Friday, 1 March 2013


Three of the best smartphones on the market for £15 a month or under. Ok, the HTC is not the smartest...

Good afternoon, Synapse Circuit Readers... The MWC is over! Did you see anything you like? Hmmmm... It was good to see that Samsung received a lot of awards! It’s hardly surprising! Well done, Samsung!

Yes, yes, yes! It’s 13 more days before we find out what the Galaxy SIV is all about! I think for the first time the MWC has been overshadowed by the anticipation of one handset. Wow! Once upon a time the world was waiting for the latest iPhone news... Today nobody cares! It’s all about the Galaxy S4 and what will it have to make it outstanding over the HTC One and Sony Xperia Z? I wanna know NOW!!!!! Lol!

Let’s focus on the subject matter of this blog: Smartphone should equal smartmoney! A friend of mine was fed up with not being able to store many applications on her Samsung Galaxy Ace. Yesterday she asked me, “What’s the best cheapest PAYG handset on the market?” And this is what I had to say...

If you have let’s say £99 to spend on a PAYG handset you will almost certainly end up with a low-end handset that will leave you short – yet again – on storage capacity for your apps. Instead you are better off with a phone on contract. Why? Let’s do the math...

£99 divided by 12 = £8.25. So, effectively you have bought a cheap phone with questionable speed and storage capacity. Plus if you top up your credit each month you can spend an additional £120. Altogether you have spent £220. You can so easily be spending more: £10 here, another £5 there and so on.

You would be much better off with a free handset from anything from £10 to £15 a month! I would say spend £15 a month because that way you will get a reasonable amount of calls, text and Internet. The Internet will most likely be 500MB. Now, 500MB of data is not a huge amount. However, if you have broadband Internet at home you can use the WiFi and thus take advantage of apps that will give you free calls and texting! Unless you find yourself outside your home more than in the £15 a month contract will be great benefit to you.

Obviously, if you are very sociable you would want more talk time and a larger Internet capacity – preferably unlimited data! That’s when it is worth paying over £30 a month!

I think there are at least 3 decent handsets that could be good for you.

HTC Desire C
I have seen this for as little as £7.50 a month. Here’s the crucial part of the Desire C:

Capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
320 x 480 pixels, 3.5 inches (~165 ppi pixel density)

The display is ok; you might even prefer a smaller screen. It’s not the best screen in the world. Now let’s move on to the memory and storage...

microSD, up to 32 GB
Internal 4 GB storage, 512 MB RAM

The internal storage of 4 GB will probably work out to around 2 GB which should give you enough space for the essential apps: WhatsApp; LINE; Skype; Facebook; Gmail; YouTube and so on. The 512 MB RAM means that you will not be able to have multiple apps running at the same time, which is not a big deal.

Android OS, v4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), not upgradable to v4.1 (Jelly Bean)
CPU 600 MHz Cortex-A5

You will get Android Ice Cream Sandwich which is a very capable version of Android. You can’t upgrade to Jelly Bean, 4.1 to 4.2. This is not very crucial.

The speed of the CPU is quite slow and this could mean that certain games and / or video playback will not be very smooth. Web surfing is bound to be a sluggish experience.

If you can live with slower speeds then this handset could be for you.

Oh, the camera isn’t going to be up to much. It has no flash! It’ll be good enough for your Facebook pictures.

It retails at around £90.

The best handsets for £15 a month are:

The Samsung Galaxy Mini

Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
480 x 800 pixels, 4.0 inches (~233 ppi pixel density)

As you can see, the screen size and quality of the screen is so much better!

microSD, up to 32 GB
Internal 8 or 16 GB, 1 GB RAM

You’d most likely see that it is the 8 GB version going at £15 per month; that should give you a lot of space for your apps! That’ll probably work out to around 5 GB for your apps. The 1 GB RAM should enable you to multitask and view multimedia smoothly i.e. the video won’t stutter.

Android OS, v4.1 (Jelly Bean)
CPU 1 GHz dual core Cortex-A9

The operating system is excellent, Android 4.1, Jelly Bean. I don’t know if it will be able to update to Jelly Bean 4.2 and beyond. That said, 4.1 is superb to work with! The 1 GHz dual core CPU makes the SIII Mini very smooth and fast to interface with.

The camera is 5MP like the HTC Desire C but it has a flash and it can take HD footage up to 720p! SIM free it retails at around £289.95. Cool! And now for...

Motorola RAZRi
I ‘Retro-Reviewed’ this last week... Here are the essentials:

Super AMOLED Advanced capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size    540 x 960 pixels, 4.3 inches (~256 ppi pixel density)
Corning Gorilla Glass

That’s even better than the Galaxy SIII Mini!

microSD, up to 32 GB
Internal 8 GB (5 GB user available), 1 GB RAM

That’s pretty good going! Great capacity for your apps!

Android OS, v4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), upgradable to v4.1.2 (Jelly Bean)
CPU 2 GHz Intel Atom

Again, this is better than the Galaxy SIII Mini. Sure, it may not have the latest operating system but an upgrade is due. However, I can tell you that Android version 4, Ice Cream Sandwich is brilliant to work with!

The 2 GHz Intel CPU is very, very fast! It is amazing! Web sites download fast and video playback is very smooth!

The camera is the best with 8MP, flash and full HD 1080p video recording.

You have to check out the various phone shops for the best deals. Do not be afraid to ask your network provider for deals based on your customer loyalty. If you can get the RAZRi for £15 that would be simply an awesome deal! It retails at around £319.95 SIM free.

You get a much better handset when you elect to pay £15 for a 24 month contract. Take that cash that you had intended on spending on a PAYG (let's say that's £100), place it in your bank account and set-up a direct debit for your new handset. Provided that you don't touch the money you have already paid off the most part of the year. If you can - for the sake of piece of mind - put the full £180 in the account so at least you know you have one year paid off already! You know that you're going to find the other £180 next year!

So, that's £360 for the 24 month duration and you really have paid just for the calls, texts and Internet usage. Looking at it another way, you have paid £40 for the handset. Nothing is ever truly free! Lol! But if you had bought yourself a cheap PAYG handset you'll likely have no room for your essential apps; a less than average camera and furthermore the handset materials aren't made of quality i.e. the screen is small and the resolution is enough to give you eye strain! Don't do it!

External memory is a great option to store you pictures, video, etc. Use your internal memory for your apps.

Do not let the sales person talk you into anything you do not wish to commit to. He or she will try to tempt you into getting more call minutes, texts and data (the Internet); that’s their job. You should benefit with the extra call time, texts and data if that’s what you want and the sales person will benefit from a higher commission. If you have already worked out your budget then do not be moved.

These sales people would talk over your head if you let them. If you walk into a phone shop unprepared you will do one of two things:

1. Walk out in frustration. 

2. Walk out with a more expensive handset and pay more monthly than you had budgeted for.

In an ideal world sales people would talk with you. That's sales people for you.

Thank you for reading!

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