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back to article Ten... Androids for under 200 quid

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 …

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Cyanogen?

It would be good in the future to include availability of a CM ROM for Android phones when reviewing them. ROMs that the phones ship with are usually quite bloated and crippled, with the most useful features such as tethering over WiFi/USB removed from the menus. Having an available CM port (or another suitable rooted lightweight firmware with all tethering features available) is a necessary feature for a lot of Android users.

This would also have a positive effect in encouraging people to use phones made by manufacturers that aren't violating GPL and are providing their kernel source code modifications as they are legally obliged to.

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You really do

You really do get what you pay for don't you!

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Re: You really do

Actually - you don't. Quite the opposite. It is generally the more expensive phones made by big name companies like HTC that are the problem. HTC is one of the most rampant GPL violators. Cheap, lesser branded phones are typically quite well supported.

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Re: You really do

I found the CM ROM to be quite rubbish on my S2. Got rid and went stock again (rooted and got rid of the bloat). I do use a speedmod kernel though.

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Unhappy

No LG? Awww :(

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Anonymous Coward

System storage???

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.

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Paris Hilton

Re: System storage???

Totally agree. My wife had the Wildfire S and while she loved the size, the storage left for apps was tiny. I think there were around 20 apps installed, perhaps less. Even shoving everything onto the SD card wasn't enough. Eventually the thing had to go as there was no space left to complete app updates.

Storage then became a make or break decision in buying the replacement phone so having that info listed here would be useful to potential buyers.

Paris: Shes upset by her own inability to do anything useful too.

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Boffin

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...

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Re: System storage???

Although rooting maybe straight forward for the target audience of this website, 99% of users not even know what rooting is and would never attempt it.

After I passed my Desire to my other half (i got a Galaxy s2 - sooo much better) I was forever looking after it for her; clearing up cache space etc. I don't know what HTC were thinking when they decided on space. It was the reason I left HTC and went to Samsung (2gb for apps, yes please!)

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Devil

Defy MINI retails at 79£ at the moment from amazon, not 150. This firmly puts it on top of the ranking based on its sheer value for the money.

By the way, it is not its screen which is unresponsive, it is the horrid keyboard app. Replace that with Go keyboard or something else which is more sane (and less cluttered) and you have a very nice phone.

I just got Junior one of these to replace the N95 which ended up under the council lawnmower mowing the school playground. IMHO it looks like it has a chance of surviving for the next few months :)

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Anonymous Coward

Defy Mini

£79 from Asda

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Anonymous Coward

info

Does the Sony take microSD cards? I know I can hunt this info down on the web, but the article could have said...

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Re: info

No. Has 2GB built in for apps, and 4GB for media and those apps (most) which are compatible - plus another 2GB reserved for the Android system, but that's not relevant here. However it also supports USB on-the-go for temporarily adding USB sticks or other devices (including keyboards etc) with low power draw.

Whilst broadly on the subject I'd add that the USB support for general file transfer is via MTP rather than mass storage, which is a bit of a pain since support is not universal and older Windows PCs may require PC Companion bloatware to be loaded.

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Re: info

Thank you kindly. The info you supplied is the exactly the sort of thing I like to know about phones and the like, but isn't always clear from manufacturer's spec sheets. It usually means I have to read through reviews, in the hope that the reviewer mentions a particular feature / limitation.

The note about MTP rather than MSC storage is especially welcome, since I plug phones and MP3 players into my cheap car stereo. I seem to recall some story about Android supporting MTP only and Linux users (and others) getting peeved, though I may have got my wires crossed...

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Anonymous Coward

What No Ascend G300 ?

By far the best budget android phone.

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Re: What No Ascend G300 ?

Mosly like due it being under £100 so will be covered in next months article.

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Thumb Down

Not under £100

I wondered if it wasn't included because of the price, but it is exactly £100 (Vodafone; free delivery: http://shop.vodafone.co.uk/shop/mobile-phone/huawei-ascend-g300-payg?icmp=int-vod-paygofr-hero-img) and the article makes quite clear that the phones reviewed here are £100-£200 and "sub £100" will be reviewed later. Hence, it is astonishing it wasn't included, especially as The Register has both previewed and just reveiwed it. Poor article.

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Re: What No Ascend G300 ?

