Advertorial feature

Getting on the smartphone ladder

 

Such are these tough economic times, many will be tightening belts and concentrating on the essentials ahead of material acquisition. But with Christmas fast approaching, the annual dilemma of watching the pennies versus satisfying the desires of those nearest and dearest is about to raise its ugly Yuletide head. And for those of you with children this can be a tough time indeed, especially if your brood is collectively piling on the pressure to find under the tree that most desirable of tech trinkets: the smartphone.

However, whilst the media is seemingly always awash with tales of early adopters camping out overnight and splurging the best part of a weekly wage to be first in line for Apple’s latest smartphone effort, there are devices other than the iPhone, and many are not as prohibitively expensive as you might think.

In fact, taking those first steps into the world of the smartphone and leaving behind the clunky, hand-me-down relics that just don’t cut it anymore isn’t the financially draining minefield it’s often portrayed to be. Several major handset manufacturers now produce budget devices that offer a comprehensive smartphone experience at competitive price points. And here are just a few:

Sony Xperia U

Sony is a seasoned campaigner in the world of mobile, although the Japanese company might be more well-known to a smartphone novice as part of its fruitful partnership with Ericsson. Now flying solo having jettisoned the Swedish telecommunications giant, Sony has reinvigorated its Xperia range of devices, releasing high-end phones such as the Xperia S and Xperia T. Not wanting to neglect the mid-range market, the Xperia refresh has also given rise to the Xperia U, a compact Android-powered handset with a stylish design and impressive 3.5-inch screen powered by the same BRAVIA technology featured in the company’s range of high-end television sets. Whilst the Xperia U doesn’t run the latest version of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich is the operating system of choice here), the software and its user interface are easily mastered and the inclusion of a 5 megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording capabilities is perfect for those with a Facebook or YouTube affliction.

Nokia Lumia 610

Mobile stalwarts Nokia recently entered a big money partnership with software giant Microsoft to showcase the often overlooked Windows Phone operating system, the results being a slew of impressive high-end devices that made up the Nokia Lumia range. Whilst the flagship (and suitably expensive) Nokia Lumia 920 may well be grabbing the headlines currently, the Finnish company’s mid-range device, the Lumia 610, is still popular, catering for those wanting to sample the Windows Phone experience without paying through the nose for doing so. Despite being on the shelves for coming up to a year now, and its Windows Phone 7.5 operating system about to be superseded by the forthcoming Windows Phone 8, the Nokia Lumia 610 still offers an inexpensive inroad to Windows Phone and the functionality it offers. Powered by an 800MHz processor and featuring Windows Phone’s innovative Live Tiles user interface, the Lumia 610 presents a user experience that’s a radical departure from that offered by the likes of Android and iOS’ icon-based efforts, and yet still engaging, responsive, and most importantly, centred around you. When you factor in a wealth of social options enabled by Microsoft’s People Hub area (which groups every possible facet of information relating to your contacts in one easy to reach place), the familiar Internet Explorer browser and a more than adequate 5 megapixel camera, the Nokia effort shapes up to be a more than viable route into the world of the smartphone.

HTC Desire C

Small but perfectly formed, the HTC Desire C is another Android handset that offers a premium experience – both in terms of aesthetics and performance – without breaking the bank. HTC has quite a track record in producing good-looking handsets packed full of functionality, and the Desire C is no different featuring HTC’s sturdy construction, a vibrant 3.5-inch display (quite a boon for a handset in this price bracket) and a 5 megapixel camera complimented with a host of social media sharing options making it easy to post your pics for the world to see. As with Sony’s Xperia U, Google’s Android Ice Cream Sandwich is the operating system used, although in this case the mobile platform is overlaid with HTC’s own user interface, the highly stylised yet incredibly intuitive HTC Sense. This brings impressive personalisation options including handy widgets displaying information on pretty much anything (stocks, news, weather, social media updates) which can be placed on one of the many home screens for quick access. Add to this a raft of Google software including Maps, YouTube and Google Messenger and the opportunity to pimp out the device with a multitude of apps from the Google Play app store, and the Desire C is an enticing proposition indeed.

By Dean Quinn, Tech writer at Phones 4u – the go-to retailer for upgrades, top deals and awesome handsets

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Sport
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
News
Not quite what they were expecting
news

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal at the Golden Globes in 2011
film
Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Web Developer/Designer - WordPress, PHP, HTML, CSS, Adobe

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Web Developer/Designer - WordPress, PHP, HTML...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global 3D visualisation compa...

    Ashdown Group: SQL Developer - Derbyshire - £30,000 + £5,000 Car allowance

    £28000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer - Derbyshire, commutab...

    Ashdown Group: SQL Developer - 12 Month Fixed Term Contract - Shrewsbury

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer - 12 Month Fixed Term ...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
    'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

    Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

    Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
    Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

    Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

    New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

    Rebranding Christmas

    More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up