There was a time when budget phones felt decidedly ‘budget’.
Unless you wanted to spend upwards of £20 a month on contract, you either had to settle for a second-rate phone or hand over a king’s ransom in advance for an upgrade.
This was a particularly vexing situation for those who only needed a few hundred inclusive minutes and calls a month.
Well, thankfully those dark times are now a thing of the past. I can prove it too.
I set myself the arduous task of finding handsets that are not only free on 18-month contracts, but also cost less than £10 a month.
I then had to cheat a little, increasing my monthly budget by 50p, but I did come up with two quality phones that fit the criteria.
Budget phone 1 – Samsung Galaxy Ace
Samsung’s army of Android-powered Galaxy phones and tablets are officially taking over the world. Whatever your budget, whatever your need, there’s a Galaxy for it.
This particular model is essentially a shrunk down version of Samsung’s flagship handset, the Galaxy S.
But with a slick design, a 5 megapixel camera, an awesome battery life and all the fun and games you get with Google’s fantastic Android operating system (version 2.2 Froyo) the Galaxy Ace feels anything but cheap.
Currently, 02 will give you a Galaxy Ace for free when you sign up for a 24-month contract at just £10.50 per month. For that you get 250 texts, 50 minutes and a rather snazzy phone. Perfect for light use.
Budget phone 2 – HTC Wildfire S
Much like Samsung, HTC have been churning out Android devices like there’s no tomorrow.
Another smart, sturdy design (available in various colours) rocking Android 2.1 and HTC’s acclaimed ‘Sense’ software, the Wildfire S has much to offer.
You can also get this handset for nothing with 02 on a 24-month contract with 250 texts and 50 minutes for just £10.50 a month. Not too shabby at all.
There’s very little to choose between the two phones because they have an awful lot in common.
The Galaxy Ace is running a more up-to-date version of Android and arguably has the better camera and battery life. You can also boast a larger, more vivid display on the Ace.
However, the Wildfire S feels better in the hand and that superior build-quality could be vital on a two-year contract. It’s also lighter than the Ace, which is some achievement given it’s sturdier exterior.
It’s a matter of personal preference really, but I’d plump for the Galaxy Ace myself.
The slightly more impressive specsheet just about compensates for the inferior, plasticy design, which isn’t really that bad anyway.
Still, both of these devices are more than adequate, particularly if you’re a light user and for just over a tenner a month, you’re a winner either way.