DEFINITELY way better than the measly specs of these £150-£180 phones with 600- and 800-Mhz processors: the G300 has a 1Ghz processor and runs Adobe Flash, almost all of these far more expensive phones can't do that at all.

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Battery

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.

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Re: Battery

Yes I would love them in include battery life too. Not so sure I would want them to just include the standby time, it is a smartphone so I want to do smart things with it if I wanted a phone I would get a dum phone and a week long standby time.

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Re: Battery

The problem with battery life is it can depend a lot on what rubbish is running.

To give an example, my Xperia Mini Pro listening to MP3s (WinAMP), in airplane mode for a seven and a half hour shift at work. If I reboot the phone, unplug it from charger just before I leave to go to work, around 20 mins, I'm looking at around 12-16% battery at the end. [note: this is with little use of the display]

On the other hand, if I run a task-kill on the bullshit (Facebook app, etc, all the rubbish I can't remove that SonyEricsson decided to infest the phone with that runs itself at startup), I can get 25 minutes of 3G browsing during break (reading El Reg, mostly) and my MP3s, and the battery is around 30-35% at the end of shift. [with ~25 minutes of active display]

Something in the default setup is an appalling battery hog. I feel sorry for the less clued users that don't know to kill off unwanted apps (though, I note, two autostart - thanks a lot SE...).

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Re: Battery

> if I run a task-kill on the bullshit (Facebook app, etc,

I seem to remember some story about 3G not being very power efficient for small quantities of data, of the kind that widgets like FB use.

My current dumbphone wastes a lot of power looking for (and failing to find) 3G when I'm in more rural areas- why it thinks that I might need 3G for incoming calls (as opposed to just turning on 3G when I'm actively web browsing etc) is beyond me. Changing the Network Mode to GSM 900 / 1800 helps the battery a lot in such circumstances.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Battery

The 2 key apps to install on this, or I suspect on any 'smart' phone are Curvefish's Wifi toggle and another toggle called APNDROID which switchably hacks the APNs the phone is using to prevent 2g/3g from working except when you want it to. Sorts out battery life a treat!

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WTF?

"The Samsung Galaxy Ace looks remarkably like an iPhone 4."

Have you even actually seen an iPhone 4? With your own eyes I mean, and not someone describing one to you over the telephone.

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Anonymous Coward

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

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404
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HTC Wildfire S

Is a total POS - build quality, reception, overall useability is crap - bought two for my twins, went through five of them before giving up and replacing with the Samsung Stratosphere (solid slider phone).

Wife and I carry the Motorola Droid Razr (which is updating to ICS as I type this - happy days)

;)

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Anonymous Coward

The picture that's supposed to show the HTC Wildfire S actually depicts a HTC Desire S or something very much like that. Definitely no Wildfire S.

Having both a wildfire S and a Desire S in front of me, the differences are quite obvious.

The speaker grill of the Wildfire S is divided in the middle, and the back cover is one piece.

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Anonymous Coward

well spotted

it's the Desire S in the picture...the Wildfire S doesn't have the webcam you can clearly see in the top right corner.

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Stop

It's all well and good looking at newish smartphones for £200 but, if you're willing to be 6 months behind, you can get loads more for your money. Phones 4U sell the Song Ericsson Arc S - a more-than decent ICS phone - for £180. Compared to the Sony equivalent here, there's no competition.

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Stop

It's all well and good looking at newish smartphones for £200 but, if you're willing to be 6 months behind, you can get loads more for your money. Phones 4U sell the Song Ericsson Arc S - a decent spec ICS phone - for £180. Compared to the Sony equivalent here, there's no competition.

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FAIL

Wow What an article

No conclusion, no summary, no actual COMPARISON of phones and features for money. At all. Wow. Did a ten year old write this.

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Re: Wow What an article

Welcome to El Reg reviews.

And no, I've no idea why I read them either.

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WTF?

The 480 x 854 pixel screen feels narrow

What? That's 16:9 near as damn it just like the 720p screens on the One X, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy 3 etc etc.

May look narrow compared to the iPhone's 3:2 but so what? 16:9 is better for video.

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WTF?

Re: The 480 x 854 pixel screen feels narrow

May look narrow compared to the iPhone's 3:2 but so what? 16:9 is better for video.

