Gift Guide: Smartphones

For any friend or relative who is still limiting their potential with a dumbphone brick, a smartphone is the ideal gift choice (and it doesn't have to break the bank). Lifehacker rounds up a selection of models to suit every user preference.Picture by John Shearer/Getty Images


iPhone 3GS

Cost: $449 Where to get it: Apple Why it's a good choice: Yes, it's the oldest Apple phone on the block. But if you're shifting someone into the iPhone world, why spend twice the money? The 3GS is still an impressive and well-regarded piece of technology, and you can update it to iOS 5 to get the latest features.

BlackBerry Torch 9800/9810

Cost: Varies Where to get it: Shop around online, or on contract Why it's a good choice: For BlackBerry users, this is the ideal combination: the best-in-class keyboard for serious typing, and a full-size touchscreen for when you went to get your game on or browse casually. It's not the cheapest option, but it's worth the extra investment.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play

Cost: Varies Where to get it: Shop around online, or on contract Why it's a good choice: Amongst Android phones, the Xperia Play stands out for one simple feature: its PlayStation-styled gaming control buttons, which open up a range of gaming options that just don't work on a touch phone. For a gaming addict, it's a fine choice.



Cost: $129 Where to get it: Telstra Why it's a good choice: I spend a lot of time seeking out Android phones with usable keyboards, and so far this budget-priced model has come in at the top of my list. The one downside is the smaller screen size, but if you're currently addicted to texting, this is a good Android option to consider.

Huawei Ideos X1

Cost: $71.10 Where to get it: Optus Why it's a good choice: If you're less worried about the keyboard and just want the basic Android experience, Huawei produce solid, reliable phones. Being prepaid also minimises the risk of unexpected data shock.

HTC ChaCha

Cost: $99 Where to get it: Vodafone Why it's a good choice: At $99 (provided you purchase a $29 recharge), this is a definite Android bargain. The keyboard isn't quite as good as the Telstra rival, but the Facebook integration is well-implemented.


    iPhone 3G, really?!?! Its a 3 year old phone! And surely it cannot run iOS 5. You can get a HTC Mozart for $275

    How about considering WP7 for a change. Sure its a big departure and a learning curve for those used to a grid of endless icons but it'll make perfect sense for newcomers.

      Correction: it's the 3GS, and yes it can run iOS5.

    I'm amazed that neither the Samsung Google Nexus S or the HTC Incredible S got a mention.

    Both give the iPhone 3GS (as I'm sure Gus means, not the older 3G) a decent run for the money in hardware specs, and undercut it with a $269-299 price tag.

      Nexus S: only just about to go on sale. And I never found the Incredible S that remarkable.
      Also, 3GS error fixed :)

        Nexus S dude, not Galaxy Nexus :)
        Nexus S has been on sale since ~December 2010, and hardware wise it's very comparable with the 3GS. To draw another parallel between them, the 3GS can run iOS5 and the N-S is about to get Android 4.0 - so both phones will soon be on the latest software.

        I don't find the Incredible S anything special either, nor do I any of three phones mentioned - but it seems your recommendation for the 3GS was because it sits nicely "value for money" bracket. All three fit the bill in various ways, and can all be closely compared to one another; so I think these two Android handset warrant a mention as well.

    Got my WP7.5 phone (HTC Trophy) for $250 on eBay. New, ~$350. Much cheaper and newer than iP3GS, and IMHO perhaps even more n00b friendly.

    Not that the 3GS shouldn't be on the list, but at least BB Torch and Xperia Play are hardly viable competition to this device.

    Also, Blackberry? As a gift??

    How do you define "Best Choices"? Because it certainly doesn't fit my definition!!

    3GS is a legacy model that'll be worthless in a few years - a Galaxy Nexus will last a lot longer than a 3GS in terms of updates/support going forward.

    The Blackberry offers hardly any apps compared to iPhone and Android market. How is that a best choice? Smartphones are all about the apps - otherwise buy a dumb phone.

    I can't believe Galaxy S II isn't mentioned, I've seen it for $499 in sales and it is one of the top 3 smartphones on the market at the moment - compared to $449 for a 3GS which is two versions old and doesn't have Siri or a fast processor or retina display or the good camera. You can pay $50 extra and get the latest and greatest Android phone with an awesome camera, very fast processor and a bigger screen.

    iPhone 4S
    Samsung Galaxy Nexus
    Samsung Galaxy S II

    Should all be on the list of best choices.

    The other phones should be under quirky choices (Blackberry/XPeria) or budget (3GS).

    Surely if your're gonna spend 450 bux, you just pay a tad more and get a current generation tech galaxy s2, no? Bizarre logic from My PoV...and the BB torch?
    so many better 'unlocked' options out there these days.

    Sorry Angus but i think you missed the mark on this story.

      Some people don't want Android, so it wasn't going to be every phone in the list :) (And there are plenty of newer phones than the SII if you pursue that "current generation" argument).

        3GS isn't old, its ancient

    Yeah fair enough, as i think Andriod needs some improvements - No personal offence was intended Angus, but there are also wp7 phones that are very user friendly, but just seems it was a push for outdated hardware, that's all. Nothing wrong with Iphones, just the price points are ridiculous for old technology that is now dated for the price, and the SII is at the same price mark as the 3GS.

    Some people don't want Apple either. In my view it is for the rich and status conscience. It's Armani to Golden Breed. The exception to this being its a phone supplied by work.

    I was recently donated a Galaxy S (my first smart phone) and nothing could be simpler. I note unlocked it is retailing for about $429 so why it is not up there with the iPhone 3GS is beyond me.

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