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Top 5 value smartphones in the UK (October 2012) from £130

The end of the year has brought a number of new handsets - notably the Apple iPhone 5 - which in turn caused manufacturers to drop the prices of existing smartphones to clear out stocks.

Here are the 5 best value for money smartphones to consider should you be looking to buy one in October 2012. Only one is SIM free and the rest are tied to a mobile phone operator; prices are correct and stocks are available at the time of publication. We suggest that you regularly visit our deals section where other smartphone deals will be listed.

Apple iPhone 4S, £394 + £5 top-up

£399 gets you the iPhone 4S PAYG on T-Mobile (via eBay). You get a £5 credit with unlimited internet (capped at 250MB with no-limit web browsing and email) for 12-months. That’s £55 less than the new suggested retail price of the SIM Free iPhone 4S. It remains a pretty capable handset even after the launch of the Apple iPhone 5 especially if you don’t need 4G. Check out the spec comparison between the two Apple handsets.

Nokia Lumia 800, £150

O2 customers wishing to explore Windows Phone 7.5 may wish to check the Nokia Lumia 800 smartphone which costs £150 on PAYG. The phone, which will be upgradable to Windows Phone 7.8 in the near future, is not the cheapest Windows Phone handset on the market (there are a few models like the ZTE Tania, the Nokia Lumia 710 or the HTC Radar available for around £100), but it is the one sporting by far the best value for money ratio. Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to grab an Android phone with a similar spec for such a low price. We recently published a detailed comparison between the Nokia Lumia 800, the Lumia 820 and the Lumia 900.

Samsung Galaxy S3, £375

The Samsung Galaxy S3 may no longer be Samsung’s top of the range smartphone with the launch of the Galaxy Note 2 but some will probably prefer its more compact form factor (although that’s a relative term). eBay powerseller, ecell_accessorize, is selling the smartphone (unbranded and unlocked) for only £375 including free delivery; in comparison, Amazon sells it for nearly £480. Find out more about the Galaxy S3 in our review and see why its tagline, “designed for humans, inspired by nature” is backed up by a few well implemented features.

Orange San Diego, £170 + £15 top up

Mobile operator Orange offers the San Diego, the first Intel-based smartphone to land in the country, for £170 on PAYG with an extra compulsory £15 top up (on one of their five available animal plans). Arguably, the deal will appeal most to Orange customers and the fact that the phone itself cannot be unlocked means that you will be tied to Orange (and Everything Everywhere) once you take the plunge. Still, if you want to explore the phone in detail and understand why it in many ways sets a landmark, read our extensive review of the Orange San Diego.

Sony Xperia U, £130 + £10 top up

Sony is rarely known for delivering outstanding entry level smartphones but the Xperia U smartphone (available for £140 at Phones4U with a £10 top up and with free 12 months Wi-Fi courtesy of The Cloud with 500MB monthly allowance) seems to mark a definitive change in the company’s market strategy. The phone, which is available on all major networks except Three and Virgin Media, is the cheapest dual-core handset on the market and boosts a display density higher than Samsung’s new superphone, the Galaxy Note 2. Those looking for a compact smartphone with a style may want to read our review of the Sony Xperia U.

Desire worked at ITProPortal right at the beginning and was instrumental in turning it into the leading publication we all know and love today. He then moved on to be the Editor of TechRadarPro - a position he still holds - and has recently been reunited with ITProPortal since Future Publishing's acquisition of Net Communities.