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.
Can capture 1080p HD video
As someone who sporadically uses Facebook, the HTC First has zero appeal to me as a "Facebook phone." I could just as easily download the app and run it on another device. Furthermore, Home isn't impressive enough even for frequent Facebookers to warrant buying a new phone. The HTC First only makes sense for people in the market for a new midrange device.
Minimalist design, Modest price point
Knowing that other smartphones are going to be blessed with the new Facebook Home experience, we can't tell you to go out and buy the HTC First strictly for that experience. Instead, we recommend it most for its affordable $99.99 on-contract cost with its vanilla Android experience (once Facebook Home is disabled) and minimalist design. As for the Facebook aspect of the smartphone, it's decent starting point that undeniably will satisfy those who live and breathe Facebook on a daily basis.
Finally, a 5-inch LTE-capable stock Android phone
The HTC First is a good phone, but not for any of the reasons being highlighted in its marketing. It's compact, durable and has great LTE service from AT&T. It could become the next cult Android device, and might even be the last decent dual-core handset ever made. Sans Facebook Home, it's exactly the type of device we wish we'd see more often.
Quad-band GSM and quad-band 3G support
There is hardly a smartphone, which matches the HTC First's talents completely. The so-called "Facebook phone", despite some of its limitations, is a perfect fit for anyone who thinks that an Android smartphone with a screen larger than 4.5" is going too far. It is therefore, the sidekick, which perfectly complements the HTC One flagship.
Solid mid-range device, jumps out of the spec-race
The HTC First is a mid-range phone at best, and we've made that clear throughout the review. But that's not to say the specs here aren't plenty enough to handle what Facebook Home or stock Android has to throw at it. The HTC First is incredibly snappy, handling most tasks with ease. The cameras need improvement given the social nature of this phone, but they do get by.
This smartphone will especially appeal to the entry-level smartphone buyer whoÃ¢Â? Â?
I think that Nokia made some smart moves with the Lumia 620. It's clearly a smaller, more entry-level handset, but the device-maker hasn't overskimped on features like NFC or the dual-camera setup. An emphasis on color customization and personality should help the Lumia 620 sell in the lower-cost and youth markets, and the $249 price is pretty affordable for the features. In comparison, premium devices like the Lumia 920 sell for around $500 and $600, more than twice the 620's price.
Excellent Nokia apps, built-in Office
The Lumia 620 is a great effort by Nokia all around. It has a standout design that will appeal to many, especially the young, a good (but not perfect) camera for its class supporting 720p HD video capture, and runs on the now more mature Windows Phone 8.
We don't have any major complaints about the phone and that alone is telling. However, as much as we like Nokia's effort in the Lumia 620, it faces competition from some equally capable devices.
Solid smartphone experience
The Lumia 620 is finds itself in a pretty comfortable position right now. It's far from the hunting grounds of the WP8 powerhouses and yet it provides solid smartphone experience, a very decent screen and a design, which while not as sophisticated as that of the Lumia 820 and 920, has more youthful appeal than either of them.
Top-notch hardware design
The Nokia Lumia 620 is a revelation, showing that budget Windows Phone mobiles donâ??t have to be riddled with compromises and lack any semblance of personality. Top-notch hardware design, plenty of power and a feature list that betters many Android phones at the price should make this the gateway drug for many who have been unconvinced by Windows Phone to date. Only the existing shortcomings app library shortcomings of Windows Phone 8 hold this phone back.
Exeeds every expectation
This phone is the best value for your buck. Runs like a charm, Windows Phone 8 is wonderful and it DOES have the quality and quantity of apps, don't fall for the anti Microsoft hype. The vendor shipped it on time and I had no trouble with the delivery. All in all, one of the best buys I have ever made, on anything!!!!!
Compact, powerful enough, good audio and video quality
For anyone looking for the right Windows Phone to buy, we honestly think this is the handset for you. We loved pretty much everything about it - the battery is a concern though - and Windows Phone 8 is a more mature and enjoyable OS than any previous version of Windows on a phone.
While Windows Phone gets some stick it's only when you spend any time using it that you realise it's a complete and competent mobile OS.
Good storage & expansion
If you're after a Windows 8 Phone, the Lumia 620 is a good if not great option. It's affordable but lacks the apps and expansion options of Android. The Office and exclusive Nokia Drive and Music services really need a bigger screen to show their credentials against the new BlackBerry Z10 and iPhone 4S too.
Good performance, Low temperatures, Enhanced sound via DTS
Huawei describes the Ascend G525 as an entry-level smartphone, but the review unit offers more quality than the low-end term would suggest. This starts with the good case: Even though it is only made of plastic, it accommodates the good 4.5-inch display, a 5 megapixels camera with decent picture quality as well as two slots for SIM cards.
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.
Nice looking display for a mid-ranger
Taking into consideration everything we've checked out with the LG Optimus F7, we have to admit that it's a very well rounded contender that's above most other mid-rangers that are out on the market. And to an extent, it can very well hold its ground against some higher-end devices, especially when it's priced to attract at $100 with a 2-year contract.
Decent specs, Well built
The Ascend G330 hasn't been around for long but the Ascend Y300 looks set to usurp it at the bottom of Huawei's smartphone range.
It offers a good array of features for a low-end smartphone and will certainly give the ZTE Blade 3 and LG Optimus L3 2 a run for their low cost money.
