Ten... Androids for under 200 quid
The price is right?
Product Round-up At the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona earlier this year, Google chief Eric Schmidt famously said that he expected Android smartphones to be as cheap as normal phones as soon as 2013. The current sub-£200 Sim-free sweet spot in 2012 means you can expect large screens and a variety of processors. Yet don't expect iPhone 4S Retina display crispness, those large screens inevitably come at a lower resolution.
Still, even cheaper displays are suitably responsive these days and you can expect decent cameras and as standard. A major consideration for touchscreen handsets should be ease-of-use and Android's user interface is maturing into a worthy rival to Apple's iOS. Moreover, manufacturers are free to tweak as they see fit, providing their own interface modifications to differentiate the user experience from vanilla Android instals.
While the most basic Android phones have few enhancements, here the focus is on models in the £100-£200 price range that offer that little bit extra. There are plenty of cheaper Android handsets out there and we'll be looking at the sub-£100 models next month.
Alcatel One Touch Ultra 995
The Ultra 995 offers a massive amount of spec for your money and albeit running Android 2.3, is well-equipped for its promised Android 4.0 upgrade. The 480 x 800 pixel 4.3in screen, 1.4GHz processor and 5Mp camera are all at the top end of expectations for this price tag. Build is impressive too – not the most unique in terms of style but slim (9.7mm) and the Ultra 995 is stuffed with useful pre-installed apps and a 4GB SD card.
The 3D style user interface is clear and works well and the HDMI socket (cable not included) and DLNA functions are a pleasant surprise. Aiming at the Orange Monte Carlo, the Alcatel wins the battle with ease. There’s very little to complain about aside from the lacklustre internal speaker.
Reg Rating 90%
More info Alcatel
HTC Desire C
HTC signed a deal with DropBox this year, so you get 25GB of free on-line storage for two years with the Desire C. It's a pint-sized HTC smartphone and a slicker take on the Galaxy Ace and Galaxy Mini 2. The impressive unibody design is accompanied by a great start-up guide and useful pre-installed apps.
The 5Mp camera produced good results although there’s no flash. The 3.5in 320 x 480 screen suffers in daylight and needs a brightness tweak but it’s forgivable as the only smartphone on test with Android 4.0, as standard, which runs well on the 600MHz processor. Beats music tech is novel rather than impressive and the 4GB storage will need a MicroSD card boost, as the Desire C is a great music player. While ICS on-board is a big bonus, if it weren't for the screen resolution and brightness, the Desire C would have been Ed's Choice.
Reg Rating 90%
More info HTC
Next page: HTC Wildfire S
In phone reviews I'd like to see the battery life measured for each one. Battery life of portable electronics is so important to me. Having gone from a Sony Ericcson P1i (3G, touchscreen with stylus) which gave me over a week to an HTC Desire which would give me a day and a half even when just sitting idle in my jacket. Changing to CyanogenMod extended that to a long weekend. But it's still not good enough.
Battery tech keeps improving but any advantages are negated by useless UI animation, fancy graphics and pointless cruft.
Not a single mention of how much space any of these handsets has for application storage which I'd argue is the most important bit of info to have when buying any Android phone, esp a cheap one.
Re: "The Samsung Galaxy Ace looks remarkably like an iPhone 4."
It's a rectangle with rounded corners and single button. Enough to inflame any manufacturer with insecurity problems
What No Ascend G300 ?
By far the best budget android phone.
Re: System storage???
My HTC desire suffered really badly from the lack of system memory for apps., but by rooting it, and installing a different rom that had better memory management and built in scripts to map SD card space as App storage space then limits on storage space was boosted from 120MB to2GB...
since then have installed CyanogenMod 7.2 rc3 and it works better than ever...