Budget Smartphones – It’s Not All About Android

Nokia Lumia 620

It’s continuing to be an intense battle in the smartphone market but despite increasing competition a recent report has revealed that Android continues to lead the way.

The study by IT research and advisory company Gartner reports that Android captures 75% of smartphone sales, with figures showing that Google’s operating system is still dominating the market.

And, with the impending release of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, Sony Xperia M and the rumoured HTC One Mini, it’s clear that Google’s Android mobile platform has the monopoly when it comes to offering consumers a variety of different pay as you go and contract phones to suit all budgets.

Yet despite Google’s dominance there are some great alternatives available, here we take a look at the contenders…

BlackBerry Q5

Although BlackBerry’s hold on the smartphone market has slipped in recent months, grabbing only 3% of sales during the first quarter of 2013, the phone maker is doing everything it can to regain its former glory years by producing a range of devices to appeal to every consumer.

Unveiled at the BlackBerry Live conference in Orlando on 14 May, the low-cost Q5 is set to be the Canadian firm’s first budget device running on the BlackBerry 10 platform.

The handset’s physical keypad is combined with a slick design to create an affordable low-end sibling to BlackBerry’s premium QWERTY flagship, the Q10.

Although it’s positioned lower than the Q10, the Q5 houses some impressive specs, which include a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, a 5 megapixel camera and a 3.1-inch 720p display.

There also won’t be any waiting around for apps to be transitioned over to the new device as those available on the Q10 will immediately work on the Q5.

The Q5 is said to be a replacement for the BlackBerry Curve series of devices thanks to its QWERTY keyboard-packing form, specifically built for people who are message centric and do a lot of typing. According to Chris Umiastowski, of BlackBerry fan site CrackBerry, the firm is rebuilding its entire brand around the concept of getting things done, whether this is purely social or business.

Expected to be released sometime in July, the Q5 may be dubbed as an affordable model, but it shares a lot of hardware and features with its high-end sibling.

Nokia Lumia 620

Poor sales and a lack of public recognition has meant that things haven’t quite panned out as Microsoft expected, when they first launched their new platform in 2010 with Windows Phone 7.

But with the release of handsets like the Lumia 620, Microsoft has seen a turnaround this year with its Windows Phone software coming in third behind Android and iOS which stand as the top mobile platforms.

Released at the end of January, the Lumia 620 houses a 3.8-inch LCD touchscreen, 1GHz dual-core processor, a 5 megapixel camera and operates on the Windows Phone 8 platform, which feels luxurious in what is a beautifully designed budget handset.

Windows Phone 8 adds features and flexibility not seen in the previous Windows Phone 7 OS, although the basic structure of a scrolling homescreen populated with LiveTiles hasn’t changed.

The monoblock form factor comes in a variety of coloured plastic and is carefully styled to emulate top range of Lumias such as the 920. Despite being an affordable package, the Lumia 620 is loaded with extras like NFC and Nokia’s Music, Maps and Drive features.

Although the bright colours are likely to appeal to a younger market, the Lumia 620 is an attractive and brilliant budget Windows Phone device for any kind of user.

Verdict

It could be argued that with many mobile phone retailers offering free iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4 handsets as part of their contract deals, there really isn’t any need for budget smartphones, but not everyone is interested in the latest spec-heavy high-end offerings.

Mid-range handsets take the best elements of their premium siblings and condense them into a more affordable package so that potential consumers can enjoy a smartphone experience regardless of their budget – just remember, it’s not all about Android.

About the author: Stefanie Keeling

Stefanie Keeling writes for Phones 4u – home of the latest mobile phone contracts and deals.

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