Good all-around value for the money
If you don't mind the sketchy call quality, Nokia has hit the nail on the head with its most affordable Windows Phone handset to date. It runs the newest version of Microsoft's mobile OS, has a zippy processor, expandable storage, and produces decent pictures and video.
Least expensive handset in the Lumia line-up
If you're looking for a cheap smartphone, you may have just found it. The Nokia Lumia 520 doesn't tick all the boxes on our features wishlist, but it capably handles those that are most important. Windows Phone 8 is a beautiful operating system, but it still lacks apps. If you can get past this and don't mind sacrificing some performance and connectivity, the Lumia 520 is a strong budget buy.
Build, design, price
The Nokia Lumia 520 is a great little smartphone. It delivers what Nokia is known for, with good design and build quality, despite the affordable price point. A few hardware shortcuts have been made, knocking out the flash, front camera and NFC, for example, which the slightly more expensive Lumia 620 offers.
But at this price there's little to criticise.
A better camera and more software features than you might expect for its price tag
Though it lacks 4G LTE support, the AU$179 Nokia Lumia 520 still gives you quite a bit for your money. Pricing is absolutely this phone's primary value proposition, but the essentials all seem to work, the hardware is sturdy and the camera is better than average.
This is a good buy for someone seeking a wallet-friendly smartphone off-contract.
Exceptional call quality, Good fit and finish
As you would expect LG has made some compromises to keep the Optimus F6 affordable, but for a mid-range device they have put together an overall nice package. The device is well-built, has a good display for its class and incorporates many of the software features from LG's higher end devices. While the camera performance wasn't great, it was acceptable for Instagram and Facebook shots, and the call quality was outstanding.
Calls routed to the speakerphone were scratchy and prone to distortion
For $49 down, the LG Optimus F6 offers T-Mobile customers a lot of value. The phone's hardware may be a bit boring, but it is well put together and all the buttons and controls function without issue. The screen is very good for this class of device, and the network performance was among the best I've seen on a T-Mobile device in recent memory. It's a shame that call quality was at best average, and that the battery didn't seem to last past dinner.
The software all works well.
Affordable Windows Phone
The Nokia Lumia 610 has both its strengths and weaknesses. On one hand, you should be able to get one for about $250, as long as you do some digging around, which makes it a decent entry-level offering. On the other, you will have to accept the incompatibility of select applications and the occasional software lags caused by the smartphone's modest hardware.
Great social networking
The Nokia Lumia 610 is a great addition to the Lumia stable (and to Windows Phone in general), thanks to its incredibly low price tag. While the launch of Windows Phone Tango means that we can expect more budget handsets in the future, for now this is about as cheap as it gets.
But it's not just cheap; it's also quite good value for money. You get almost the complete Windows Phone experience, along with a solid camera, decent build quality and strong battery life.
Good social networking integration
The Nokia Lumia 610 is a budget Windows Phone 7.5 handset. Hardware cuts have been made to get the price under Â£200, but most must-have smartphone features are included. And while lag has increased, it's snappy enough to go head-to-head with similarly-priced Androids. What's less easy to forgive is the limited app and games support, which adds a bitter edge to the phone, especially as an intro to smartphones.
Slick user experience
The Nokia Lumia 610 is the baby of the company's Lumia family and aims to bring a Windows Phone device to the low-end of the market. With a reasonably sized screen and most likely a hugely competitive price point, the Lumia 610 may prove to be an excellent, entry-level smartphone.
Great battery life
On a more expensive proposition, the weak camera, capped RAM and slow browsing performance on this device would be deal-breakers. On the Lumia 610, however, they're things you can learn to live with. The handset delivers a stunning OS, good phone functionality and a healthy battery life all packaged within an acceptable design.
Good call quality
The BlackBerry Curve 9380 is an interesting foray in the touchscreen-only jungle by RIM, which probably meant to create a decent consumer-oriented budget device with its services staples. Yet when you get rid of one huge advantage for BlackBerry aficionados, which is the physical keyboard, and replace it with an on-screen one plastered over a wimpy 3.2-incher, eyebrows are bound to be raised.
Bright, colourful screen
There's definitely the potential within the BlackBerry Curve 9380 for it to be a good smartphone, and for many BlackBerry addicts on a budget, hungry for some touchscreen action, it could serve well.
