While the stalwarts of the smartphone industry tend to get all the press, you don’t have to pick between an Apple iPhone 4S or a Samsung Galaxy S3 when you next want to upgrade your handset.
Here are just some of the alternative manufacturers and their worthiest smartphone handsets which will offer you largely similar functions to those devices which are several times more expensive.
This Chinese firm has been making a name for itself thanks to budget smartphone devices which do not skimp on capabilities.
The Ascend range is a particularly good example of what it does best as it features handsets that are packed with decent components and yet priced to fly off the shelves.
The G300, which has a four inch touchscreen display, 1GHz processor and five megapixel camera, is perhaps its most balanced offering and gives you big screen thrills at a pay as you go price point – just £100 on pay as you go.
While better known for its home entertainment kit, Panasonic also offers its own smartphone to customers in the UK.
The Panasonic Eluga is one of its more recent releases and it has the unusual distinction of being slim and stylish while also having quite a hard wearing, durable construction which is waterproof.
With a 4.3 inch display and eight megapixel camera it is no slouch in the hardware department, so you can enjoy classy smartphone features with Android onboard while picking a brand which is not that common. The Panasonic Eluga will set you back around £300 SIM-Free, or
Toshiba tends to target its smartphones at the business end of the market, with devices like the TG01 and TG02 offering an experience which is based around the older Windows Mobile operating system.
However, newer models like the IS12T have made the leap to the more consumer-friendly Windows Phone 7 operating system, which offers excellent social networking integration and slick word processing capabilities thanks to Microsoft Office compatibility.
This particular model has a generous 32GB of storage space, a 13.2 megapixel camera and a 1GHz processor to give it plenty of bite in terms of performance. This model is currently not out in the UK, but we’re hoping it will make its way here very soon.
Mobile network provider Orange has a number of branded smartphone devices which are produced by manufacturing partners in order to appeal to users on a budget.
The Orange San Francisco and its sequel have been particularly well received, with each offering a large touchscreen display and a mostly unmitigated Android experience, with just a few visual tweaks to the interface keeping everything in line with Orange’s style.
The more recently released Orange San Diego has been earning attention thanks to its use of an Intel Atom processor, clocked at 1.6GHz. This gives it more power than its predecessors and means that it can do things like record Full HD 1080p video clips and offer superior smoothness during multitasking.
Orange has this beauty priced at around £200 SIM-Free, and from £11 per month on contract.
Vodafone echoes Orange when it comes to own-brand smartphones, with the Vodafone Smart 2 representing its most recent foray into the hardware market.
This device features Android 2.3.5, a 3.2 inch touchscreen display and an 823MHz processor to keep everything running smoothly. In terms of price it is part of some of the best mobile phone deals on the market, although it does lack some high end features that make rivals stand out. This one is just £70 on pay as you go.
So those are our suggestions if you’re looking for a great smartphone but you don’t want to shell out the big bucks. Network-branded phones are a great alternative, and are generally made by a reputable brand such as ZTE or Huawei.
This article is written by Hayley Lloyd who works for Mobiles.co.uk, part of the Carphone Warehouse Group. Mobiles.co.uk was the UK`s first retail mobile phone website (launched in 1995) and is now the largest web-only mobile phone store in the UK.