Remember when a low-cost phone meant something you were kind of embarrassed to pull out in front of your judgmental in-laws? A tiny screen, a chunky plastic body, and a processor with about as much kick as a grasshopper with polio - you'd be lucky if you could get Angry Birds to run on the thing. That's no longer the case - there are plenty of phones available for under $200 that look downright swanky. Case in point: the new VIBE S1 Lite, which Lenovo announced at CES in Las Vegas. It's quite a looker, and according to Lenovo, it will sell for around $199 USD.
Android news tends to focus on the flagship phones from the largest companies, if only because they inform the direction of phone design for the following year or so. But it's important to remember that giant corporations like LG release dozens of new models in the same timeframe. The first two LG phones announced for 2016 are the K7 and K10, both being revealed before the enormous Consumer Electronics Show (which doesn't technically begin until Wednesday).
Both phones are quite few steps down from flagships, but noticeably above the entry level, much like the older L series that they're based on.
Verizon and Motorola are announcing the latest entries in their long-running DROID series in Chicago today. The DROID Turbo 2 is the new flagship, and its "shatter-proof" screen is the clear highlight, but the partners also announced an updated version of the popular DROID Maxx from 2013. The new DROID Maxx 2 is a mid-range device that shares a lot of design DNA with the Moto X Play revealed earlier this year.
As I sit here in a hip Los Angeles coffee shop across from the seemingly never-ending whooshes and rumbles of LA traffic on a busy boulevard just outside the door, I wonder if $4 is a reasonable price for the latte now sitting in front of me. It does have one of those latte art fern-shaped things on it. Or, at least it looks like a fern to me.
While not a tiny amount of money, it doesn't seem totally unreasonable. (And trust me: $4 for a latte is a respectable price in Los Angeles.) After all, I am availing myself the use of said business's counter, its rather lovely interior inspired by the owner's Taiwanese heritage (well, supposedly), a nice ceramic cup for my beverage, and the generally relaxed atmosphere the place provides.
If you like the style and utility of the G4 but need something a little easier on your wallet, LG has something to show you. The G4 Beat is a cheaper alternative and the sequel to last year's G3 Beat. You'll have to make some notable compromises to get that price down, and unfortunately it's going to be difficult to gauge whether they're worth it - the company hasn't said precisely how much it will cost, though some markets will be getting the phone later this month.
The screen on the G4 Beat is probably one of the best in the mid-range market, a 5.2" 1080p IPS panel.
ZTE unveiled the Blade S6 in January, a mid-range 5-inch handset with decent specs considering its $249.99 price. Now it's making a beefier version, the S6 Plus, available on eBay in global markets for $299.99 (£199.99 and €276.99 in the UK and Europe).
You don't have to pay the full price if you're eager enough to snatch one up right away. ZTE is temporarily selling the device for $269.99.
Whether you choose to wait, you're getting a decent set of specs for your money. The ZTE Blade S6 Plus contains a 1280 by 720 display, Snapdragon 615 processor, Adreno 405 GPU, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 13MP rear-facing camera, and a 5MP front-facing shooter.
Along with the Xperia Z4 Tablet, Sony has announced the mid-range waterproof Xperia M4 Aqua today at Mobile World Congress.
With a 5" 720p display, 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 Octacore, and 2GB of RAM, the Xperia M4 Aqua doesn't seem too impressive to begin with. However, when you start factoring in all the other specs, you'll understand why Sony says that there are "no compromises" in this mid-ranger.
First up, a 13MP camera (remember when that was a feature of high-end smartphones?) with Sony's Exmor RS sensor and a large F2.0 aperture with 3200 ISO sensitivity dons the back of the Xperia M4 Aqua and adapts to various environments.
Love it or hate it, the original LG G Flex sure did create some buzz. The second version of the phone appears to be an improvement in just about every way, but LG doesn't seem to be content with flagship-style offerings. Three UK just announced that it will carry the LG Spirit 4G starting in June. This decidedly mid-range device also has a curved screen, and... well, that's about the only interesting thing aside from Lollipop software at launch.
Before you get too excited, Three's promotional video (the sole source of information on the phone so far) doesn't mention flexibility at all, so this phone probably won't bend or heal like the G Flex series.
When LG announces mid-range phones, it does not play around. The Korean OEM has dropped four new devices today with a wide range of specifications and familiar design. None of these phones will be a replacement for the LG G3, but they will launch with Android 5.0 Lollipop.