Frankly, we'd rather have the BlackBerry Curve 9360 within the BlackBerry range, but if it's a touchscreen phone you want in this price bracket, we'd go for the iPhone 3GS, thanks to its slicker operating system.
Visually rich user interface
Given its price point we think that the BlackBerry Curve 9380 will do really well. It offers a similar level of functionality to the more expensive BlackBerry Torch 9860, but for a smaller price tag, bundling NFC capabilities in for good measure. It's not the biggest or most powerful touchscreen phone out there. If you're after something inexpensive that allows you to surf the web and check Facebook and that's not an Android phone this will certainly satisfy.
Decent camera and messaging capabilities
The BlackBerry Curve 9380 betrays its lower end leanings with a fairly low resolution screen and underpowered processor, but it's got a decent camera and messaging capabilities. The lack of content on BlackBerry App World will be a frustration for some however. While it will make a welcome upgrade for existing BB fans, the Curve 9380 hasn't really enough on offer to distinguish it from similarly priced Androids.
In virtually every sense, the Curve 9380 is a downgraded Torch 9860. While that Torch was a decent effort from RIM, the design brief doesn't transfer as well to a cheaper device. That doesn't mean I think it's a particularly bad phone though. At its current Â£200+ price tag, it isn't great value for money, and that is why I wouldn't recommend buying it (at that price anyway); while it does everything it should, it still doesn't really impress in the wider view of things:I think the biggest...
The Curve 9380 bears a price tag of Rs.20,990. In our opinion, that's just a tad more on the steep side, especially for a Curve series handset. While the handset itself proved to be reasonably versatile and handled itself quite well overall, the current price is, again, just a little too much. Nevertheless, if you're not willing to shell out Rs.5,000 to Rs.6,000 more for the Torches or the Touch and Type Bold handsets, then you should consider this one.
Distinctly usable despite the small size
Seen by itself, the BlackBerry Curve 9380 is a pleasantly competent smartphone. It can accomplish most common smartphone tasks without fuss. If you like tiny phones, it may even be enough to convince you to skip the Android equivalents if you're not a fan of their quirks -- certainly if you're the kind who can kill the batteries on other small phones or find Android too complex. We know a few who bought small Android phones only to trade in for something else soon afterwards.
Very poor camera
All in all, there's no doubt that the LG Optimus L3 is one perfectly usable handset, with no serious issues to cause problems with its operation. We do like the fact that it looks better than your average low-end affair, and it actually outperforms it due to its smooth UI and ability to play 3D games and Flash content in the browser. Unfortunately, the low-quality, low-resolution screen kind of ruins the whole experience.
Good performance from the processor
The Optimus L3 has its plus points it's got good battery life and feels quite speedy to use for such a modestly priced handset. However, it's let down badly by its poor quality and low resolution screen, which really does significantly hamper its usability. We'd recommend you spend a bit more to get an Android phone with a larger and higher resolution screen, such as the excellent Orange San Francisco II or Huawei Ascend G300.
Abysmal set of hardware
The LG L3 is cheap but doesn't really tick any other boxes. It has old software and an abysmal set of hardware with the all-important screen the worst of the lot. It's only saving grace is the good battery life but we recommend saving a few more pennies and going for the HTC One V or opting for the even cheaper Huawei Ascend G 300.
Hopefully bargain basement price
The LG Optimus L3 certainly isn't going to appeal to those of you after the biggest, brightest, most powerful phone, but if you only need the more basic tasks Android undertakes and want a good-looking phone on a budget, the L3 could well be worth a look.
Very fast performance
The Samsung Conquer 4G reminds us very much of the LG Optimus One in that it does what it is supposed to do well without costing an arm and a leg. The Conquer has 4G data, it has a fast processor and lots of memory but it isn't fancy. The EVO family, the Photon, the Epic: they all try and be show stoppers. Samsung didn't have to wow anyone with the Conquer 4G, but in the process of making an affordable, serviceable phone they managed to wow us quite pleasantly.
Awesome battery life
The Samsung Exhibit 4G is ideal for someone looking to save everything down to the last penny, but also wants the latest data speed connectivity. Size is also a factor here as well. The Exhibit 4G is significantly smaller than the giant fleet of 4G super phones. Oh, and then there's the whole awesome battery life situation on the Exhibit while the Thunderbolt and EVO 3D can't even last most of the day without a charge.
