This is a guest post by Simon. He writes on behalf of Best Mobile Contracts, the leading phone comparison website in the UK. If you would like to write for TheDolt’s Blog, do read our page Be My Guest; Write A Guest Post.
With the rising popularity of smartphones in recent years there has become an abundance of do-everything mobile devices with the added benefit that it is now easier than ever to pick up a phone to perform all of your web browsing, photography and entertainment needs at a low price. You need not pick up the very latest iPhone or Android device to be enjoying these features, as what was once reserved for the wealthy has now come within everyone’s grasp on the current crop of mid-range smartphones. So what are the best that are currently on offer?
1. Samsung Galaxy Ace
One of the many Samsung Galaxy phones that has caused no small amount of annoyance to Steve Jobs and his sycophants, and also one of the many devices that may possibly be pulled from sale in various markets along with the Galaxy Tab. It is probably easier to see Apples annoyance when it comes to the Galaxy Ace than it is with any of the other Samsung devices currently on trial as it does have a very iPhone-4-esque feel to it.
It has the squared shape and rectilinear external antenna as well as the offending TouchWiz interface. The Ace runs on Android Froyo although a Gingerbread update is in the works. The Galaxy Ace still offers some of the better features of the top range Galaxy SII, such as DLNA Wi-Fi sharing with the AllShare app and excellent entertainment features up its sleeve. It also has one of the best cameras to be found on a phone of this price range, although the 5 megapixel snapper is limited to just VGA video recording.
The Ace has a 3.5 inch screen and is fairly similar in size to the one on the iPhone 4. While the screen is not quite as high quality as the one found on the Apple phone it does offer a great deal of detail. The Ace has a number of other benefits too, including support for 32GB expandable memory with microSD cards, with a 2GB card included, and some excellent music and video support. The Galaxy Ace can be picked up for as little as £150.
2. LG Optimus Hub
The Optimus Hub has all the trappings of a high end Android device but comes in at a much more delightful price tag thanks to some scaled down hardware components. Even though it is cheaper than top Android devices such as the Galaxy SII and Sensation it still manages to possess all of the features you would want in a smartphone.
In fact, the Optimus Hub can pretty much be thought of as LG’s version of the Galaxy Ace. The two phones are pretty evenly matched in terms of hardware and software features, although the Optimus Hub is a little bit cheaper in the price department. 3G, DLNA Wi-Fi and fantastic multimedia options are all on offer and the Optimus benefits from coming with Gingerbread Android out of the box, unlike the Ace which requires an upgrade.
Like the Ace, the Optimus Hub has a 3.5 inch screen and so is a much more pocketable phone than some of the larger 4 inch Androids on the market. The Optimus Hub has a 5 megapixel camera with VGA video too, as well as support for 32GB microSD cards with a 2GB card included. The Optimus Hub can be obtained for as little as £150.
3. BlackBerry Curve 9360 <
BlackBerry devices have always been popular for their messaging features and the Curve has always been a particularly strong range from BlackBerry. BlackBerry devices are becoming increasingly popular with younger generations thanks to BlackBerry Messenger, instead of the traditional professional business clientele that RIM attracted during the last decade. Because of this the Curve phones are becoming even more popular due to their lower price tag compared to more expensive BlackBerry Bold phones.
The Curve 9360 is the latest in this series from RIM and the first Curve phone to come with OS7. The new operating system packs in plenty of new updates to web browsing and entertainment bringing it into line with competing Android and iPhone devices. Of course, it has all the usual goodies such as BlackBerry Messenger and BlackBerry App World, but is much more enjoyable to use than earlier phones in the Curve series.
In the hardware department the Curve 9360 has had a bit of an upgrade from earlier models in the series. It comes with a pretty nippy 800MHz processor which puts the new OS to good use, and has a much improved 5 megapixel camera with VGA video support. As well as having support for 32GB microSD cards the Curve 9360 is the first BlackBerry Curve to come with Near Field Communications support. Much of the physical design remains the same, including the 2.5 inch screen, although the Curve 9360 has received a major improvement in its screen resolution.
The Curve 9360 is one of the more expensive phones on this list and will cost about £350 without contract.
4. Samsung Wave M
The Samsung Wave range of smartphones pack in all of the same excellent hardware that is to be found in the more expensive Galaxy range, but includes the much more cost effective operating system Bada instead of Android. This still uses the same TouchWiz interface that is found on Samsung Galaxy Android phones, and to many ordinary people there will not be much in the way of difference aside from the price.
While it does not come with Android Market it does still benefit from Samsung Apps, which provides many of the same features anyway. The Wave M has a pretty decent 5 megapixel camera with VGA video, excellent web browsing and entertainment features and is one of the first Samsung phones to feature the Samsung ChatON messaging service (Samsung’s answer to BlackBerry Messenger, but unlike BBM can be used on any phone platform).
The Wave M has a 3.65 inch screen and a fairly similar physical design to the Galaxy SII, albeit at a smaller size. The Wave M is powered by an 800MHz processor which is more than enough to power the less demanding Bada operating system. Like some of the other phones here, the Wave M comes with a 2GB microSD card and can support up to 32GB of expandable memory.
The Wave M should be available for as little as £150 when it is released.
5. HTC Wildfire S
Another Android phone, this time from HTC. The Wildfire S is the follow up to 2010’s Wildfire and can be picked up for as little as £150. The Wildfire S is a bit like a miniature Desire S, as it comes with many similar features and the distinctive HTC look. The Wildfire S is slightly smaller than the original and has a few changes including a faster 600MHz processor, sharper screen resolution and, like the Desire S, it does away with the earlier optical trackpad.
The Wildfire S runs on Android Gingerbread and comes with the highly popular HTC Sense UI. Because of this it has plenty of social networking prowess with Facebook, Twitter and HTC Friend Stream, and plenty of entertainment on offer through Android Market.
Like all the phones on this list the Wildfire S has a 5 megapixel camera with VGA video support, with an LED flash included. 32GB microSD support is on offer with 2GB thrown in with the deal. The Wildfire S has great connectivity through 3G and Wi-Fi so it is excellent for all sorts of online endeavours, and is also particularly noteworthy for its excellent battery life.
Bonus 6th: iPhone 4S
Now confirmed and released , many people had speculated that Apple would not just be releasing the iPhone 5 on contract this October but will also be releasing smaller and cheaper iPhone 4S deals. Rather than being a completely new model the iPhone 4S will be a slight redesign of the existing iPhone 4, with some stripped down features to make the phone more appealing to the budget section of the market.
The design is fairly similar to the physical design of the iPhone 4. Although the iPhone 4’s technology is now over a year old the 4S may still still doesn’t fail to wow users.
The iPhone 4S comes with an extremely fast A5 processor and memory, a 1GHz dual core processor and 1GB RAM. An 8 megapixel camera with full HD or 1080p video recording is there keeping with the rest of the phones on this list and a front camera to allow for FaceTime use.
Apple have always positioned their phones as premium products and status symbols, with very high prices to reflect this. Sales growth in the upper echelons of the mobile phone world are starting to wane, and Apple has, as we saw yesterday, been eyeing up the more affordable section of the market. The new iPhone 4S may allow even more people to live the iPhone dream, as it were.
The iPhone 4S is a little bit cheaper than the iPhone 4, which is still around £400. The real savings with the iPhone 4S will come via much cheaper monthly contracts than are available with current models.