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Top 5 best-value smartphones (April 2013): Samsung Galaxy S4, ZTE Blade, Sony Xperia U, Nokia Lumia 520 and T-Mobile Beat

ZTE Blade

This smartphone was once the darling of budding Android modders in the UK. Sold under the Orange banner as the Orange San Francisco, it rapidly became a very popular handset, propelling ZTE into the limelight and sold more than two million units. Subsequent ZTE Blade series helped the brand flog a massive eight million units, certainly one of the most enduring brands outside the Samsung Galaxy one. You can still buy the original ZTE Blade (unlocked) from eBay for a mere £55 and the overwhelming number of bargain deals on the market, this one come with a 800 x 480 pixel display and doesn’t need a top up.

Sony Xperia U

Sony’s former entry level smartphone is possibly the one that has been listed the most in our tech deals. This smartphone was unveiled last year at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and was part of the first batch of the handsets from the post Sony-Ericsson era. Asda sells it for £99, making it by far the cheapest branded dual-core Android smartphone on the market, one that comes with some cracking features. It is locked to O2 but you should be able to unlock it fairly easily. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is available for this phone but as Sony puts it “your phone’s performance may be affected”. Below are the ZTE Blade and the Xperia U respectively

Nokia Lumia 520

Our new BFF smartphone is the Lumia 520, which takes over the Xperia U., a subsidiary of Carphone Warehouse, sells it for as little as £109.95 (including a £10 top up) either on Vodafone, O2, Orange or Virgin Media. Avaialble in white or blue, the phone is most likely to be unlocked despite being sold as a PAYG model and comes with free next day delivery. Compared to the Xperia U smartpphone, it has a microSD card slot, a bigger display and onboard storage capacity and a few exclusive freebies like Nokia Maps, Nokia Mix Music, Nokia Radio and Nokia Drive. Note that you can also get the phone on contracts for as little as £7 a month.

T-Mobile Beat

Smartphones. They tend to be expensive, with a big display and a bit useless if what you do is text all day. Check out the T-Mobile Beat which is a £5 phone. Yep, a fiver (or a Winston if Churchill gets the £5 bill). You need to top up £20 though in order to get that deal. Spread over two months, you will get 1GB of data, 100 minutes and 400 texts. As for the phone itself, it has a rather big resistive display, a 3.2-megapixel rear camera, a full QWERTY keyboard, Wi-Fi, built in Facebook and Twitter apps as well as an FM radio. Other than the expected lack of high end features (remember, that’s a £5 phone), we can only sigh at the battery life (4.5 hours talktime).

Samsung Galaxy S4

And we shall end with the ubiquitous Galaxy S4 deal. Affordablemobiles sells Samsung’s top of the range smartphone for as little as £26 with an upfront fee of £100. That’s just over £30 per month on a two year contract. You get 500 minutes as well as unlimited texts and data. No Tethering though but you do get Wi-Fi on the London Underground. Check out our ongoing coverage of the Samsung Galaxy S4, from the very beginning until the launch (and beyond), including the latest price plans, rumours, the rehashed reports, the disappointments and the expectations. You can also read our review of the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone.

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.