Verizon stores will debut the Samsung Illusion in January, but starting Thursday and lasting through the weekend, the brand new device will be free from Verizon's Web site. It's a new Android phone with a 3.5-inch screen and the newest version of the Android system, version 3.2. It's got enough processing speed for a beginner type smartphone, but the camera is below average and it lacks decent screen resolution. It's free on the Verizon Web site for a few days, and then will be available for $80. Both the free and subsidized price are, of course, contingent on buying a new two year contract from Verizon.

Additionally, Amazon is offering the AT&T version of the Galaxy S2 for just a penny until Nov. 28. Again that's if you sign a two year contract with AT&T. Verizon famously passed on selling the Galaxy S2 this summer, and it's a major reason the device has not overtaken the iPhone in the U.S. As for this smartphone battle, the Illusion is no match for the Galaxy S2 and it's 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display and eight megapixel camera. These phones are aimed at two different customers, but when comparing them, it's a wonder Samsung is releasing the Illusion at all. Other than the free online deal, it's not worth the $80 on contract price. There are a slew of even less expensive phones that are better than the Illusion.

It comes down to marketing once again, and because Verizon is the second largest carrier in the U.S., there is now doubt how effective they can be. Verizon is the exclusive home of the Droid Razr and will be the home for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus whenever it launches. If you are reading this and you are looking for an inexpensive smartphone, run away as fast as you can from the Illusion. Even if the free online offer seems to good to pass up, just go to Amazon and get the Droid Incredible 2. You'll need a two year contract, just like with the Illusion, but at least you get a bigger screen and decent resolution. If you really want the best deal, get the Galaxy S2 Skyrocket from Amazon for a penny. It's not on Verizon, but it puts the Illusion to shame.

Let us know in the comments if you are getting a Black Friday deal smartphone this weekend.