No-frills value Android smartphone
The Huawei Ascend Y300 is a no-frills smartphone with little to get excited about in dazzling new features. However, it does the basics well with Android 4.1 software with usable battery life at an incredibly low price. For the money, it's one of the best budget smartphone choices around.
Extreme battery runtime
We reviewed the Y300 thoroughly and applied the same standards we use for high-end devices - despite the fact that the entry level device is four times less expensive than the HTC One, for example. Obviously the Y300 does not want to be the performance king but it is interesting for the user how it handles more demanding tasks and if the retail price of 149 Euros (~$194) is justified.
Icons are crisp, colors are good, viewing angles are okay
The Ascend Y300 is a very capable entry-level smartphone that looks and performs like mid-ranger. With its solid construction, 4-inch IPS display, dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM, 5 megapixel camera and Android Jellybean, Huawei has certainly set a higher standard for their entry-level product line.
Good call quality
If you are looking at purchasing a high-end Android smartphone from Verizon, your choices are currently the Samsung Galaxy S III or the Motorola DROID RAZR HD (and RAZR MAXX HD), as they offer large 720p HD displays, and are using the 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor for fast performance.
The Galaxy S III may look more stylish and "flashy", though its plastic construction does have a cheap feeling to it and doesn't hold up well to abuse.
Strong call quality
The Droid Razr HD is a very good phone. The screen and overall design is very handsome. Its dual-core processor is capable, and it only sips battery power. It's a long lasting, reliable device that still has more than enough power to get the job done.
Being exclusive to Verizon is no handicap either, since the company's 4G LTE service is far-reaching and fast.
There's nothing wrong with the device, except for a mediocre camera. It's just that competition is so stiff.
So, all in all, the Motorola DROID RAZR HD's biggest problem isn't that it's not a solid device. Just the opposite it's an excellent performer that is only bound to get better when the updates start coming in (and when you have Google's word for it, you know they will come in). However, on current merit, it's hard to recommend it over the established players in the game.
Good performance for a dual-core handset
On paper the Razr HD may not look all that tempting given its fairly modest spec. However, in the flesh it's an attractive looking phone that feels more robust than the likes of the Samsung S3. It's got surprisingly good performance for a dual core phone too, along with excellent battery life.
Looks awesome and gives the premium feel you want from a smartphone
The Motorola Razr HD offers superb build quality and battery life along with a nice screen and great battery life. However, its £400 asking price means that it's probably worth spending the extra for a rival flagship smartphone or saving some money by opting for the Google Nexus 4.
Durable and refined smartphone
However, I've talked to many that refuse to touch this phone solely because of those buttons. However, if you can get past that, I would definitely recommend this over the Galaxy S3. Both are certainly great phones, but the Droid RAZR HD feels more refined and professional. At least go try it out at your local Verizon store!
Lovely looking, great screen, decent battery life
So there you have it, we have more faith in Motorola's products than Google CFOs do. While you could argue that the Razr HD isn't a "wow" device, you can't really argue that it's bad, because it isn't. And honestly, we really like its design and feel. It might not be one of the new generation of giaganto-phones that are all the rage now, but it will suit that audience who want smaller devices, with plenty of scope.
Excellent signal strength
The Motorola Droid RAZR HD is, simply put, an excellently built and designed smartphone. It's a pleasure to use, and a solid choice for anyone looking for a good high-end device today.
In fact, the only thing that I could see significantly improving the user experience would be to add more memory and more battery power... which is exactly what the RAZR MAXX HD does. Motorola has a clear hit on its hands here, and for a whole bunch of very good reasons.
Free 50GB Dropbox storage (for 2 years)
Low-end Android smartphones are never perfect, but they aren't really meant to be. Rather, these handsets need to be just good enough to suit the needs of budget-conscious consumers. Does the Samsung Galaxy Fame fit the bill? Well, based on our experience with it we'd say that it's a nice entry-level device that will probably get the attention of the younger crowd and the ladies, in particular.
Difficult texting, Low-res screen
We can see the Samsung Galaxy Fame selling a fair few units, especially given its super low price tag, and we don't see that as a bad thing, given that the majority of users will likely be young, and wanting a way of connecting to Facebook, but for anything more substantial, the handset really struggles.
Attractive design, Decent camera, Affordable price
The Samsung Galaxy Fame is attractive, cheap and has a decent camera. It's let down though by its sluggish processor and lacklustre screen. Unless you're desperate to put a Samsung Galaxy phone in your pocket, you can spend your money more wisely elsewhere.
Good range of Android features, good camera for the price
The Samsung Galaxy Fame comes out just ahead of its nearest rival the Galaxy Young because of its superior camera. But while its processor appeared better on paper, in practise the lack of RAM held it back and the larger screen actually has a slightly lower pixel count. It's a pretty good budget Android, but if you're not fussed about the camera, you might be better to save a few quid and plump for the Young.
Good quality photos, Above average call quality
We believe the Samsung Galaxy Fame is definitely good enough for the needs of average budget-conscious consumers and will probably get the attention of the younger people. It offers a nice solid design, good quality of its photos as well as an attractive feature set. Its low resolution display, occasional performance issues and poor quality video recording, however, should make you think twice before you buy it, but overall, the Fame is a more than decent low-end Android.
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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