Over the last few years, smartphones have certainly grown in importance and become an all too common household item. No longer are they solely a luxury, but a lifeline for many of us. Being so, they have also come to be a great gift for the holidays. Maybe its time to upgrade from your old smartphone to a new one, or maybe your loved one needs to trash that flip phone but lacks the proper motivation to buy a new phone with a little more ... smarts.
Whatever the reason, the holidays can be a great time to pick up a new smartphone, and there are plenty of deals floating around. There are also a slew of phones that are already priced reasonably. If you're not looking to order your phone online and sign a second contract to earn an additional discount, here are some great smartphones to be had for under $150:
Apple iPhone 4 - $99 (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon)
Last summer, Apple introduced the iPhone 4 to replace the iPhone 3GS. Just last month, they released the iPhone 4S to take the place of the 4 as their most current model. In doing so, the pricing of older models was dropped by $100. The 3GS is now available in an 8GB flavor for free with a two-year agreement and the iPhone 4 is now $99.99 with an agreement on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.
The iPhone 4 may not be the latest and greatest, but for $99 it's a great deal. The camera is still one of the most highly regarded mobile phone cameras and is still the most popular camera on Flickr. Just make sure you get a case, too. That glass is unforgiving.
EVO Design 4G - $99.99 (Sprint)
Building on the ever-popular EVO brand, Sprint and HTC have come together to offer a mid-range phone that is strongly reminiscent of the original EVO. The EVO Design 4G boasts some minor upgrades over its predecessor, like a 1.2GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 processor, 768MB RAM, 4GB ROM and a qHD display. This device is slightly smaller, with a 4-inch display, which might appease those with smaller hands ... or tighter jeans.
The EVO Design 4G ships with Sense UI 3.0 running atop Android 2.3.4. It also has a 5-megapixel camera with 720p video capture. For $99.99 with a two-year agreement, the EVO Design 4G is a great deal. And if you need a QWERTY keyboard, there is the EVO Shift 4G for the same price, but slightly lower specs.
HTC Radar 4G/Arrive/Trophy - $99.99 (T-Mobile/Sprint)
If you want a taste of Metro UI and the fresh Windows Phone 7.5, better known as Mango, T-Mobile has one of the newest Windows-powered HTC devices in its lineup. The HTC Radar was released at the beginning of this month. The hardware strongly resembles that of HTC's Flyer tablet with its white body and aluminum trim. The Radar comes with a 3.8-inch S-LCD (Gorilla Glass) display, 1GHz Scorpion processor, 5-megapixel camera capable of 720p video capture at 30fps and 8GB built-in storage.
Windows Phone is a nice and refreshing step back from the clutter of Android, but it isn't for everyone. If you're a fan of the tile and typographic interface, giving Windows Phone a go might be worth a shot. The HTC Radar is available on T-Mobile for $99.99 with a two-year agreement. If you aren't on T-Mobile and are still interested in Windows Phone, there is the similarly spec'd HTC Trophy on Verizon for $29.99 and HTC Arrive with a QWERTY keyboard for $99.99 on Sprint.
LG Thrill 4G/Motorola Atrix 2 $99.99 (AT&T)
Have a lust for a 3D phone but don't want to spend an arm and a leg for one? The LG Thrill 4G on AT&T just may be the ticket. The Thrill 4G comes with a 4.3-inch 3D LCD display, dual 5-megapixel cameras capable of stereoscopic 3D photos and videos (720p at 30fps, 1080p at 24fps in 2D) and a 1GHz TI OMAP processor.
4G (HSPA+) access and 3D image and video capture at $99.99 is a bargain. But if 3D isn't your thing or if you'd like a higher resolution display, you can also check out the strikingly similar Motorola Atrix 2. It sports a 4.3-inch qHD (960 by 540 pixels) display, 8-megapixel camera, 8GB built-in memory, 1GB RAM and a 1GHz TI OMAP processor. It's capable of shooting 1080p video at 24fps. The Atrix 2 is also available on AT&T's network for $99.99 with a two-year agreement.
Samsung Stratosphere - $149.99 (Verizon)
One thing we're seeing less and less of these days are large, roomy QWERTY keyboards. In fact, were seeing less of physical keyboards altogether. There are a few stragglers, however, and one of the latest is the Samsung Stratosphere on Verizon. Launched in October, the Stratosphere may not be the most powerful phone, but it serves as a great mid-range device. It sports a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, 512MB RAM, 1GHz Hummingbird processor, 4GB built-in memory and a 5-megapixel camera.
With a vibrant, Super AMOLED display and a roomy, slide-out QWERTY for those heavy texters out there, the Stratosphere is a decent phone for $149.99. If you're on Sprint and looking for a similar device, you can pick up the nearly identical Epic 4G for $99.99 with a two-year agreement.
HTC DROID Incredible 2 - $149.99 (Verizon)
Last but certainly not least, is the HTC DROID Incredible 2 on Verizon. Like many of these phones listed here and indicated by its name, the Incredible 2 is a second-generation device that brings some nice upgrades over its predecessor. The DROID Incredible 2 sports a 4-inch S-LCD (Gorilla Glass) display 768MB RAM, an 8-megapixel camera capable of 720p video at 30fps and a 1GHz Scorpion processor.
With a sleek design and HTC's Sense UI atop Android 2.3, the Incredible 2 a nice device for the price. If you don't need the blistering speed of Verizon's 4G LTE network and want to save a few bucks on your next phone, the DROID Incredible 2 might be the best Verizon has to offer for $149.99 with an agreement.