobile Comet, and we mean that in the good way. You can pick up the Android 2.2 smartphone on contract in exchange for that crumpled $10 bill.

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