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The Best Budget-Friendly Cell Phones

These cheap cell phones prove you don't have to spend a lot to get a lot.

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Picking a cell phone can be a daunting task, especially if you're trying to save money. After all, today's phones come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and offer a wide range of features...and prices. But don't worry: you don't have to spend a lot to get a lot.

If you're looking for an affordable cell phone that's capable of making calls and more -- maybe even browsing the Web, snapping photos, and sending e-mail and text messages, you've come to the right place. This list comprises some of today's best cell phones, and all of them are budget-friendly. Every phone on this list is available for less than $40 -- and in some cases, much less. You'll even find many of these phones available for free.

Note: You won't find any full-fledged smartphones on this list; if you're interested in a smartphone, check out my lists of today's best smartphones and today's best budget-friendly smartphones.

1. Pantech Pursuit

Pantech Pursuit
Pantech

The Pantech Pursuit combines fun and practicality in one compact package. Available in either green or blue, this slider-style phone features an eye-catching design, and combines it with useful features, including a 2.8-inch touch screen and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The Pursuit also features a shake control, which allows you to access certain functions by shaking the handset. It's available from AT&T.

 

2. Samsung Gravity 3

Samsung Gravity 3
T-Mobile

Samsung's Gravity phone has been updated to version 3, but that doesn't mean you have to pay a steep price to get this phone. Now available from T-Mobile, the Gravity 3 features a slide-out keyboard that makes composing even lengthy messages a breeze. It includes support for text, picture, and video messaging, and also offers access to your favorite social networks for staying in touch.

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3. LG Accolade VX5600

LG Accolade VX5600
LG

The LG Accolade VX5600 is a flip phone that doesn't offer a lot of extras, but handles your basic calling needs with ease. The Accolade features both internal and external displays, and includes support for Bluetooth, so you can use the Accolade with a hands-free headset. It also comes with direct access to Microsoft's Bing search engine, and supports Verizon's VZ Navigator for turn-by-turn directions.

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4. LG enV3

enV3
Verizon Wireless

LG's enV line of texting phones have always been popular, and the enV3 is no exception. Like its predecessors, the enV3 features a compact, folding design: from the outside, it looks like your average cell phone. It's small and comfortable to hold during calls. But turn it sideways and flip it open, and you have a 3-inch display and a full QWERTY keyboard -- everything you need in a full-blown messaging machine. It's available from Verizon Wireless.

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5. Pantech Breeze II

Pantech Breeze II
AT&T

The Pantech Breeze II is called an entry-level phone. And it's priced like an entry-level phone. But this flip phone packs in some decidedly advanced features, including 3G support, voice-guided GPS, and AT&T's Video Share capability. You also get a basic Web browser and plenty of messaging options, including mobile e-mail support.

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6. LG dLite

LG dLite
T-Mobile

With its bright design (it's available in pink or pastel blue), the LG dLite isn't a phone for everyone. But if you're in touch with your feminine side, the dLite will appeal to you. It sports a handy folding form factor, a slim design, and bright, blinking lights on its exterior, thanks to a hidden LED martic display. The LG dLite is available from T-Mobile.

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7. Sony Ericsson Equinox

Sony Ericsson Equinox
Sony Ericsson

Just because a phone is affordable, that doesn't mean it has to be boring and bland. Case in point: the Sony Ericsson Equinox, one of the sleekest-looking flip phones available today. It also packs in plenty of features, including a 3.2-megapixel camera, GPS support, and gesture control, which lets you control your phone without actually touching it. Other multimedia features include a music player, FM radio, and Sony Ericsson's Media Go software for transferring music, photos, and videos from your computer to your phone. The Sony Ericsson Equinox flip phone is available from T-Mobile.

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8. LG Lotus Elite

LG Lotus Elite
LG

Like LG's original Lotus cell phone, the Lotus Elite features a unique square clamshell design. On the outside, you get a 2.4-inch screen and some basic controls; flip the phone open and you'll see the full QWERTY keyboard and the second 2.4-inch display. You also get a 2-megapixel camera and Sprint's One Click interface. The Lotus Elite is available in red and black from Sprint.

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9. Nokia 6350

Nokia 6350
Nokia

If you're looking for an inexpensive cell phone that works well as a plain, old phone, then the Nokia 6350 could be the phone for you. It offers very good voice quality, is easy to use, and it looks good, too. You also get 3G support and built-in GPS capabilities. The Nokia 6350 is available from AT&T.

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10. Pantech Impact

Pantech Impact
Pantech

When closed, the Pantech Impact looks like your everyday cell phone, with a small display and a numeric keypad for making calls. But flip it open, and you'll see that the Impact is actually a well-equipped texting machine. Inside, it features a roomy QWERTY keyboard and a second display for composing and reading messages. It's available from AT&T.

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