American readers might not know this, but HTC just loves the Desire brand name. It's been around since 2010, when the original launched as a slightly modified version of the Nexus One. Since then it's gone through many permutations, like the keyboard-equipped Desire Z (the G2 in the US) and got at One X-style makeover with the Desire X. The 601 brought the family up to the HTC One M7's industrial design, meaning the name has survived two of HTC's complete hardware overhauls.
The Galaxy S5 has been making the rounds since its global launch a week ago. It's already available at the major US carriers, and now it's trickling down to the smaller options out there. Today the device has come to MetroPCS, a prepaid service owned by T-Mobile, where it's available for $649 without an annual contract. The site shows the phone as currently available in-stores, but the online inventory should appear at some point.
Update: Best Buy has reached out to us to confirm that the $99.99 no-contract Verizon Moto G will go on sale as shipments arrive at the retailer's stores, which will apparently be as soon as today for some locations. If you're looking to get in on this $99 deal, it may be worth giving your local Best Buy a call to see if they have any in stock. Online availability will follow at a later date.
Competition is really heating up in the low cost, off-contract smartphone market these days. Motorola's Moto G, revealed just last week, is the meteor that could potentially change the landscape here in the US when it strikes early next year, offering specs that far exceed anything we've been conditioned to expect for $179. But that's the future. As for now, Americans looking for an affordable but capable off-contract handset can now pick up the HTC Desire (or, more specifically, the HTC Desire 601) from Virgin Mobile for $279.
Virgin Mobile has added the ZTE Supreme to its lineup of Android smartphones, a 4G LTE smartphone that will cost $299 with one of the carrier's no-contract plans starting at $35 a month. The device is priced to compete with the likes of the Nexus 4 (before its price drop) and comes equipped with a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, a 1280 x 720 5-inch display, a 13MP rear-facing camera, and a 2,500mAh removable battery.
It's a good time to be in the market for an LG Optimus G Pro from AT&T. Last week, the network dropped the off-contract price of the powerful handset down from $549.99 to $439.99. Now Amazon has bested that price by over $20. For just $414.96, this handset can be yours to use free of the confines of a two-year contract. I may not be in the majority with this opinion, but I find it's the only way to live.
The LG Optimus F3 is available today for $179.99 off-contract with Virgin Mobile. The phone comes with Android 4.1.2, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, and a commendable 2,460mAh battery. The 4G LTE-capable handset will reportedly last long enough to sustain a sixteen hour conversation, though such battery life might require more work on your end when throwing out the dead battery excuse to avoid people.
The LG Optimus F3 has a 4-inch screen shielded with Gorilla Glass 2, a 5MP camera in the back, and your typical inferior camera on the front.
T-Mobile may be done with the idea of carrier subsidies, but AT&T is ready to just pile them on. In the category of 7" tablets, Lenovo's A2107 is not too bad of a deal. Some specs don't quite match up to the N7; for example the screen is a little lower resolution, it only runs Android 4.0, and the processor is a little less powerful. However, where those aspects lack, this slate makes up for it with front and rear cameras and a 3G radio at a lower introductory price point.
One of the biggest frustrations of dealing with Verizon, if you're someone who likes to tweak their phone, is that the carrier insists on locking the bootloaders on its phones that otherwise would not be locked. Samsung has offered Developer Editions of its phones in the past, including the Galaxy S III, largely to avoid that problem and appease the dev crowd. Today, that tradition continues with the Galaxy Note II which has now appeared on the company's site in a similar hacker-friendly model.
When we think of "budget" phones, a $500 Galaxy S III may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, MetroPCS' usual strategy of having customers buy phones off contract and save money on the service is in full swing here. The device comes with a hefty price tag up front, but pick up the carrier's $50/month plan for unlimited talk, text, and 2.5GB of data, and you're looking at around $1700 over the course of 2 years.