December is an excellent month to take advantage of sales on toys, electronics such as TVs, kitchen cookware and more.
Smartphone Speed and Call Quality
Based on the smartphone reviews we read, almost all low-cost smartphones perform well in at least one dimension but come up short in others. In general, smartphone reviews suggest that faster phones with more multimedia capabilities tend to have poor battery life, for example, and simpler phones tend to boast excellent call quality and battery life but don't impress on the media front.
Smartphone Speed.For the most part, smartphone reviews conclude that the models we researched deliver broad functionality without sacrificing speedy performance. Our top four picks all use fast 1.5 GHz dual-core processors and impress reviewers from all corners with the speed at which they can operate. Reviewers on multiple sites make a point to praise the processing power of the HTC Windows Phone 8X (starting at $50 with Verizon; also available from AT&T and T-Mobile, Amazon). A starting at 1 cent with Verizon, Amazon) scored far above average in testing and proved fast and smooth during gameplay. A smartphone review from TechHive claims that the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G (free with T-Mobile, Amazon) also runs graphics-heavy games effortlessly, a mark of a powerful processor. A reviewer at Wired marvels at the speed of the HTC Evo 4G LTE (starting at $50 with Sprint, Amazon).
The Kyocera Rise (free with Sprint, Amazon) uses a much slower 1 GHz single-core processor, and its lack of oomph is apparent at times, reviewers say. One expert from CNET complains that the Rise lags when, for example, launching the camera or switching from landscape to portrait view. The LG Viper 4G LTE (free with Sprint, Amazon), another Sprint phone, has a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor. An Engadget expert notes that the phone switches seamlessly between apps and handles graphics well.
Smartphone Call Quality.A smartphone may be capable of all kinds of tricks, but at the end of the day, it's still a phone. Voices should sound crisp and clear, with little if any background noise, and the volume should be loud enough that you don't have to strain to hear. To some extent, this depends on your cellular provider and the quality of the network in your area, although the best smartphones make the most of marginal conditions.
All of the phones we researched deliver adequate call quality, according to smartphone reviews, although some perform a little better than others. While the Motorola Droid Razr M doesn't have exceptional voice quality, a reviewer from Laptop Mag says calls are free of distortion and the volume is sufficient. An Engadget reviewer praises the call quality on the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G, noting that calls were distortion-free and the phone rendered voices with warm tones and very good clarity.
Media.Today's consumers use their phones not just as communication devices but also as media players. Smartphones are becoming so adept at handling multimedia that you can safely ditch your portable MP3 player altogether. IPhone users have enjoyed first-rate capabilities on their phones for some time, and Android phones are catching up. Windows-based phones also handle media quite well, according to smartphone reviews. All the low-cost phones we mention in this buying guide support a variety of popular audio and video formats, including MP3, ACC, and WMA files.
Nokia Lumia 810 Review
Google Nexus 4 Review
Kyocera Rise Review
Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G Review
HTC Evo 4G LTE Review
HTC Windows Phone 8X Review
Motorola Droid Razr M Review
Samsung Epic 4G
HTC Droid Incredible 2
BlackBerry Curve 3G
Apple iPhone 3GS 8GB
BlackBerry Bold 9780
T-Mobile myTouch 4G
Motorola Droid 2 Global
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