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Top 5 best-value smartphones (March 2013): Sony Xperia T, Galaxy S4, Huawei Ascend P1 LTE & W1 and Acer CloudMobile S500

£264 Sony Xperia T

If you don’t mind buying a refurbished handset, you can get the Sony Xperia T smartphone for as little as £11 per month, that’s a total cost of ownership of £264, well below what you’d pay for that handset on SIM Free. You get a crappy plan but also the ability to pay for that mainstream smartphone over two year combined with a plan that will suit very light users. The Xperia T was launched at IFA in Germany last year and went on sale in October 2012 for £400. You can read our review of that smartphone here.

£252 Huawei Ascend P1 LTE

This is possibly the cheapest LTE smartphone in the country and it comes with a few freebies. Check out the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE from T-Mobile which costs £10.50 per month on a two year contract. Not only do you get to pay for it over a period of two years (interest free of course), you also get a contract (50 minutes, 250 texts, 250MB data plus free Wi-Fi on the London Underground). Note that the phone is locked to T-Mobile but you will be able to use it on Orange, EE and Virgin Mobile. Check out our review of the non LTE version of the Huawei Ascend P1.

Below is the Sony Xperia T.

£530 Samsung Galaxy S4

It is possibly the most expensive mainstream Android smartphone on the market at the moment but one that justifies its price because of the wealth of features that it offers. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the one we’re referring to, and costs a whopping £530 unlocked, just as expensive as the Apple iPhone 5. It does however offer a number of features such as an 8-core SoC, a full HD display and a slew of features such as S Voice, Air View, S Translator, Eye-tracking smart scrolling etc. You can read our hands-on the Galaxy S4 here.

£200 Acer CloudMobile S500

This is the second time we’re listing Acer in our monthly top smartphone article and this one is pretty impressive. It is essentially the equivalent of the Sony Xperia T minus the 13-megapixel camera but it also costs much less at only £200. Expansys sells it with a case that apparently costs a whopping £43 and Acer ships it complete with a cloud service called AcerCloud. Read more about the Acer CloudMobile S500 in our review of the handset here. Bear in mind though that the ratings and comments were made when the handset was worth much more than £200.

£130 Huawei Ascend W1

The second Huawei handset of the lot and possibly the one which is the most impressive. The Ascend W1 is the cheapest Windows Phone 8 on the market but is currently only available at O2 (although you can still use it on GiffGaff and Tesco Mobile). This handset – which has been announced earlier this year at MWC – packs some impressive technology not seen at launch on Android smartphones in a similar price bracket. Note that both Nokia (with its Lumia 620) and HTC (with the Windows Phone 8S) are holding regular promotions to flog their mainstream Windows Phone 8 handsets.

Check out what our top 5 best-value smartphones in

October 2012 (Apple iPhone 4S, Nokia Lumia 800, Samsung Galaxy S3, Orange San Diego, Sony Xperia U)

November 2012 (Huawei Ascend G300, Google Nexus 4, Orange San Francisco II, ZTE Kis, Acer Liquid Galland Duo)

December 2012 (HTC Windows Phone 8S, Samsung Galaxy Y, Sony Xperia U, Motoroal Motosmart Black, Orange San Diego)

January 2013 (Google Nexus 4, Alcatel One Touch OT-983, Galaxy Ace 2, Nokia Lumia 620, ZTE Grand X)

We had a hiatus on February 2013 because of Mobile World Congress.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.