What do you get when you cross a tablet with a smartphone? Well, the Asus Fonepad, a £179 device at Carphone Warehouse, could be a likely candidate. It is essentially a 3G version of the Google Nexus 7 with two important differences. It runs on an Intel processor (the Intel Atom Z2520 clocked at 1.2GHz) and comes with a microSD card slot. Oh and it can also make phone calls. The rest of the specification includes a 7in 1,280 x 800 pixel display (better than the first Netbook, the Asus Eee PC 700), Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, 1GB of RAM and 16GB onboard storage. Get a Bluetooth keyboard (with a touchpad) with it and you may well be contemplating an interesting alternative to a normal laptop. And we guess it is only matter of time before someone manages to get Windows 8 to run on it. Check out our hands-on preview of the Asus Fonepad here.
Acer CloudMobile S500
If you want a smartphone with a HD display but do not want to pay a hefty price, then have a look at the Acer CloudMobile S500 handset from Expansys. It shares a lot of common points with the Google Nexus 4 or the Samsung Galaxy S3 other than the pixel count. Like these two, it has an 8-megapixel rear camera, 1GB of RAM, NFC and full HD video recording capabilities. It has a smaller screen size, which gives it a higher pixel density and has a microSD card slot. Compared to its two aforementioned rivals though it has a slower dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260a SoC clocked at 1.5GHz, a smaller battery and only 8GB onboard storage. It is still vastly cheaper compared to the Nexus 4 and the S4; At £170, it is almost certainly the best value for money smartphone under £200, especially since it is unlocked. You can check out our review of the Acer CloudMobile S500 smartphone here.
Take the Samsung Galaxy S3, swap the system-on-chip, change the chassis material from cheap plastic to premium brushed aluminium and substitute Android for Windows Phone 8 OS and you get the Samsung Ativ S. Gone is the non-compatible Exynos 4412 SoC and in comes the Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 dual-core SoC clocked at 1.5GHz. The rest of the spec sheet stays the same. A 4.8in 1,280 x 720 pixel Super AMOLED HD display, a rear 8-megapixel camera, 1GB of RAM, a microSD card slot, 16GB onboard storage and much more. At £245, it is cheaper than its contemporary rivals, the Nokia Lumia 820 and the HTC 8X. Note that it doesn’t support 4G though. Check out our review of the Samsung Ativ S Windows Phone 8 handset here.
It is still far more expensive than the LG Optimus 4X HD smartphone (which can be had for £250) but for many the Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone is worth the price difference of £69. Surprisingly, that phone is available from UK supermarket Asda which is fast emerging as one of the best places to grab a SIM free device. The Galaxy S3 packs a quad-core system-on-chip clocked at 1.5GHz, 1GB of RAM, 16GB onboard storage, a microSD card slot, NFC, a 4.8in 1,280 x 720 pixel display, an 8-megapixel camera and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. You can check a review of the Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone here and read “one year on” comparison between the S3 and the S4 for those wondering which one to buy.
This is no ordinary Galaxy S4, this is the model that doesn’t come with 4G functionality but actually packs an octo-core SoC which is deemed more powerful than its Qualcomm counterpart and at £470, far cheaper as well. If you don’t plan to move over to 4G for a foreseeable future, then the cheaper of the two will be a better option. The rest of the specification of Samsung’s finest model is the same with a 5in full HD super AMOLED display, 2GB of RAM, 16GB onboard storage, a microSD card slot, a 13-megapixel rear camera, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and a few more bits and bobs. You can check our review of the Samsung Galaxy S4 here. Note that if you want to buy the LTE version of the smartphone, the cheapest place you will get it from is Play.com for £530.