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.
High build quality, Great price-to-performance ratio
The Acer Liquid Z3 won't win any beauty awards, but it feels refined and dependable - it's certainly capable of carrying its own weight if you're looking for a primary device on the cheap, though it would also make a perfect work/secondary phone, especially the dual-SIM version.
Good battery life, Dual SIM, Storage can be extended
The performance is not great, but it is sufficient for everyday use with the Google Android OS, which is available in an updated version. Price-conscious buyers, who are satisfied with the most basic of smartphone qualities, should pick this smartphone up without a second thought.
Good camera, Vibrant Display, Ergonomic build
To cut it short, the Acer Liquid Z3 could have and would have been an amazing phone if it was released probably a year ago. It offers a great balance of things from the vibrant display, the good camera & the solid build quality along with the flip cover. The big catch with that however is - for Php4,490, you can get much better options with the competition - ones that don't run on low-resolution displays & ones that are using quad-core MediaTek chips instead of the dual-core kind.
It's a looker - compact and stylish
The Sony Xperia M is a phone with good looks, streamlined user interface that we actually like, and a powerful chip for its class. Not a bad combination, is it? It has its downsides - we wish the screen was a bit better, but our biggest complaint right now is price. The handset sells for prices of between $200 and $250 off contract, and that is a bit steeper than weÃ¢Â?Â?d like for such a device.
Offers a relatively big and sharp screen
Sony has had some very strong contenders at the entry level: the Xperia U was the cheapest dual-core you can get for a long time and the M is its spiritual successor. Most phones in this price range have Cortex-A5/A7 chipsets and can't shoot 720p video.
The Sony Xperia M has a lot going for it - attractive design, compact size and good build, and a reasonably powerful chipset for the class.
cheap Android phone is okay, but there are better budget phones
Well built and designed, and with great battery life, we can't be too harsh on the Xperia M. Performance an connectivity is good enough, but these days for this price we want better from the display and camera. Not a bad phone, but there are better rivals on the market.
Quality build, Available in four colors
Sony's 4-inch Samurai proved to be a little hot-head that fits in every pocket due to its compact size in the test. We particularly liked the quality build and the strong graphics unit considering it is an entry-level phone. The Xperia M also scores with its phone qualities. The message LED is a nifty and useful feature that has been implemented well in the design.
On the other side, the middling screen is at the top of the list.
Likeable design, Great screen quality
Nokia has covered pretty much all price points with its Lumias, with the 520 and 620 being even cheaper, but if you plan on going that way, keep in mind that you are going to get what you're paying for. We also don't encourage you to purchase the Lumia 820, because it simply lacks the finesse of the 720. Yes, it has a slightly better processor and a bit more RAM, but specs don't really matter much when real-life performance speaks otherwise.
Slick OS, Good camera, Attractive design
We really like the Nokia Lumia 720, it's a great all round smartphone and while it doesn't do enough for us to love it, we would seriously recommend it.
It falls into a difficult place in the market with strong competition from the Samsung Galaxy S3 mini and HTC One S, but both of those handsets are getting on a bit and the Lumia 720 has the vitality of youth in its favour.
Widest aperture on a phone yet
The Nokia Lumia 720 may be some of the best work we've seen from the Finns recently - not a pricy best-of-the-best flagship, but an affordable, well-built phone that packs more than enough features to get users interested. It has its nagging flaws, but as an overall package it's hard to beat.
Higher-end features without a massive display
In some ways, the Lumia 720 is everything we've asked for from Nokia. It's slickly designed and has superlative battery life, the camera out-performs rivals in the same price bracket, and the screen - though lower resolution than we like - is a nice compromise of size, outdoor usability, and general clarity.
Decent screen, Well built
The early signs are positive for the Sony Xperia L which brings a decent set of features to the bottom end of the market and although it won't be as cheap as the likes of the ZTE Blade 3, Huawei Ascend G330 and Nokia Lumia 520, it will still register as affordable for a lot of people.
Generally it copes with everything pretty well and while there is a hint of slow down every now and then that's expected from cheaper handsets.
Seriously good camera for the price
Overall, the Xperia L is a package that fits in its midrange spot nicely. It's an adequately powered smartphone and an above average cameraphone. There seems to be enough appeal there for common-sense buyers - and that's something to build on. Without a doubt, the Xperia L should be grateful to the Xperia U for the momentum and to Sony, for doing the right thing.
