When it comes to the newest generation of phones, "budget" is closer to "flagship" than ever before. Two months ago, I reviewed the free-on-contract Pantech Marauder and came away highly impressed. Ron, too, reviewed the $100 Motorola Razr M and said "This is what budget phones are like now? Where do I sign up?" The old budget formula of taking last-gen hardware and slapping it in a cheap chassis has given way to current-gen hardware in a better chassis - not to mention that the optimizations and polish of Android 4.0 make the experience better than ever on virtually any level of hardware.
You may recognize this little guy from previous leaks of the so-called HTC Proto. The device looked very similar to the Desire V and, indeed, HTC's latest announcement is dubbed the Desire X. While it's no One X, the device does pack a dual-core Snapdragon S4. Unfortunately, it's not that one. This is the MSM8225 which still uses a 45nm architecture so it's not nearly as zippy as the S4 we all know and love from other, more high-end phones.
Sony's just dropped a batch of bombshells on us today during an IFA press conference. Among the headlining new devices, the Xperia J which is being billed as an affordable smartphone with a "standout screen size." That "standout" size is 4", by the way. We're not entirely sure who Sony thinks they're going to impress with four inches, but the rest of the specs actually seem like a pretty good deal if the price is right.
First we caught a glimpse of the Samsung Jasper, a mid-range device slated for Big Red. Then Droid Life was leaked a photo of the price card for the Samsung Galaxy Stellar. Now we know they're one and the same,courtesy of a full product listing that has cropped up on Best Buy.
Though the Stellar is listed as available for store pickup beginning today, it's actually unavailable in stores at this point.
Let's get the tough stuff out of the way up front. The T-Mobile Concord is manufactured by ZTE, runs Gingerbread, and packs a pretty meager 2MP camera. Don't worry, though. This phone shall not have been mortally wounded in vain. With a price of $99 off contract (with certain plans*) from T-Mobile or Wal-Mart, it doesn't look like too bad of a deal for smartphone users on a tight budget.
US Cellular's LTE selection just gained an additional member: the Samsung Galaxy Metrix 4G. Available online today for $179 after a $100 mail-in rebate, the device comes with fairly middle-of-the-road features, such as:
- A slide-out QWERTY keyboard
- A 1GHz processor
- A 4.0-inch touchscreen
- A 5MP rear-facing camera and camcorder
- A front-facing camera
In an effort to promote its LTE network, the carrier will be lowering the handset's price to a somewhat more reasonable $129 (also after a mail-in rebate) in markets where 4G is either currently available or will be accessible by the end of the year.
Acer's newest offering illustrates what I'm talking about. The company has launched two phones - the Liquid Gallant and the Liquid Gallant Duo - that are very low-end and amazingly low-price, checking in at just £149 (about $235). Take a look at the specs:
- 1GHz MTK6575 (single-core) CPU
- 1GB RAM
- 4GB storage + microSD slot
- 4.3" qHD display
- Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
- 5MP rear shooter
- 1500mAh battery
- 129 x 65.5 x 9.9mm, 145g
- 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0
That may not be a lot of punch, but at that price, it will be enough to pull a lot of dumb- and feature-phone users into the smartphone world.
Sprint has finally announced what we'd heard almost a month ago. The Kyocera Rise, the budget smartphone best known for making my movie references easy, is heading to the Now Network on August 19th. The device will cost $19.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate. So if you want the internal specs of the original Evo in a QWERTY slider from the company that you probably didn't know also makes cutlery, it will run you $70 out the door.
While everyone loves to gush over flagship phones, the truth of the matter is that for many customers, cheaper phones - be they last-gen's flagships or this-gen's budget devices - are the route of choice. Traditionally, the former route tended to work out better, especially for enthusiasts; after all, generation-old flagships tend to still outperform and out-feature current-gen budget devices. Plus, high-end devices generally have a ton of developer support and are usually better supported by the manufacturer.