Crisp and colorful Super AMOLED display
In some ways the Nexus S 4G is behind the curve among $199 Android phones. It doesn't boast a dual-core processor or HD video recording. What this device brings to the table is an interface that's not cluttered with carrier apps and the ability to leverage new features as Google rolls them out. We also love how Netflix movies and TV shows look on the Super AMOLED screen, and that you can use your Sprint number as your Google Voice number.
Low price with higher end features like 4G, fast CPU and high res display
If you're on a budget and want an Android phone with solid features, the Samsung Exhibit 4G is an excellent choice. With 4G, a high resolution display and good CPU power, the Exhibit can handle most tasks well. It lacks the flashier display technology found on higher end phones, and you're giving up some camera resolution, but for $99 with contract and $299 without contract, that's OK by us.
Almost Perfect...4.5 Stars!
I am being a little picky here, but that's because I am, but for $80, you can't beat it. If you want a high-end phone but don't have or want to shell out $200 or more, take a look at the Exhibit. You will find most of the premium features for a very un-premium bottom shelf price. I was sold and after living with it for a few weeks, I am glad I chose the Exhibit.
The Samsung Exhibit 4G comes in with a "Good" ranking for an lower priced smartphone. It's amazing how fast the smartphone industry is changing, and the Exhibit 4G would have been the high end smartphone to get for T-Mobile if it was released one year ago. Barring the camera, it seems like the innards of the Samsung Galaxy S 4G have been transplanted to the encasings of the Samsung Exhibit 4G.
There isn't much that piqued our interest while handling the Samsung Galaxy Y, but it is a decent low-end Android handset from a brand name manufacturer. With the patterned silvery back cover and mirrored front we can even say it's a looker, which usually evades handsets at this price point.
As far as budget smartphones, Samsung is certainly heading down the right direction with the Galaxy Y, though execution could have been improved. For the asking price of RM 499, it is probably not much reason for us to rag on it, since it certainly is one of the more affordable offerings out there, with that kind of specifications to boot.
Uninspiring design & Lacklustre UI
The gadget's 1200 mAh battery is can keep the device up for around two days, which isn't bad for a phone with a 3.2" capacitive touchscreen.
The Wave Y does offer plenty of connectivity options in the entry-level segment. However, at an asking price of Rs 7100, you're better off buying the GALAXY Y for a premium of 200 bucks.
The Samsung Galaxy Y is a budget Android aimed at Y for Youth, and offers a basic spec for a basic price. It will stand up against many budget phones but the recent Huawei Ascend G300, with its four-inch screen and 1GHz processor, shows that the budget Android space is getting ever more advanced.
Well covered connectivity
The Samsung Galaxy Y is a decent low-end Android handset which also looks pretty good, we could say better than usual for handsets at this price point.
The specs are close to phones like the Galaxy Mini, launched back in February, but with a slightly faster processor and a better Android version. The Galaxy Y is able to do its job well enough, with average call quality, a decent interface, and a more than affordable price of $150 unlocked.
3.2 megapixel camera
Overall the LG Thrive is simply an 'Average' ranked smartphone. The Thrive could easily have slipped to the 'Below Average' ranking mainly due to the timing of its release. It is at the tail end of releases in the LG Optimus line up and in a competitive market, being late to the scene is never a good thing. Overall though, for an entry level smartphone, the LG Thrive easily performs as its name suggests, it thrives in the U.S. market.
Good looking photos
After having a decent amount of time with the Motorola DEFY, it's quite apparent that it almost afflicted with some kind of personality disorder. On one hand it seems to want to be regarded as a high-end model with its detailed display, but then at another, it wants to be known more for its ruggedness. It just doesn't quite find itself in one specific category as it attempts to encompass all of them â?? while not fully focusing on one aspect.
Since the Motorola Defy has two microphones—one for voice pickup and the other for filtering out background sounds—we got some high quality audio action when it came to placing calls.
If you want to be governed by a small device with a 5-megapixel camera, Android 2.1, MOTOBLUR, and tough body design, then the Motorola Defy is the phone for you. At just $100 for a two-year T-Mobile contract, the Defy certainly is one of the better choices out there. Not only does it flaunt the rugged construction, but it offers more than enough in the way of social networking.
