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.
If you're a close follower of tech, you're probably familiar with the LG Intuition, or at least its European brother, the Optimus Vu. The major selling point: a 5", 1024x768 (4:3) display. Sure, the other specs are noteworthy in that they match other high-end phones, with a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU, 1GB RAM, Android 4.0, and LTE. But that massively wide screen is undoubtedly going to be the talking point.
Have you ever thought to yourself, "Gee, I wish I could get a real smartphone for $150 with no contractual commitment"? Well, you can. One with a 4" display, front and rear cameras, a microSD card slot, and a 1GHz processor. For half the price of the original Motorola Pebl (that thing cost $300 back in the day).
Oh, how far we've come.
But do you want a $150 smartphone? I mean, that all depends.
With a 1.4GHz single-core CPU, a majorly outdated version of Android, and a $50 price tag, the MyTouch Q is a hard sell to enthusiasts. (In fact, I'd bargain that literally no enthusiasts would buy it.) But as I explained just a few days ago, there's a lot more to the smartphone picture than devices that cost a few hundred dollars and can do everything short of make breakfast. A very large percentage of consumers have no desire to use their phone as a media streaming device or a mobile gaming powerhouse.
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.
The Meizu MX 4-Core is a truly interesting phone. And as an extention of that, Meizu itself is an interesting company. Founded by Jack Wong, it gained international notoriety when its M8 smartphone drew unwelcome comparisons to Apple's iPhone, particularly from Apple's lawyers, resulting in an early end to its production run.
Meizu claims to be fully vertically integrated - manufacturing, marketing, and selling its phones, a start-to-finish philosophy that results in decreased overhead and more control over its products (it should be noted that Meizu does not actually make all of the components in its phones, however).
If Verizon's DROID brand is the Alamo (and at this point, it sure seems like it is), then the Incredible is Davy Crockett's trusty rifle Old Betsy (yeah yeah, I know he didn't he use it at the Alamo.)
The original Incredible was the best Android phone available when it stormed onto the scene in April of 2010. The follow-up Incredible 2 was still a hot-shot, though its 4" display and lack of 4G had it outgunned from the start, relegating it to a "high end of the mid-range" role in Verizon's Android lineup.
LG has never been a company particularly well-known for its smartphones. And the occasional notoriety the company has received for its Android-powered hardware has rarely been positive. The original Ally, for example, despite its Iron Man-marketing and substantial launch hype, turned out to be an unremarkable, painfully slow phone. The next handset from LG to attract much attention (in the US, at least) was the G2X (or Optimus 2X, internationally). It too failed to gain much in the way of critical acclaim, and customers found the phone laden with major usability bugs.
There are many cheap Android phones on the market today. Most of these devices will have a single core processor clocked at around 1GHz, and there won't be an awful lot of RAM to speak of either. This remains true of the HTC One V, but the latest budget phone to come out of the Taiwanese company has one key difference: it's running the latest version of Android.
That's right, you can finally own a budget device that doesn't ship with a version of Android that was released 2 years ago!
If Toyota made a phone, it would be the Huawei Ascend P1. I don't mean that as an insult. It's an objective assessment of what the P1 is; namely, the Camry V6 of smartphones. It's not entry level - it's actually fairly beefy - but it's no cutting-edge speed-demon, either. It caters to the sense of pragmatism, rather than the lustful desires, of those who would buy it, all at a class-leading value.