Sprint is selling the normally $100 priced Motorola Photon 4G for $50 on its Web site, the discounted iPhone 3GS is only one dollar from AT&T, and T-Mobile's Nokia Lumia 710 is just $40 (online price). If your smartphone shopping on a budget, or if you need to add a new line to your current contract, these might be the best choices for you. They are all quite different, besides being offered on different carriers. But for the price, they are tough to beat, especially the Photon 4G because it has many features found on only the most expensive devices.
It may be a temporary discount, but Sprint's Web site doesn't say, so if you're a Sprint customer looking to upgrade, keep in mind the Photon 4G will get the new Android 4.0 update in July. For AT&T customers, adding the iPhone 3GS on an extra line is a good idea for a family member's first smartphone. They can get all the most popular apps and synch iTunes easily across other Apple devices. This is good to keep in mind because storage is limited on the 3GS.
If you're looking for something different or need something for a student or young professional, T-Mobile's Nokia Lumia 710 is worth a look. It runs the Microsoft system, so it's super easy to edit documents right on the phone. All the MS Office apps run smoothly on the Lumia 710, and it's a brand new phone, so it's got the best features for its price. Obviously, in the $50 or less price range, there are tradeoffs to be made, but all three of these devices would be great for the right person. Generally, less expensive devices have lower screen resolution, smaller screens and are a bit chunkier in the hand. iPhone 3GS has the lowest resolution and the smallest camera sensor of the three, but it debuted in 2009, so that is to be expected. Tell us in the comments what your smartphone shopping experience has been like and if you've been to the stores or just searched online so far.