A small but solid powerhouse
Motorola's Defy is a pretty solid Android 2.1 device, with a 2.2 upgrade imminent. This mid-size handset is a good choice. The engineering feat that enables the Motorola DEFY to cram in a 3.7in display within its 59x107x13.4mm frame means you get every bit as much screen space to view web pages as you do on a fully featured smartphone such as the Samsung Galaxy S.
Battery performance better than average
Overall the Motorola Defy is an impressive and likeable handset. Some of the Motorola Blur elements get a little lost, so we quickly found ourselves adding additional applications to serve up a more conventional social networking platter. But we do like the design and think there is a certain something about the Defy that does make it distinctive.
Camera is swift and pretty decent
Overall, the Motorola Defy is a confusing one. Its rugged nature is not inherent when you pick it up people who want a phone for a workshop or building site might enjoy it, but that's a pretty niche market. Things like the Car Dock, where you can quickly access navigation and music apps, are a nice touch, and the camera is swift and pretty decent too.
Excellent hardware design
When I first powered up the HTC 7 Surround I was pretty blown away by Windows Phone 7. It's the first time I've been able to say that a Microsoft mobile operating system feels hip and cool.
I've found myself typically using Android for the most part these days. But I really wanted to dive into Windows Phone 7 and decided to make the Surround my primary device for a while. There's a lot to love, such as the home screen and the zippiness of it all.
Dynamic aspects of the homescreen
Based on our initial experience with Windows Phone 7, it's clear to say that Microsoft placed a lot of emphasis on its presentation â?? which is evident with its heavy usage of transition effects and dynamic tiles. Although it showcases plenty if stunning visuals throughout the platform, the constant theme of responsiveness reverberates throughout every aspect of the platform; from the smooth kinetic scrolling to the lightning quick pinch gestures.
sound recording was impressive due to the phone's enhanced microphones.
Well, we've seen the Samsung Focus, which specializes in the best touch screen display with its Super AMOLED screen. Then there's the Quantum with its ample sliding QWERTY keyboard for the texter and avid Word document scribe. Then along comes the HTC Surround, which is abviously the entertainment aficionado's phone of choice, offering the ability to prop the phone up on its kickstand and take advantage of portable Dolby stereo sound with exceptional quality for a phone.
sharp, smooth video
The Surround is a solid Windows Phone 7 phone with a regrettable "boom box" gimmick. The Surround is a solid Windows Phone 7 phone with a regrettable "boom box" gimmick. The powerful myTouch 4G delivers when it comes to multimedia and performance, but make sure you live in an HSPA+-supported area before purchasing it.
Available for $199 on AT&T, we like the idea of a phone with strong media capabilities, a kickstand for watching movies and TV, and a big speaker that can fill a small room with Zune tunes.
The HTC Surround is what happens when a company has to be creative within a set of specific limitations. While we applaud HTC for creating an innovative design with its slide-out speaker, the phone as a whole doesn't fully deliver as a multimedia-centric device. If you're looking for the best possible Windows Phone 7 device on AT&T, the Samsung Focus costs the same as the Surround ($199 with a two-year contract) but is lighter, has a brighter screen, and longer battery life.
Solid build quality
The HTC Surround is a solid, professional looking smartphone. Build quality is excellent and the phone feels good in hand. We have our doubts about the speaker bar not because we hate blasting music on the train or in a small room, but because it adds thickness and weight. We're just not convinced that the average Windows Phone 7 adult buyer will sign on for more bulk, though teens will likely love it.
The HTC 7 Surround is one of the best Windows Phone 7 devices with a special focus on multimedia playback.
Overall, the HTC Surround should be considered an 'Average' rated smartphone, and not on the higher side of that 'Average' rating either. The idea for the HTC Surround sounds a bit sketchy on paper but there's that feeling that it just might work out, but in practice, it really falls flat. Microsoft's limitation of hardware and software forces the HTC Surround to only have the soundbar as the distinguishing feature.
Long battery life
As with any phone featuring a new operating system, one must judge the engine separately from the vessel it moves. In the case of the HTC Surround, the second Windows Mobile 7 phone coming from AT&T sometime in the next couple of weeks, the operating system makes a far more positive impression than the phone. The HTC Surround's conceit is its slide-up horizontal speaker with a "surround enhancement" button to activate Dolby or SRS surround sound, and a rear kickstand.
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