GIFT GUIDE: Budget/Pre-Paid Smartphones

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With smartphones rising in popularity – thanks to the iPhone and the wide-range of Android phones – there are also some who also don’t like the fact that they have to be tethered to a 24-month plan. In our first Holiday Gift Guide for the year, we’ve collated the best smartphones that are available on pre-paid plans from all three major carriers.

In order to make the list, we had to set in some conditions. All the phones had to be below $200 in order to be considered “budget”, and had to be on a pre-paid plan. In addition, we’ve divided our picks into three sections – the All-rounder (best budget phone overall), the beginner (suitable for a first-timer) and the Messenger (the phone that is really good for texting).

All-rounder: Samsung Galaxy Ace

The phone may look like the Galaxy S, but its hardware specs have been watered down. The phone features a 800MHz processor, 3.5-inch LCD display, a 5-megapixel camera and runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The phone is great for those who want a phone that is not expensive, but has a stylish body, and great performance and battery life.

Telstra: $199
Optus: $179.10

The Beginner: HTC Wildfire S

The Wildfire S is an updated version of the Wildfire and is more suited as a person’s first smartphone. The phone runs Gingerbread; and features a 600MHz processor and a 5-megapixel camera. It also has a 3.2-inch display. While it does have some limitations, it is a perfect phone for those who are new to the world of Android, and smartphones.

Telstra: $199

The Messenger: BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300

The Curve 9300 is a good phone for the constant texter. Like all BlackBerry phones, it has a QWERTY keyboard and a slim design. The performance is pretty good, and has access to social networking applications Twitter and Facebook (you’ll have to download them from the app store – but they are free). Downside: camera is only 2-megapixels and has no flash. But if you want to send messages quickly without using the crappy T9 or via a touchscreen, then this phone is for you.

Optus: $179.10

Think we missed a phone, or have your own suggestions? Add them to the comments below – we love to hear it. Also, stay tuned for our picks for the best smartphones and tablets.