Posted on 27th February 2013
MWC is where companies show off their latest and greatest creations, but this year there's also a huge amount of focus on the more affordable smartphones. Of course, with technology rolling ever onward, a budget smartphone can have specs that 18 months ago would have been ground breaking.
Two stands with a similar layout are LG and Nokia. Both have a great collection of high end, premium devices with killer specs and gorgeous designs. But they are also really pushing devices that are easily affordable. In Nokia's corner there are the high end flagships, the Lumias 920 and 820, but also the cheaper variants. From low to high, there's the Nokia Lumia 520, 620 and 720. The great thing about Windows Phone is that the software is very similar across the board, so a Lumia 520 has some great functionality compared to other similar priced Android handsets. The pick of the budget Lumia bunch though has to be the 720. It's like a scaled down Nokia Lumia 920, a little smaller and lighter, easier to handle, and the yellow model we saw had a great high gloss finish. The 4.3" screen was a flagship screen size not long ago, and it's the first unibody Nokia to include a microSD card slot, so storage is not a problem either. Best of all, it has a fantastic 6.7MP camera. There's been a lot of talk about cameras with the launch of the HTC One, and what makes the 720 standout is the F/1.9 lens, the widest of any smartphone, even the Lumia 920. This lets more light enter the camera, allowing for much better low light shots - just chat to anyone who knows a thing or two about cameras.
The LG stand was also packed with devices, from the 5" LG Optimus G Pro right down to the budget LG Optimus L3 II - that's right, the sequel to the Optimus L3. In fact LG had the whole selection of sequels, the L3 II, the L5 II and the L7 II. Without going into too much detail, the lower number gives a slightly cheaper, lower spec phone, right up to the very respectable L7 II, but because technology has moved on so fast, even the lower end model is pretty darn good. The L3 II runs the latest version of Android 4.1 with the latest features from Google, has a 1GHz processor and a crisp and colourful 3.2" touchscreen. We can estimate the battery life will be decent, as it has a slightly larger battery than an iPhone 5, and all in all, it'll be a good starter smartphone.
Really, there are budget phones everywhere you look. Samsung famously produce a phone for almost any budget, but the other insanely popular stand at MWC is the Firefox one. If you've not heard, Mozilla, famous for the Firefox web browser, has put together a strong smartphone operating system, and the first phones running it were finally on display. With pricing around the £100 mark, they come with all the basic features of calling, texting, emailing, web access and camera technologies, and they look just perfect as starter smartphones. At the moment there's no plans for super high end devices, so if you want something with ultimate power, look to the big four of Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry® 10.
So, to summarise, budget phones are big news, and they don't even have budget specs. Once these devices all go on sale later this year, they'll be more choice than there already is. Once you've decided how much you want to spend, it's easy to pick out three or so devices and select the one you like best - and with features so similar, you can even go for the one with the shape or colour you like best. And with super high clarity displays, 5MP+ cameras and 1GHz+ processors now the norm for cheaper handsets, the budget phone gives good value too.
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