Impressive camera for price
The Sony Xperia L is no Xperia Z, but then it was never meant to be. What it tries to do is take as many of the great qualities from the flagship Sony phone and blend them into a cheaper, more affordable body and it does a generally decent job of it.
The 8-Megapixel camera is a slick performer and the build is surprisingly quite good even if we are not entirely convinced by the sharp bezel.
Unimpressive performance, Some software bugs
With its black, arched design and silver details, the Sony Xperia L is definitely among the better-looking budget phones. Its older version of Android and software bugs really let it down though. The Google Nexus 4 is a much better phone all round and only costs £10 more.
Appealing design, Vivid 4.3 in display
With all its downsides, we can see the case for the Desire 300. HTC has priced this well. If you can live with the slight lag and appreciate the design and in-hand feel, it is not a bad deal at its very affordable starting full retail price of around $200 (180 euro in Europe).
I really enjoy the smartphone. The only thing I don't like about it is a tiny internal storage. You get only 1 GB for your applications and data. Of course you can extend that by inserting a sd-card. But unfortunately you cannot install your app on it, unless you root your device. The battery life is even better then I expected. Normally I charge it not often then every other day. Overall it's pretty good rigid smartphone.
Fit for outdoor use, Bright display
Overall, we can certify that the Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 completed our tests with good results --considered as if it were a normal smartphone. The fact that it is suited for outdoor use is something like a big bonus. We definitely recommend the Xcover 2 to anyone who wants to have their smartphone with them "at work and at play", sports included. The recommended retail price is rather high, but the street price -- as usual with Samsung products -- is much lower.
Good display, Adequate performance
There was a time when cheap smartphones were slow and clunky, which made them frustrating to use, but it looks like things are now changing for the better. Of course, the LG Optimus L5 II is far from a benchmark record holder, but it offers performance that is satisfactory and very adequate for its class. Furthermore, it has a screen that is better than what you'd see on similarly priced devices - one of its best advantages over the competition.
Camera shutter can be voice activated
The LG Optimus L5 II is a neat and compact little handset, with a vibrant screen and good battery life. It has some neat features too, including its Quick Memo app and the voice activated shutter for the camera. However, we wish LG had given it a bit more grunt in the performance department, as it can feel a little bit underpowered at times.
Affordable price, Bright screen, Decent battery life
The LG Optimus L5 II is cheap, has a decent screen and pleasing battery life, making it a fair choice for recent smart phone converts. Unfortunately, it's let down by unimpressive performance, and its tiny storage will likely cause a few problems.
Bright display with good viewing angle stability
The LG Optimus L5 II meets the requirements of a mainstream smartphone: It does not really stand out in one category. Inside the pretty simple case is a SoC with a weak processor and limited memory equipment. The internal storage is just too small and the quality of the camera is tolerable at best. The touchscreen with the sticky surface attracts dirt, at least it does not affect the functionality.
Catchy and ergonomic design
HTC has made a mucho sympatico handset with the 8S, shaping it in a two-tone ergonomic bod, with very easy one-handed operation. It has skimped a bit on the camera quality, and not even included one for video chat, but the rest of the readings are solid, and there is even a microSD slot for storage expansion, which you don't see often with HTC these days.
Its direct competitor is the Nokia Lumia 820, which is capable, but more expensive and more unwieldy to handle.
Great social network integration
The HTC 8S is a good all round handset. It doesn't do a terrible job of anything but stylish looks aside it also struggles to stand out.
Pretty much every Windows Phone is great for messaging and social networks and this is no exception, while being able to expand the storage with a microSD card is always appreciated.
Equally the performance is generally pretty slick, which combined with the stylish design gives the impression of a more premium, expensive handset than it actually is.
Excellent build quality and a fresh youthful styling
The HTC Windows Phone 8S is a likeable little handset. It clearly isn't one of the platform's headliners, but it may be the right thing to help the fresh Windows Phone 8 conquer some new territory.
The 8S was meant to make the WP OS more desirable and accessible, and it seems the HTC engineers did a pretty good job of cutting the right corners. The display may not be the standard-setting stuff that we saw in the One X, but it isn't half bad either.
