6 standout smartphones for prepaid plans

Prepaid smartphones were once both lower-cost and lower-quality, but lately they're becoming a viable alternative for many users.

6 standout smartphones for prepaid plans

Using a prepaid service for your smartphone can cut your wireless bill in half -- and while you aren't going to find an iPhone or a Galaxy Note on one of America's prepaid carriers, some of the companies' offerings actually aren't half-bad. Here are six decent midrange phones now available with contract-free plans.

Note: This slideshow accompanies our story Cut the contract: How prepaid smartphones can save you money. Click through for the story behind the phones you see here. 

LG Marquee

The LG Marquee stands out for its brilliant 4-in. screen and attractive, slim body. The phone is powered by a 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM; it has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. The Marquee runs a near-stock version of Android 2.3.

Carrier: Boost Mobile
Price: $279.99


LG Optimus Black

The Android-running LG Optimus Black boasts a bright 4-in. display and a thin, light body. Its single-core 1GHz processor may pale in comparison to the dual-core and quad-core chips in most current high-end smartphones, but with its 512MB of RAM, the Black is certainly no slouch when it comes to common tasks like Web browsing and basic app usage. Best of all, LG has confirmed plans to upgrade the phone to Android 4.0 later this year.

Carrier: Straight Talk
Price: $329.99

Motorola Triumph

The Motorola Triumph has a 4.1-in. screen and dual camera setup, with a 5-megapixel camera in the back and a VGA-quality lens on the front for self-portraits and video chat. Like the Optimus Black, the phone packs a 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM. Its weak point is the software: The Triumph is stuck on the rather dated Froyo version of Android, and Motorola has announced no plans to upgrade the phone to Gingerbread, let alone Ice Cream Sandwich. That said, adventurous users can fairly easily find third-party hacks to upgrade the phone on their own. (Tip: Google the phrase "Motorola Triumph ROM")

Carrier: Virgin Mobile
Price: $279.99

Nokia Lumia 710

T-Mobile's Nokia Lumia 710 delivers the Windows Phone experience with 4G (HSPA+) speeds and prepaid plan prices. The Lumia 710 has a 3.7-in. LCD screen with Nokia's "ClearBlack" contrast-boosting technology. The phone runs on a 1.4GHz processor along with 512MB of RAM and includes a 5-megapixel camera that can record videos in 720p resolution.

Carrier: T-Mobile Monthly4G
Price: $349.99

Samsung Exhibit II 4G

For speedy HSPA+ connectivity and the Gingerbread level of Google's Android platform, the Samsung Exhibit II 4G is a fine midrange phone to consider. The Exhibit II 4G has a 3.7-in. touchscreen display and is powered by a 1GHz processor with 512MB of RAM. It includes a 3-megapixel camera and an SD Card slot for additional storage.

Carrier: T-Mobile Monthly4G
Price: $329.99

Samsung Transform Ultra

With its slide-out QWERTY keyboard, the Samsung Transform Ultra offers a now relatively rare form factor for users who prefer a more physical style of typing. The Transform Ultra has a 1GHz processor with 512MB of RAM, a 3-megapixel back-facing camera and a front-facing VGA camera. It runs a fairly clean version of Google's Android 2.3 operating system, with little bloatware and few modifications to the original OS. 

Carrier: Boost Mobile
Price: $199.99

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.