Mobile Choice Awards 2011 - Best Value Phone

Strapped for cash or simply don't fancy a high-cost, high-commitment contract? Luckily fast-moving tech means you can still get all the fancy features of a high-end handset at a fraction of the cost. Take a peek at the top money-saving smartphones and bring cheer to future bank statements.


Winner - Orange San Francisco
There was no doubt as to which handset was going to win this award - for less than £100 it bought you a Android 2.1 (upgradable to 2.2) handset with a 3.5-inch capacitive screen, GPS, push email and Wi-Fi. A few other handsets have managed this since, but the San Francisco did it first. It gave people who were new to smartphones the chance to dive into the oceanic Android marketplace and try out the hundreds of thousands of apps - and as a cherry on the cake, it also has a surprisingly high-end build quality with a classy matt rubber chassis. The only minor flaw with it was the amount of bloatware and Orange-branded apps which just cluttered up the phone and over-complicated things - but they're easily removed with a bit of patience. A near-perfect budget option, and one for those who want quality without having to take out a mortgage.



Runner up - Samsung Galaxy Ace
It looks a lot like an iPhone, but costs a hell of a lot less. That said, it costs a fair bit more than the winner and offers only slightly more features, so it doesn't pack quite as much value for money. It has a nippy 800MHz processor, a decent five-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash, and comes with Android 2.2. If you're after a budget phone, but feel like splashing out just a bit more to get iPhone-ish looks, it's a worthy consideration.

HTC Wildfire S
A compact, friendly device that crams in Wi-Fi, HSDPA, A-GPS and a five-megapixel LED-flash camera, all for around £150. It also comes with Android 2.3 out of the box, and has a nice Teflon rear. Its predecessor - the HTC Wildfire - won last year, but the field's become more competitive since. Still great value for money though - and we rated its social networking dazzle too.

LG Optimus One
Released last December, LG's One was one of the very first smartphones that didn't cost the earth. For £130 of your hard-earned spoils, you got HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Android 2.2 and all the usual lovely things like email, web and a 2GB microSD card (upgradeable to 32GB). Its 3.2-inch touch-screen did the job, but at 320x480 pixels, its screen made for a fairly blocky affair when viewing videos.

BlackBerry Curve 3G
One of those BlackBerrys that wasn't aimed at affluent City boys and girls, and more at the cash-conscious who liked to type while on the move. The follow up to the Curve 8520 had (as the name hints at) 3G, plus Wi-Fi, A-GPS and a QWERTY keypad more akin to what you'd find on more pricier handsets. But a weak camera, low-res screen and laggy video kept it short of winning this year's gong.

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