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Holiday Gift Guide: Budget Smartphones

News by admin on Tuesday November 25, 2014.

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The Holiday Season is firmly upon us with Black Friday kicking things off this week, and then we have the run to Christmas. Whether you are buying for someone else or just filling you own stocking, a new smartphone may well be at the top of your shopping list this year. However, it goes without saying that not everyone can afford to splash on the latest iPhone or Galaxy Note device.

Luckily the budget market is vibrant these days and if bang for your buck is your particular thing then there are plenty of interesting handsets available at the right price. We have been scouring the smartphone world to find the best devices available that cost $250 this Holiday Season. Of course, there are some omissions and you may not agree with all of our choices, but for us there are the best sub $250 smartphone you can get right now.

We are not focusing on entry level device in this list.

Motorola Moto G (2014) $179.99

There really is no other place to start than with Motorola's all-conquering game changer. The 2013 Moto G reshaped the smartphone market, it was the first bona fide budget device to offer specs that would challenge smartphones worth hundreds more. It kick-started a vibrant low end market that now offers more choice and while the new 2014 is only an incremental update the Moto G remains the most potent budget smartphone. It now has a smoother and rounded design, a new bigger 5-inch Full HD 1080p screen, and an 8 megapixel camera. Even if not on a budget the Moto G is worth a look, but if your cash is limited this should be your first port of call.

HTC Desire 816 $179.99

Costing the same as the Moto G, the HTC Desire 816 offers a stylish alternative to Motorola's functional all-rounder. As you would expect with HTC, the build quality is top notch and the design has the sort of attention to detail reserved for some flagships. Indeed, the overlook apes the flagship One M8, although the front facing speakers are not BoomSound and the body is plastic instead of metal. In terms of specs, the Desire 816 gets a 720p 5.5-inch screen, a 1.6GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, a 13 megapixel rear camera, 1.5GB RAM, 8GB storage, and micro SD support. This is a lot of phone for a sub $200 price.

Moto X (2013) $224.99

Make no mistake, the Moto X may have been updated recently, but the 2013 model remains a stellar handset and a near flagship quality one in terms or performance and just about every other factor. There's a lot going on here for the money, such as a powerful processor, 10 megapixel camera, 4.7-inch Full HD screen, and stunning software. Yes, you will have an aging device, but if you can pick up one with a wooden rear plate you will also have a very good smartphone.

Asus ZenFone 5 ($179.99)

We considered the gargantuan ZenFone 6, but the 5-inch version of the range is a more compelling option and is one of a growing number of devices we could label as being bargains. The specs are surprisingly solid, such as a 2GHz Intel Atom chipset with 2GB of RAM, a 5-inch 720p screen, and 16GB of on board storage (expandable). The ZenFone 5 is also very good looking, although it is worth noting that the range is due to be updated in January so perhaps you would be best served.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua ($249.99)

Sony's M2 Aqua is very much the same handset as the normal M2, but that Aqua in the name gives the game away as this is actually a full waterproof smartphone. Sony knows a thing or two about waterproofing a device, so you know you can give the M2 Aqua a good dunk in the wet stuff and have it coming up as good as new. The spec sheet is very much the same as other smartphone in this list, but like the Moto X, the Sony handset comes with LTE connectivity.

Xiaomi Redmi Note ($209.99)

A list of affordable device with a hint of quality would not be complete these days without Xiaomi making an appearance, such is the Chinese company's rise in the last few years. The Redmi Note is arguably the best spec'd device here, featuring an octa-core MediaTek processor with 2GB of RAM, a 720p HD 5.5-inch screen, and much more. There are some things to consider here. For example the Xiaomi effort is hardly original and is pretty bland, but worse than that it is running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.

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