Catch of the Month: Low End Phones

Here's a quick list of tech-bargins for the month. This month, we're taking a look at low end phones. We'll focus a variety of aspects — locked/unlocked, network bands, operating system and specs. And we'll be looking at a price range of $29 — $100 from the Dick Smith website.

ALCATEL 918 Dual SIM ($98)

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First off the rank is the Alcatel 918 Dual SIM Android 2.3 phone. It sells for a remarkably low $98 at Dick Smith, though, availability may be low after a promotion two months ago selling at $88 ($10 cheaper). You may be able to squeeze the price a little more with the sales person at Dick Smith as online purchase is unavailable for this product. It's important to note that the phone is Dual-SIM with SIM 1 supporting Optus 3G and SIM 2 supporting GSM only. However, the phone will not work with Telstra's NextG network.

The processor on the phone is an adequate 600Mhz and the phone runs smoothly for basic operation. Angry Birds is reported my many to work fine, however, anything with 3D rendering won't work. It also features a basic 3 Megapixel camera, great for quick snaps… but nothing too spectacular. This phone would make a great first smartphone — a basic phone with no frills.

The internal memory is only 170MB. However, a 2GB microSD card is included for expandable storage for your apps and other goodies. There is also quite a bit of Alcatel bloatware pre-installed that can't be removed without rooting. Definitely, a big down side considering its small internal memory. Link2SD is a good program for moving apps across to the SD card.


MOTOROLA XT5 Touch ($99)

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Another phone from Dick Smith, this time a Motorola for $99. This phone looks like a good choice for a first smartphone. It comes pre-installed with Android 2.1 and appears to be upgradable to 2.3. A definite upside is the quad-band 3G for GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 — however, it lacks support for Optus' 2100 Mhz network in Metro areas.

The phone also features a nicer 5 Megapixel camera and has a slightly better battery than the Alcatel. But it's important to note the lack of the Dual SIM functionality. The screen is a 3.2" 320x480 display and also has a 600Mhz procesor, like on the Alcatel.


VIRGIN Nokia C2-01 ($29)

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This is a locked Nokia from Virgin. It looks like a great product for it's price with Optus 3G support. There's nothing too fancy about this phone. Just a regular brick phone that you can use to call, text or update your Facebook status on. The phone supports 850 / 1900 / 2100 bands, but I'm unsure if that's a typo. It seems odd that Virgin would sell a phone that doesn't support its dominant 900Mhz 3G network.


Comparison Table

ALCATEL 918 Dual SIM MOTOROLA XT5 Touch VIRGIN Nokia C2-01
Price $98 Price $99 Price $29
Locked? Unlocked Locked? Unlocked Locked? Virgin
Supports Bands 900/2100 Supporting Bands 850/900/1800/1900 Supporting Bands 850/1900/2100
OS Android 2.3 OS Android 2.1
(Upgrade to 2.3)
OS Symbian
Processor 600Mhz Processor 600Mhz Processor
Notable Features Dual SIM Notable Features Quad-Band support Notable Features 3G for $29

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