Expandable storage via microSD slot
The Windows Phone 8S by HTC isn't going to blow anyone's socks off with its modest specs. But its design certainly sets it apart from the pack - the range of bright, strongly contrasting colours its available in will put a smile on many a face. Running Windows Phone 8 and with a dual-core processor, its nice and fast, and the microSD slot means you can easily upgrade storage.
Solid performance and features for a reasonable price
The HTC Windows Phone 8S is the first Windows Phone 8 handset to fit into the mid-range price category. As such it's not quite the performer of the high-end Windows Phone 8 devices, but it's not so poor as to make it a bad deal. It offers solid performance and features for a reasonable price. Whether you prefer it to a similarly priced Android phone will depend on your own subjective preference of platform.
When we got our hands on the 8X, we found it to be a worthy flagship, with a good balance of specifications and design. Fortunately for the 8S, much of the design DNA has carried over, which we like. Naturally, the spec sheet differs dramatically, but only as you would expect for a phone aimed at a more mainstream section of the market. Some people might not fancy the sound of a 1GHz dual-core chip or 5-megapixel camera, and these people should indeed look elsewhere.
Affordable & Good camera
You can pick up an HTC 8X for just £180 offline. That's a fantastic price for a phone that looks and feels better than any Android device below £240. When you consider that we're talking about the Google Nexus 4 - an anomalously value-centric device - it just goes to show how great a package the HTC 8S actually is.
There are a few issues though. For starters, stability isn't as good as we'd like and certainly isn't up there with other Windows Phone 8 handsets.
Beats sounds good
The Windows Phone 8S by HTC comes in as an affordable handset for those wanting the Windows Phone experience on a budget. The quirky user experience is delivered here much as it is elsewhere but we can't help feeling, thanks to the specs of the phone, that the 8S isn't too far removed from the previous run of Windows Phone devices.
What you don't get is the additional software that Nokia is pouring into its handsets to boost the offering.
Elegant and compact design
The Samsung Galaxy S III mini is a lovely mainstream smartphone. All of a sudden, the Galaxy S III's nature-inspired design looks and feels right in your hand. The device is easy to hold and operate, while its 4-inch screen is big enough to provide a comfortable and pleasant experience for smartphone users.
We won't really recommend this one if you're a diehard geek who wants the biggest and baddest device possible, but we can certainly recommend it to pretty much everybody else.
Scaled down design, Android Jelly Bean
We really liked the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini. It ticks all the right boxes, and comes in at a very decent price. The truth of the matter is, though, that it's launching right smack bang against the Google phone, the Nexus 4.
Every time we looked at the Galaxy S3 Mini we were impressed. It beats the Nexus 4 in many areas, it has microSD support and a fantastic interface, but the Nexus has the impressive stock Android.
Android 4.1 with Samsung TouchWiz UI
At £270 on a PAYG basis, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini is cheap enough to attract the masses, but for that price, we would certainly recommend looking beyond the alluring branding on the box and target one of the boundary-pushing, specs-impressive offers around the same print point.
This is a truly unlocked international phone, the UI can be set to any language from the long list. It's sad and understandable why Samsung won't sell it in US as it is twice as cheaper than its big brother Galaxy S III. The screen is gorgeous, the phone is very fast and responsive. The size of this baby is perfect for both men and women, unless one prefers all those "bricks" with huge screens. I love this phone!
Low resolution screen compared to original
The Samsung Galaxy S III mini is a downgraded version of the flagship Galaxy S III in both size and power. It will attempt to appeal to those who find flagship Android phones too big to handle but aren't necessarily interested in top-end specifications.
Slim profile, Samsung apps
The Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini looks like a Galaxy S3 but has been stripped of all the things that made that smartphone the T3 smartphone of the year. It doesn't look as nice as an iPhone 4, doesn't have the camera skills of Sony smartphones and has a lesser screen than the Motorola Razr i.
The real killer is that it doesn't cost that much less than a Galaxy S3 which means, once you've seen one, it's hard to accept second best...
Decent battery life and call quality
The Galaxy S3 Mini has a very similar design to the S3, but internally it uses a significantly slower processor. It still delivers a pretty slick user experience thanks to Android Jelly Bean, but the screen and camera aren't on a par with those of the S3. It also seems overpriced, especially as the vastly superior Google Nexus 4 undercuts it by around £60.
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