Just a couple of years ago flagship Android and Windows phones shipped with WVGA displays and single core chips. Last year we had 720p screens and quad-cores, this year we’re looking at even faster chips and 1080p screens. However, although we love good hardware, we don’t like to fall for the hype. The truth is that most 2012 vintage flagships are still excellent devices and they are selling for peanuts, so why not take another look?
If you’re sick and tired of Android fragmentation or Apple’s obscene pricing, HTC has something quite nice. The HTC Windows Phone 8X is selling for as little as €235 on the continent, contract free of course. It has a gorgeous polycarbonate body, a dual-core Krait SoC clocked at 1.5GHz and 1GB of RAM, more than enough to keep WP8 smooth as silk. It also has a decent 8MP camera, 16GB of storage, NFC, 720p screen and Beats Audio. No LTE though.
In case you don’t mind Android fragmentation, or LG’s less than stellar update track record, you might want to take a look at the LG Optimus 4X HD P880. It’s widely available for €249, from Poland to the Atlantic. Powered by a Tegra 3 chip, it boasts 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage bolstered by a microSD slot and a 4.7-inch 720p display. The Optimus 4X never lived up to expectations and it was overshadowed by the Galaxy S3 and HTC One X, but then again it costs just €249.
Sony’s Xperia S and much more interesting Xperia T are selling for about €260 and €270 respectively. Yes, they are pretty cheap but there’s really no compelling reason to go for either of them over the Optimus, although we quite like Sony’s industrial design and if you place an emphasis on aesthetics they are a nice choice.
Now for the heavyweights. The Galaxy S3 still costs about €350, which is no bargain. The HTC One X is going for a few euro less, but again it’s not a very good deal and here is why. The Nexus 4 16GB is priced at €329 and we feel it’s a much better choice than the S3 or One X, both in terms of hardware and software support, which is a pretty big deal when it comes to older gear. It’s not perfect though, it’s a bit short on storage and there’s still no LTE version.
Still, the deal of the day has to go to the HTC 8X and LG Optimus 4X. If you are in the market for a cheap unlocked phone, both are excellent deals as they cost less than many mid-range phones, yet offer much better hardware and, in HTC’s case, excellent build quality.