Although you can't deny the popularity of flagship handsets, manufacturers aren't shying away from offering devices that are just one notch down from their highest tiered smartphones.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, for instance, recently landed on Verizon and Sprint (with plans to reach AT&T and U.S. Cellular customers soon). It costs $99.99 on contract, though with temporary rebates and deals, Sprint is offering it for free to new customers only. The device features many of the things users love about the Galaxy S4, but in a smaller, slightly less powerful package.
Likewise, Motorola released a mid-range version of its Droid Maxx, known as the Droid Mini, and HTC retained the One's stylish construction for its Mini variant as well, but lowered its price, along with a few key specs. Lastly, back in September, Apple unveiled the iPhone 5C, which was the company's first foray into providing a cheaper alternative to its flagship iPhone that's also current at the same time.
All these handsets cost about $100 with a carrier agreement, so to see how they compare with one another, check out our chart below. Then you tell us -- when it comes to dominating the beta phone realm, what do you prefer?
Editors' note: This piece was originally published on September 11, 2013 and included the Nokia Lumia 520. The device has since been replaced with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.
|Dimensions ||4.91 x 2.41 x 0.35 inches; 3.77 oz. ||4.81 x 2.41 x 0.34 inches; 4.59 oz. ||5.2 x 2.5 x 0.36 inches; 4.52 oz. ||4.9 x 2.33 x 0.35 inches; 4.65 oz.|
|Display ||4.3-inch QHD sAMOLED; 540x960 pixels ||4.3-inch HD; 1,280x720 pixels ||4.3-inch HD; 720p; 340ppi ||4-inch Retina Display; 1,136x640 pixels; 326 ppi|
|Operating system ||Android 4.2.2 ||Android 4.2 ||Android 4.2.2 ||iOS 7|
|4G LTE ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes|
|Wi-Fi ||802.11 a/b/g/n ||802.11 a/b/g/n ||802.11 a/b/g/n ||802.11 a/b/g/n |
|NFC ||Yes ||Yes ||No ||No|
|Bluetooth ||v4.0 ||v4.0 ||v4.0 ||v4.0|
|Rear camera and recording ||8-megapixel; 1080p HD video ||10-megapixel; 1080p HD video ||4-UltraPixel; 1080p HD video ||8-megapixel; 1080p HD video|
|Front-facing camera ||1.9-megapixel; 720p HD video ||2-megapixel ||1.6-megapixel; 720p HD video ||1.2-megapixel; 720p video|
|Processor ||1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 ||1.7GHz dual-core Motorola X8 system ||1.4GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 ||Proprietary A6 (32-bit)|
|Capacity ||16GB ||16GB ||16GB ||16GB and 32GB|
|Expandable memory ||Up to 64GB ||No ||No ||No|
|Battery life ||1,900mAh removable: 12 hours talk time; 12.5 days standby time ||2,000mAh embedded: 28 hours usage time, 14 days standby time ||1,800mAh embedded: 21 hours talk time; 21 days standby time ||Embedded: 10 hours talk time; 10 days standby time|
|Carriers ||Verizon and Sprint; AT&T and U.S. Cellular coming soon ||Verizon ||AT&T ||AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and global|
|Pricing ||$99.99; $399.99 off contract ||$99.99; $449.99 off contract ||$99.99; $429.99 off contract ||$99 for 16GB; $199 for 32GB; $549 for 16GB off contract|
|Available colors ||Black and white ||Black ||Silver and black ||Blue, green, pink, yellow, white|
Credit: Lynn La/CNET