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Samsung Exhibit 4G, Gravity Smart break $80 price barrier

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For the past couple of years, smartphone pricing has generally hovered around the same point –– $200 for a handset, give or take, sometimes after a mail-in rebate, and always with a two-year contract. But $200 can still feel like an awful lot to fork over for a smartphone, and several manufacturers and carriers have recently begun to offer cheaper yet full-featured touchscreen devices.

The latest are the Samsung Exhibit 4G and Samsung Gravity Smart, which will retail for $79.99 and $69.99, respectively. Both are being offered by T-Mobile, and both are expected to launch sometime in June. T-Mobile reps say that users should be able to purchase data plans for as low as ten bucks a month, which is pretty cheap, as data plans go –– the "Data Pro" iPhone plan, for instance, will set you back $25 a month.

Of the two phones, the Samsung Exhibit 4G is the more full-featured. It gets the Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a 1GHz processor, a 3-megapixel camera with flash and a camcorder, and a front-facing camera with pre-installed video chat. (It's worth noting that these are features –– and a mobile operating system –– that weren't even available on some top-of-the-line smartphones until recently.)

Meanwhile, the Samsung Gravity Smart features a 3.2-inch touchscreen and a slide-out keyboard –– the Exhibit 4G has only a 3.7-inch touchscreen –– and a range of niceties, including Swype text-entry, a Web browser, social media integration, and a camcorder. The iPhone 4, it isn't. But for a sub-$70 smartphone, it's hard to imagine it getting much better than this.

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