We selected three new models available on pay-as-you-go ranging from £69.99 to £149.99, and put them through their paces.
The good: Cheap, solid design, SD card slot
The bad: Ageing version of Android, poor quality screen, poor battery
Review: The MotoSmart, Motorola's most affordable smartphone, costs less than £100 - and in many ways you can really tell. The 3.5-inch display is disappointingly low-res, the single-core 800MHz processor lacks punch and the 3MP camera is far from impressive.
Design-wise, the MotoSmart is not going to be strutting down the catwalk any time soon and it is the largest phone of the three we have tested. But Motorola has also ensured that the phone is pretty nicely built.
The smooth rubber of the black body contrasts with the metallic strip at the bottom of the battery cover, and overall the phone feels solid and capable of surviving a fall without major damage.
The phone comes with four capacitive touch buttons at the bottom of the screen, leading through to Menu, Home, Back and Search options. In terms of physical buttons, it has a volume on the right hand side and the on/off button on the top. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack and microSD slot for extra storage.
Things start to fall down, though, with the screen, which has a 320 x 480 resolution that displays icons in muddy, pixelated patches of colour. Smaller text on web pages is blurry until you zoom in, meaning web browsing can become a bit of a chore.
As the screen is quite dull, it is tempting to increase the brightness, but be warned that doing so will drain the MotoSmart's battery on full charge in a matter of hours. Not too impressive.
The phone runs Android Gingerbread, and as Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean have since come along, this version is starting to show its age. Performance is definitely laboured at times, but the OS is certainly serviceable.
The verdict: The MotoSmart comes with a cheap price, but has plenty of competition at the budget end of the Android market and could struggle to win people's hearts with what it's got to offer.
Available from The Carphone Warehouse for £89.99 on pay-as-you-go, or free on contracts from £7.50 per month.
Samsung Galaxy Y
The good: Cheap, MicroSD card slot, decent finish
The bad: Low quality display, small size will not suit everyone
Review: The new Galaxy Y is a world away from Samsung's mammoth Galaxy S3 smartphone, and is definitely aimed at a totally different end of the market. Looking a bit like a slimmed down Galaxy S2, the compact handset performs pretty well considering its price tag.
Samsung has ensured the phone has a simple, clean and actually pretty stylish look and feel. The face is uncluttered with just a main home button, while the rear has a textured finish that feels nice in the hand.
The Y is a solid handset that will take the knocks and keep on trucking. We got a silver and black review sample, but there are also white and pink versions available.
Users are able to remove the battery from the rear and access a microSD slot that supports up to 32GB of extra memory, an important feature as the phone only comes with 160MB on-board.
Whilst the build quality on the Galaxy Y is impressive, the LCD screen is not and this is really where the phone falls down. The low-res display is ugly to look at in both text and graphics, and is also not very responsive.
The phone runs the ageing Android 2.3 Gingerbread overlaid with Samsung's TouchWiz software, but space for apps and widgets is limited due to the small display.
Games such as Angry Birds and video apps such as YouTube perform well via the 800MHz processor, but the phone struggles with more complex tasks.
Compared with the MotoSmart, the 2MP rear camera on the Y actually takes some pretty nice images that can be shared on social networks without embarrassment, while the battery supports more than 24 hours of use.
The verdict: The Samsung Galaxy Y is really aimed at people upgrading from a featurephone to their first Android handset. It is solidly built and has decent features for the price, but slow performance and a poor screen are nothing to write home about.
Available from The Carphone Warehouse for £69.95 on pay-as-you-go, or free on contracts from £7.50 per month.
HTC Desire C
The good: Nice design and finish, Android Ice Cream Sandwich, Beats Audio
The bad: Sometimes sluggish performance, unresponsive touchscreen
Review: While it is a budget handset, the HTC Desire C's major selling point is that it runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, overlaid with HTC's own Sense 4.0 user interface.
Despite only being powered by a 600MHz processor and 512MB of RAM, the Desire C runs head and shoulders above the other two handsets tested, although that is not surprising considering that it is also the most expensive.
But it is a bit disappointing to see some sluggishness in the touchscreen, particularly in terms of the touch buttons at the bottom. The lack of power in the processor also makes performance frustratingly slow at times. Apps can take a few seconds to open, which doesn't sound a big deal, but gets irritating over a day's usage.
The Desire C's 3.5-inch HVGA (320x480) resolution screen is a bit small when compared to the 4-inch display in the comparable Huawei Ascend G300, which is around £50 cheaper. But at least the display is sharp and clear.
Where the Desire C also really excels, though, is in its design. The rubberised rear panel feels great in the hand and neatly houses the central-placed 5MB camera. The phone is just as solid as the Galaxy Y and MotoSmart, but is crucially much more attractive and nice to hold.
Another big selling point is the inclusion of Beats Audio by Dr Dre, which is pretty impressive for a phone priced below £150. There are also pre-loaded apps for TuneIn Radio, 7Digital and SoundHound.
The 5MP camera is not going to capture any masterpieces, but it performs much better than the others. The phone has a microSD slot that allows users to build on the 4GB of internal storage, and HTC has pre-installed an app for the DropBox remote storage service.
The verdict: HTC's Desire C packs a lot of features for a phone that costs less than £150, and makes a very good case for putting a bit more money in your Android new-phone pot.
Available from The Carphone Warehouse for £149.99 on pay-as-you-go, or free on contracts from £10 per month.