Dial into a cheap mobile
Smartphones can be bought on a budget, writes Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson
HTC ONE SV Vodafone, $ 30/ m for 24m vodafone. com. au
HTC’S newest One ( ironically, there are several) looks like the company’s current flagship phone mated with last year’s One XL. It boasts a Beats speaker on its rear panel, and it offers a rounded, minimalist exterior, but one made of soft- touch plastic rather than slick aluminium. Its screen is also smaller than that of its big brother, at 4.3 inches, and its resolution is not as sharp, at 480x800 pixels. What remains is a capable 4G smartphone, however, that uses a 1.2GHz dualcore chip, 1GB RAM and Google Android Jelly Bean ( v4.1) software. There’s no HTC BlinkFeed to show you news stories at a glance, but it does offer plenty of HTC Sense apps to help you see appointments, play music or view the weather instantly. The screen can be sticky, and its clarity doesn’t compare to the much pricier top model, but this One is smarter than its prepaid contract suggests.
NOKIA LUMIA 520 Nokia, $ 229 nokia. com/ au
NOKIA’S baby Windows Phone, the Lumia 520, packs in a lot for its price. The cheapest in the range has a similar look to its bigger brothers, with a colourful, matte plastic shell, a four- inch screen with a reasonable resolution ( 800x480), and Windows Phone software. The Live Tiles that fill its screen are powered by a 1GHz dual- core processor and 512MB RAM, placing it in a slower lane, but Nokia includes its own apps including music- streaming and navigation additions. A five- megapixel camera also features, with virtual lenses for options like panoramic images, though it could be faster to focus. Lumia 520 buyers miss out on 4G and NFC connectivity in other Nokia phones, and a front- facing camera for video calls, but they will also save plenty of cash.
SONY XPERIA E Boost Mobile, $ 99 shop. boost. com. au
THOSE who prefer pocket- sized phones should appreciate Sony’s budget smartphone. Bucking the big trend, the Xperia E will fit in almost any pocket, or even hide inside a purse, at just 11cm tall and 115g in weight. Despite its sub-$ 100 price, the Xperia E can use the latest apps, thanks to Android Jelly Bean software ( v4.1), and will capture photos with a rear 3.2- megapixel camera, triggered by a dedicated shutter button. Spending so little on a phone does demand compromises, however, and the largest is its 3.5- inch screen that offers a meagre 320x480 pixel resolution, making it hard to see anything in sharp focus. The 1GHz processor also slows down proceedings, the phone offers just 4GB memory until you add your own card, and those who want 4G download speeds will be disappointed.
SAMSUNG GALAXY EXPRESS Samsung, $ 397 samsung. com/ au
FROM first glance, and perhaps even a second, this Samsung smartphone looks like a more expensive model. It features the same design, chrome finishes and rounded edges as the Galaxy S3, as well as a mechanical home button and Super AMOLED Plus screen. Look closer and you might notice that the screen is smaller ( 4.5 inches) and its body is thicker ( 9.3mm), but they are tough to tell apart until they’re in use. The Galaxy Express uses a slower dual- core 1.2GHz chip and 1GB RAM, making it pause slightly between app transitions in Android Jelly Bean ( v4.1), but it does offer a rear five- megapixel camera, front camera for video calls, plus NFC chip and 4G connectivity for quick downloads. Naturally, you won’t get the cutting- edge additions of the GS4 with this handset, but for a $ 400 saving you might not mind.
LG OPTIMUS F5 LG, $ 299 lg. com. au
LG’S newly launched budget handset packs some premium features into its $ 299 shell. They include high- speed 4G connectivity, an NFC chip, a stylish body with double chrome accents, and touch- sensitive Android buttons beneath its 4.3- inch screen. The Optimus F5 sits between LG’s flagship and budget handset ranges, and its specifications sit in the middle too. The phone runs Google Android’s Jelly Bean software ( v4.1) on a dualcore 1.2GHz processor and 1GB RAM, and offers 8GB storage, with space for a memory card to add more. On the downside, this phone’s five- megapixel camera is not accompanied by a flash, making low- light photos difficult, its screen can make fine print tough to read ( 960540), and it’s only available from Optus and Virgin Mobile.