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Top 5 best-value smartphones (November 2012)

Once again, we’ve brought together some of the best value smartphones we’ve looked at over the past 30 days. Don't forget to check out our smartphone list for October 2012 too, which lists the Apple iPhone 4S, the Nokia Lumia 800, the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Orange San Diego and the Sony Xperia U.

Huawei Ascend G300, £99

If you’re on Vodafone, consider the Huawei Ascend G300 (£99 at Very), one of the more exciting entry level smartphones of recent times. More than any other phone, it shows how far technology has evolved over the past three years given that it has a better specification than either the HTC Desire or the original Samsung Galaxy S smartphone, but only costs a fraction of the price. There’s a 5-megapixel camera, a 4in 800 x 480 pixels display, a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM7225-A SoC and it runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Read our review of the Huawei Ascend G300 and discover some of the tweaks Huawei incorporated.

Google Nexus 4, £239

The Google Nexus 4 is likely to cause the same havoc in marketing plans as its tablet equivalent, the Google Nexus 7. This new smartphone uses the same winning formula as the latter; bleeding edge technology coupled with a rock bottom price. What you end up with is a cracking phone for not much money (£239 for the 8GB model). The specification list is almost identical to the much more expensive Samsung Galaxy S3 except bar some small but still significant differences like plain Jelly Bean by default and the lack of a microSD card slot. You still get a quad-core system-on-chip (the Qualcommm APQ8064 clocked at 1.5GHz), 2GB of RAM, a HD display, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a massive 2,100mAh battery.

Orange San Francisco II, £74

The equivalent of the Ascend G300 on the Orange network is the San Francisco II, otherwise known as the ZTE Crescent. The phone, which is available from Argos (via eBay) for £74 builds on the original Orange San Francisco and tweaks the hardware specification. It features a slightly enhanced system-on-chip, the Qualcomm MSM7227T which is clocked at 800MHz, with 512MB of RAM, a 3.5in 800 x 480 AMOLED display, Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread, a 5-megapixel camera, a microSD card slot, GPS and even a front facing camera. It is almost a match for the G300 and is easily unlocked as well.

ZTE Kis, £60

Virgin Media has the exclusive rights in the UK for the ZTE Kis smartphone, an entry level device which costs £60 and comes with £10 top-up as well as a whole year worth of free mobile data allowance (1GB per month) worth £60 by itself. It features the same Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM7225-A clocked at 800MHz, comes with 256MB of RAM and 512MB flash memory. Its 3.5in display has a 320 x 480 resolution and a 3.2-megapixel camera adorns its back. Other features include a microSD card reader, a 1,600mAh battery, GPS, Wi-Fi and Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Arguably, this is a cheap-and-nasty phone but the fact that it comes with one-year data allowance means that you could even use it as a Mi-Fi device.

Acer Liquid Galland Duo, £160

Acer’s new Android smartphone is the other SIM free model in this round up (the other being the Google Nexus 4). It is however the one that comes with a dual SIM setup and which is available for only £160 at Expansys. Even at this price though, you do get a decent entry-level smartphone with a 4.3in 960 x 540 display, the same as the Samsung Galaxy S2, a Mediatek MT6575 system-on-chip which is a single-core model and based on the Cortex-A9 rather than on the Cortex-A5 (as it is often the case on entry level handsets). Other features include 4GB onboard storage, 1GB of RAM, a 1,500mAh battery, a 5-megapixel camera (but no front facing one) plus Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (albeit one coated with Acer’s own proprietary UI).

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.