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.
We can easily get caught up in the mad scramble for the latest and greatest, so it's easy to lose track of the fact that low-end smartphones also have a place in the world. For this one, we'll let you decide. Who wants a smartphone with a 3" (yes, that is three inches) 240x320 TFT display, a 3MP rear camera, an unspecified "powerful" processor and 512MB of RAM? Before you decide, I should also point out that this phone has a dedicated music button and, for some bizarre reason, the spec sheet lists a WVGA projector (9 lumens), though it seems incredibly likely that this is a mistake.
Earlier this evening, Nasdaq reported that Taiwanese manufacturer Acer decided to cancel a press conference scheduled for Thursday, which would have seen the announcement of Acer's CloudMobile A800.
The smartphone, which would have been unveiled in Shanghai, was set to run on Aliyun, a mobile OS developed by a Chinese Internet firm called Alibaba Group, the largest internet firm in China by transactions. Acer indicated that the press conference was canceled after Google, according to Nasdaq, "expressed concerns about the smartphone."
An anonymous official at Acer commented that "Acer will continue to communicate with Google and the company still wants to launch the new smartphone based on Alibaba software."
When we last heard about the Samsung Galaxy Stellar, a mid-range device coming to Verizon, Aaron was left wondering why this device was alleged to cost more than the Galaxy Nexus on contract. Well, now we have the answer: it doesn't! The 4" LTE device will be free with a 2-year contract, though that's after a $50 mail-in rebate.
The device packs the specs you would expect from a phone that's launching with a (mostly) free price tag:
4G LTE – customers can expect fast download speeds of 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps in 4G LTE coverage areas
4-inch WVGA display (800 x 480)
Android™ 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich – support for Google Mobile™ Services including Gmail™, YouTube™, Google Talk™, Google Maps™ and access to more than 600,000 apps available to download from Google Play
Suite of Amazon apps includes Kindle, Shopping, MP3, Zappos, IMDB and Audible
You may recognize this little guy from previous leaks of the so-called HTCProto. 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. That's sitting underneath a 4" SLCD display with a resolution of 800x480 which, while certainly not bad, isn't setting any bars for picture clarity.
Update 8/29/12: The deal is back (Amazon Wireless, Wirefly), though only until August 30th (tomorrow). Remember, you'll need to activate a new line of service and subscribe to the Share Everything plan to get the $40 bill credit.
Original article from May 2012 follows.
Verizon, looking to sweeten the deal for anyone ready to grab a new 4G smartphone, has begun a promotion that offers customers a $40 bill credit when buying a new 4G LTE smartphone from either Amazon Wireless or Wirefly.com.
The promotion, which is open to new or upgrading customers, began at 12am today and will last until May 24th.
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.
9.2mm slim stylish design
4.0" FWVGA (480x854) TFT display (244 ppi)
1GHz Qualcomm MSM7227A (single core)
5MP rear camera
"Up to 4GB" flash storage, microSD expandable up to 32GB
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
This device won't be winning any performance awards, but with a high-resolution display and what could be a decent camera, this may be just what international users are looking to pick up off-contract.
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. If you're in the market, you can pick one of these up on August 26th.
While most of our readers will be entirely uninterested in a Gingerbread phone made by ZTE, it's still very interesting to note that high-speed phones are becoming available for so little money.
If you happen to be in the market for a new phone on Sprint in the near future, you might want to hold off for a couple days. TechnoBuffalo reports that the Now Network is getting ready to launch a promotion on August 12th—and continuing until September 30th—that will offer customers a free ZTE Optik tablet when they purchase any new smartphone. Yes, any new smartphone. Including the free Galaxy Nexus for new users ($99 for upgrading customers).
Of course, the ZTE Optik isn't exactly making headlines in the tablet world, though Liam thought it was decent for the price even when it wasn't free.
Today, MetroPCS announced yet another addition to its stable of prepaid Android smartphones. One of the pricier off-contract handsets, the device retails for $459. So, what do you get for a significant portion of your rent for the month? Well, for a Metro PCS phone, it's actually a pretty decent spec list:
4.3" Super AMOLED display
8MP rear-facing camera w/ flash
1.3MP front-facing camera
32GB of "external memory"*
*Note: It's a little unclear what they mean by "32GB of external memory." The device's spec page also lists a 16GB memory card, so it may be that the device has an SD card slot that supports up to 32GB, but only includes a 16GB card.