Top 5 Entry Level Smartphones of 2011By Hanleigh Daniels 12 December 2011 | Categories: feature articles
Huawei IDEOS X5
Huawei's IDEOS X5 smartphone isn't the most exciting Android-running mobile around, but you do get some very nice mid-range specs for its budget pricetag. This includes a large 3.8" (480 x 800) capacitive touch-screen, as well as a 5 MP camera that can record HD-ready videos (720p @ 30fps). It is powered by an 800 MHz Scorpion CPU, ensuring that things run smoothly with the Android 2.2.1 OS. With the X5 it's easy to see why Chinese manufacturer Huawei is fast becoming a smartphone powerhouse.
"It might not be the cheapest budget-conscious Android-powered smartphone available, but its good spec level also reflects that."
HTC Wildfire S
The sturdily constructed HTC Wildfire S impressed thanks to stylish looks. With an ivory coloured cover nicely contrasted by a silver soft-touch plastic finish around the smartphone's edges and camera, it is reminiscent of HTC's Flyer tablet. It also boasts a 3.2" Gorilla Glass touchscreen for extra protection and durability - a really impressive feature on a budget-friendly device. Unfortunately HTC's Sense interface requires some processing oomph, and the 600 MHz Snapdragon MSM7227 CPU were not always able to cut it, resulting in noticeable lag.
"A capable budget performer sporting a great looking design, an excellent interface and specs, but let down by the sluggish processor."
Unlike the Wildfire S, the ChaCha is powered by a 800 MHz processor, which manages to run Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and HTC's updated Sense interface smoothly. Like the Nokia C6, this is a touch-and-type device that sports both a QWERTY keyboard and a 2.6" (480 x 320) touch-screen.
A more exclusive feature of this phone is its Facebook integration, boasting a dedicated Facebook button which, rather counter-intuitively, doesn't take you to your news feed, but rather defaults to a status update field.
"Beyond its obvious Facebook-centric approach, the ChaCha stands alone as an exceptionally attractive, well-built and feature rich device."
Samsung Galaxy Gio
Like its Springbok namesake, Samsung's Gio blast its way past the opposition straight to our number two spot. This little pocket-rocket measures 110.5 x 57.5 x 12.2 mm and weighs in at just 102 g, but it punches above its weight due to the presence of zippy 800 MHz Qualcomm processor. Count in an excellent 3.2" touchscreen with nicely saturated colours, plus the fact that out of all the models here it's also the cheapest (R1999), and the Gio becomes even more appealing. Its unassuming looks might not distinguish it from the budget crowd, but underneath it packed a real punch.
"A well rounded budget offering from Samsung, boasting some great budget features such as a comparatively quick 800 MHz processor and 3 MP snapper."
Samsung Galaxy Ace
Besides the Gio, Samsung held another card up its budget smartphone sleeve - the excellent Galaxy Ace. Like the Gio, it is powered by an 800 MHz processor, but features the ARM 11 as opposed to the Gio's Qualcomm processor. It also operates on a more up-to-date version of Android, namely 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) and boasts a 5 MP auto-focus snapper with LED flash, as compared to the Gio's average 3.15 MP camera. What really sealed the deal was the Ace's slightly bigger frame (112.4 x 59.9 x 11.5 mm) and, more importantly, a larger 3.5" display made from Gorilla Glass. The Ace makes the entry-level smartphone experience a thoroughly enjoyable one. [HD]
"The R2999 pricetag of the Samsung Galaxy Ace comes in slightly higher than that of HTC's Wildfire S (R2888), but the Ace does offer more spec bang for your buck with its faster CPU and added screen real estate."
Read the rest: Top 5 of 2011
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