The UK’s best (and free) mobile phones

The Feedster

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Jun 26, 2007
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Thanks to the subsidies offered by the likes of Orange, O2, T-Mobile, Vodafone and 3, there’s an amazing selection of mobile phones available for free. You still have to sign up for a monthly contract, but you can get hundreds of pounds-worth of mobile phone technology for absolutely zip.
Put it this way: the 8GB Nokia N95 costs over £440 without a contract on Expansys, but it’s free with a £35 contract at the Carphone Warehouse. A SIM-free Samsung Soul costs over £300, but you can get it for nothing at
All of which got us to thinking… What’s the best ‘free’ mobile phone you can get your hands on? What’s the best free handset if you want good music playback? What’s the best free phone for business? Or for taking photos? Here’s what we think.
The best music phone – Sony Ericsson W890i
As the successor to the W880i Walkman phone, the Sony Ericsson W890i has a lot to prove. An upgraded feature set offers enhanced 3G (HSDPA) high-speed data connectivity, a 2GB MemoryStick, FM radio and a 3.2MP camera. Crucially, the Sony Ericsson W890i has also maintained the essence of the W880i’s slim, stylish design, high quality finishing and overall desirability. (Free on: 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, read our full review).

The best camera phone – Sony Ericsson K850i
The K850i brings the best of Sony’s Cyber-shot brand to bear on a 3G (HSDPA) mobile. Like many other Sony Ericsson handsets, the K850i is a music and video player, FM radio and Internet gizmo. But its key feature is a 5MP digital camera with 16x digital zoom and a Xenon flash. 40MB of built-in memory is available for photo storage, but this can be expanded via MemoryStick or MicroSD cards. (Free on: O2, Orange, 3, T-Mobile, Vodafone).

The best touchscreen phone – LG KU990 Viewty
The LG Viewty (aka the KU990) is certainly popular – it’s consistently been the most-searched for phone on TechRadar. The star of the show is the Viewty’s iPhone-esque 3-inch touchscreen. You use it to type text and email messages, view images, browse the web, shoot video and much more. A 5MP camera, stylish design and 3G (HSDPA) connectivity all contribute to make the KU990 Viewty is one of LG’s best ever mobile phones. (Free on: O2,*Orange, 3, T-Mobile, read our full review.)

The best business phone – Blackberry Pearl 8120
Until Apple decides to give the 2nd-gen iPhone away for free, RIM’s Blackberry phones still dominate the business market. Dubbed ‘Crackberry’ phones by email-addicted owners, the 8120 Pearlhandset is the best way to get your messages on the move – enterprise server integration and personal email accounts are both supported. Once you’ve got used to the SureType keypad (two QWERTY keys per button), the Blackberry 8210 is a cracking smartphone. (Free on: O2, read our full review).

The best sat-nav phone – Nokia N95
Whether you get the original N95 model or the new N95 8GB variant, Nokia’s do-it-all smartphone pushes GPS modules as the next standard-issue phone feature. Nokia uses its own mapping technology as standard - Nokia Maps. But third-party software, such as ALK’s more advanced Co-Pilot Live 7, can be installed instead. Whatever you use, the N95 is capable of giving standalone sat-nav devices a run for their money and is ideal for last-mile pedestrian location-finding. (Free on 3, O2, Orange, Vodafone, read our full review).

The best slider phone – Samsung Soul
Samsung has blazed into the mobile phone market with a series of slick slider phones. The so-called ‘Soul’ is one such handset. The build quality is excellent, while the handset boasts 3G (HSDPA) support and a 5-megapixel camera. There’s a gimmick too: the Soul boasts dual screens, with a mini touchscreen below the main LCD. The touchscreen features dynamic icons that change depending on what you’re doing. (Free on: O2,*Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile)

The best free phone – Nokia N95 8GB
Yes, the Nokia N95 is a bit of a brick, but just look at all the functionality you can get for free: 3G, built-in 802.11g, GPS (with A-GPS support), an FM radio, 5MP digital camera (with Carl Zeiss optics), music and video playback, plus 8GB of internal flash memory. OK, so all of this power can drain the battery pretty fast. But in its new 8GB guise, the N95 is one awesome all-rounder smartphone. (Free on: 3, O2,*Orange, Vodafone, read our full review).
And the best free gift is…?
A trawl of the mobile phone sites and stores on a Friday reveals that sellers will significantly sweeten the deal if you’ll buy a phone from them., for example, is offering a Samsung J700 and a free PlayStation 3 if you commit to a £35 per month contract. Buy an LG Viewty via the Carphone Warehouse*and they’ll throw in a free Nintendo DS. It’s well worth shopping around. Offers currently range from games consoles to HD TVs, Apple iPods to camcorders. And there are always cash-back deals to be had.