Feeds

Ten... budget Android smartphones

Low-cost handsets for the hard up

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Product Round-up In barely two years, Google's Android operating system has established itself as a serious contender in the smartphone biz. It's different from Apple's iOS not just in its open source nature, but also in its use for both high-end premium handsets like Samsung’s Galaxy S and HTC’s Desire HD, but also in a raft of budget devices, effectively make the smartphone a handset choice for just about everyone.

There's a feast of social networking, games and other goodies available from the ever-growing Android Market, all of which are compatible with all Android phones, high and low. And better budget versions even come with high-end aspirations, such as HSDPA 3G network connectivity, Wi-Fi and GPS.

If lower end Androids generally seem to be keeping their end up in terms of specs, the corner cutting tends to show in usability issues. Slower processors start to struggle with just a few apps running, casings can feel a bit too cheap in some cases, and screens aren’t of the first water.

Considering that many of these can be half, or even down to a quarter of the price of the high spec Androids, they definitely tend to punch way above their weight. So here, in alphabetical order, are the budget Android smartphones most worthy of your attention.

Acer beTouch e130

RH Numbers

Budget computer brand Acer's recent move into smartphones has been honourable if not exactly stellar, covering the basics without really nudging ahead of the pack. The Android 1.6-packing e130 bears a passing resemblance to a BlackBerry or Nokia's E-series with its Qwerty keyboard, though it feels a little clunkier and less classy than either. The 2.6in screen is touch-sensitive but resistive rather than capacitive, so it's not the most fingertip friendly, but it does offer an additional navigation tool, which comes in handy, particularly when browsing.

The keyboard is nicely tactile, made of rubberised plastic and the rounded keys are easy to find under the thumbs, though its budget shows in the use of a trackball rather than the optical trackpad featured on higher end Androids and recent BlackBerrys.

The processor is clocked at 416MHz which means it tends to be on the slow side, though its 3.2Mp camera is one of the better cheapie Android snappers.

Acer beTouch e130

acer logoReg Rating 65
Price £180
More Info Acer

Alcatel OT-980

RH Numbers

It’s a chunky handful weighing 160g but then it does have a slide-out Qwerty keyboard and bears a passing resemblance to the Blackberry Torch. Its 35 keys feel a wee bit cramped and could have done with a little more definition, but it’s still preferable to using an on-screen keyboard.

The 2.8in touchscreen is resistive, rather than capacitive, which is never good, and it’s a shame you don’t seem to be able to use the navpad to navigate around menus or web pages, which seems like a trick missed.

It’s not missing anything important, sporting Wi-Fi, HSDPA and even GPS. Its Android 2.1 installation is only a shade behind the cutting edge, and while the camera’s only 2Mp with no flash, it’s serviceable enough.

Alcatel OT-980

alcatel logoReg Rating 70
Price £100
More Info Alcatel

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Next page: HTC Wildfire

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.