These days, Android phones come in a variety of form factors, features, and –most importantly – price-points. Gone are the days when a smartphone meant parting ways with a large sum of cash.
This piece looks at three recent Android phones that offer a variety of different experiences, from the truly stripped-down to a capable intermediate all-rounder to a budget phone-tablet hybrid, but all of them are available at prices that won’t break the bank.
Sony Xperia U
Sony puts up a strong contender in the budget Android phones arena with the Xperia U. It sports a dual-core processor that runs at a relatively quick 1 ghz and comes pre-loaded with Android’s Gingerbread operating system. This means it’s not running the latest version of Android, but thanks to the punchy processing power, it’s upgradable to Android 4.
Perhaps the most likable thing about this Sony handset is its compact form factor, something that can be hard to find in a slickly designed package in other Android phones. It comes with a 3.5-inch screen, which is somewhat on the small side, and a longish candy-bar shape. Its standout design feature is a lighting strip at the phone’s base that pulses with different colours depending on what’s on the screen. According to CNet UK, the colours correspond to the dominant tones on your screen, so if you’re looking at a photo of London’s red double-decker buses, then the lighting strip glows red. Pretty nifty stuff for a budget phone.
According to CNet UK’s review of the Sony Xperia U, it’s a “worthy contender” on the current market of Android phones if you’re looking for high design on a low budget. Technically, it’s relatively snappy, although its most prominent feature — that cool lighting strip — can be a love-it or hate-it feature.
Huawei Ascend G300
Huawei’s strongest contender in the budget Android phones segment is the G300. It features a large, four-inch screen, a 1 ghz processor and runs Android Gingerbread out of the box. According to CNet UK, that big screen probably gives it the edge over its rivals, many of which sport slightly smaller displays.
The G300 is also upgradable to Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich flavour, although it runs perfectly fine as is, according to CNet UK. Additionally, the consumer electronics title suggests that users of the G300 might want to keep the older operating system in place so that the Android phone runs more smoothly, and also because it fulfills all the basic functions of a smartphone more than adequately.
The G300, then, is among the budget Android phones you want if you’re looking for a strong all-rounder. As CNet UK notes, it’s the “new star of the Android bargain basement”. The G300 gets a similar endorsement from mobile phone community Giffgaff, which put the G300 among its top “all-rounders” of 2012, noting that the handset has “the looks to match its impressive spec sheet”.
The Lenovo S880 is a welcome addition by the Chinese manufacturer, showing their diversification into Android phones. The Lenovo S880 is slightly higher on the price scale, but nevertheless it represents good value in the Android phones market. Its form-factor is a cross between a mobile phone and a tablet, so it sports a five-inch display. Unlike the other Android phones in this piece, it comes with Ice Cream Sandwich, or Android 4.0, installed out of the box.
The S880’s other specs are similarly impressive. Like the other Android phones in this article, it runs on a 1 ghz processor. But it also comes with a plethora of other ports and connectors that would only be available on a phone this size, at this price point. These include a microSD slot, a dual-SIM bay and a five megapixel camera.
The S880 is a capable tablet-phone hybrid, or ‘phablet’, according to Thinkdigit, a gadget blog focused on the Indian market, notes. In particular, the S880 excels at the budget end of that Android phones segment while delivering good performance, battery life and overall user experience. Most importantly, it comes as a dual-SIM phone, which can be an important factor for many users.