Friday, 12 April 2013



Good afternoon, Synapse Circuit Readers! I know times are hard – it doesn’t help that the UK government are making horrendous cuts to the welfare system (yet they are going to spend around £10 million of our taxes on a former PM’s state funeral). It could very be that you are considering a “budget” handset or that you have been targeted by a phone shop or network offering you what seems like a bargain or two... Let’s take a look into the false economy with some budget handsets...


Samsung Galaxy Ace – Best price (at the time of writing) £79.95

HTC Desire C – Best price (at the time of writing) £99.95

Sony Xperia J – Best price (at the time of writing) £149.95

These phones are usually offered at around £10 - £13 a month on contract. But these handsets aren’t worth taking out on contract. Why?

Many reasons...

1. They do not have a good storage capacity! The Galaxy Ace is the worst offender with 158MB of storage! No! The Ace is the ace of crap! Sorry, but it’s true! Followed by the Desire C which has 512MB. The winner is the Xperia J with 4GB of internal storage.

2. The camera on these things is usually bad quality!

3. The battery life can be terrible as is the case with the Galaxy Ace!

4. When you take out a contract you end up paying a lot at the end of a 12 or 24 month contract that exceeds what the phone is worth!

Don’t be fooled by adverts that have you believe the Galaxy Ace is a multimedia handset that allows you to take advantage of many apps because you won’t!

These handsets are usually very sluggish because the CPU is a single core anywhere from 600GHz to 1000GHz. If you have ever been spoiled by a dual core or quad core then you will think you’re back in the Stone Age with their performance. The Xperia J may be the best of the bunch in terms of performance. However, I would not take the Xperia J out on a contract – it is too average.

And because the above handsets are below par I would not suggest that you buy them outright and take out a SIM only contract.

Have you seen the Synapse Android review of the ZTE Blade 3? I think it is a good handset for the asking price £69.99 at Virgin Media. It’ll cost you £15 to have it unlocked if you wanted to take advantage of other networks. I think it is still worth it!

Again, the Motorola RAZRi is of tremendous value if you can get it on contract for £15! The handset is worth around £320!

Here’s the rub... When you pay around £10 to £15 on a contract you will not get many minutes, text or data. You can get around this in a few ways...

1. Take advantage of free Wi-Fi. I would avoid making purchases on free Wi-Fi services as it can compromise your personal details that include credit card information.

2. You can use free calling apps such as LINE and Viber. But be aware that when you are on the move calling and texting with these apps does use data! You can, via your handset settings, place a data usage notification that tells you when you are close to using up your data. Some networks put a block on your data usage to stop you going over! You should ask your network provider to put you on an option to stop you accumulating costs by continual data, text and call usage.

3. If you keep talk and texting to a minimal when you’re out on the move you can use your home Wi-Fi for calling, texting, browsing the Internet, YouTube and so on.

Even the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini represents good value if you can get it for £15 a month! If you have read my Retro-Review blog on the Motorola RAZRi then you will know why I think it is ultimately better than the S3 Mini!

On contract the RAZRi is, so far, the best handset going for £15 to £17 a month. And if you wanted to purchase a handset outright and get a SIM only deal the ZTE Blade 3 is worth a look.

The Sony Xperia J is priced a little high for what it is... But bear in mind that it does have a front-facing camera for video calls. But if you are going to actually spend money on a handset you are still better off with the RAZRi on contract!

I would not advise anyone to take out a contract on a handset that costs below around the £60 - £170 price range. It doesn’t make economical sense. I also wouldn’t advise anyone to purchase a handset outright that costs between £99 and £170. You’ll be better off with a £15 - £17 contract because you’d have a better handset to show for it.

Thank you for reading!

And please, do not get caught out on “budget” deals that seem good when being sold to but on closer inspection the handset is a piece of crap! This is the downside of the Android economy if you are expecting speed and power for cheap! If you can put up with apps lagging, poor camera, limited storage and poor battery life then just maybe... ...just maybe you’ll be able to live with it.

The ZTE Blade 3 is the one stand out exception! Yes, it is a little laggy... Yes, the surfing the Internet can be a little frustrating because the CPU and RAM can’t handle multimedia intensive sites very well. But it has great storage capacity (for the price); the 5MP camera is quite good (see the Synapse Android review on YouTube or on the Synapse Circuit website) and there is space for external storage via microSD card. It’s quite powerful when taking the cost into consideration. It plays YouTube video very well on a 3G connection and it is near flawless over Wi-Fi.

Please check out the Synapse Circuit website for video, i-PDF and more! 

Synapse Circuit Dot Com

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