Video? Since when was suitability for video the primary consideration in choosing a screen size for a phone?

I can think of several reasons to want a fairly narrow screen on a phone -- not least the ease with which any part of the screen can be reached with the thumb of the hand holding the phone -- but video?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The 480 x 854 pixel screen feels narrow

Except people don't use them mainly for video. 3:2 suits a phone or tablet better - 16:9 for your living room.

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Terminator

LG Optimus?

How can you omit the LG Optimus One/Net in this list of cheap phones. with a 600/800 mhz proc and a massive 1500 mah batt, decent 320x480 screen and responsive performance it does offer an exceedingly good value for money.

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Re: LG Optimus?

P690 these are a half price special at the supermarket here in Oz for $50 or 32 GB pounds. Absolute bargain and pulls in a signal in rural areas as well. makes the 200 GB pounds price tag on most of those reviewed seem poor value.

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Trollface

it makes me wonder...

with these android phones, and better ones available arriving daily in this price range, it makes me wonder why a second hand iPhone 3GS still holds a value of £160

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Anonymous Coward

Re: it makes me wonder...

The world is, in the main, populated by thickos.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: it makes me wonder...

>The world is, in the main, populated by thickos.

The intelligent response to being confronted by other people making different choices to yourself is to consider whether they might actually be right, or if that they have different requirements to yourself ["...the intelligent are full of doubt and the ignorant are cocksure" - Bertrand Russell] If, after due consideration, you conclude that their choices won't suit you, then the clever thing to do is to just let them be, or to give them an idea as to why you think your choice might suit them better, in a friendly manner.

Generally, technical aptitude is not the same as intelligence, though thinking that they are the same is usually a sign of stupidity.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: it makes me wonder...

But then, Bertrand Russell was himself was one of CND's useful idiots, wasn't he!

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Trollface

Re: it makes me wonder...

I don't mind a bit. My 2 year old iPhones sell for enough cash to buy my next one. So why worry? I'll take the free upgrades thanks. Seriously, The last two were gone in cash within an hour of them hitting Craigslist.

As to WHY? I don't know. Maybe they actually USED Android before?

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Anonymous Coward

Up-to-date software?

In my opinion, seeing as it's about the best part of a year since ICS was released, any phone running less than 4.0 should be automatically docked 30%.

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Re: Up-to-date software?

why? I purposefully have 2.3.6 on my S2. It is far more stable than 4.0, has better battery life. There are more apps that dont work on 4.0 (or rather have issues) than dont work on 2.3.6.

TBH this is what is killing android - fragmentation. Some companies have a great 4.0 others not so.

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Anonymous Coward

Cant see the arc s on phones 4u or indeed anywhere else for <£200

Anyone know alcatel's record on providing updates -- always v suspicious of "Promised" android updates

Agree totally on wildfire s app storage - virtually nil especially as apps like facebook and maps get ever larger- Had to uninstall everything just to allow enough space for the latest system update to install!

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Orange San Diego

Also consider the Orange San Diego....very good phone for £199 PAYG....big screen and FAST Intel processor....only downside is incompatibility with some games.

http://www.techradar.com/reviews/phones/mobile-phones/orange-san-diego-1082925/review

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Meh

Galaxy ACE

A day and a half battery life on the Galaxy Ace? Unless its switched off and sat in a drawer, no chance. A 2 minute call on mine zaps the battery by around 4%. The best I seem to manage from it is about 2/3's of a day, but that's with pretty much everything switched off. And that is an improvement on the stock rom - which lasted about 3-4hrs. Running Galaxy ICS now and that is better, but still not brilliant. At least its my office phone so its generally plugged in for longer periods to keep it topped up.

If the Defy mini is anything like the Defy, that would be my choice. The 2nd hand defy I've got is really quick, lots of ram/rom to install stuff in, plus its drop proof. And it seems to last for a long time - 3 days with occasional use is the record so far.

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Anonymous Coward

Hands on?

Did the "reviewer" actually spend any hands-on time with these devices? The Alcatel for example has yet to be launched in the UK and a quick Google hasn't turned up anywhere I can buy one. Apparently Expansys will order one for you on demand but that's their line on all product not in stock.

I'm guessing not...or what's the excuse for no benchmark numbers to compare?

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