Android smartphone for £20

For £20 I can buy about two diners at home, 5 beers in a pub or a new DVD. I never thought that I can buy a new smartphone for this much. But this is exactly how much T-Mobile is charging for it’s budget Android offering. I didn’t need a new phone, but considering such a low cost I thought why not to get myself a new toy.

The phone is a branded version of Huawei U8110, sold as Pulse Mini. Yes, it’s pink. Unfortunately only pink colour was available at a time with other being black/grey. But pink is not too bad, it’s more leaning towards reddish hue, looks similar to T-Mobile’s trademark magenta. The specs look quite decent for a budget phone, you get Android 2.1 Eclair running on Qualcomm 528MHz CPU with 256MB RAM, it has all the usual features you would expect, HSDPA, aGPS, Wi-Fi b/g, Bluetooth, 3MP autofocus camera and 2GB microSD card included.

Of course with it being a budget phone, there must be compromises. The biggest one by a wide margin is a resistive screen, it brings back the memories of Windows Mobile 5/6. The plastic on the phone feels a bit flimsy at times and the camera is completely rubbish. I got a feeling that it was put there just for a tick on the specs sheet. But for £20 you can forget a lot. All this issues don’t matter that much at this price point. I would never use it as a primarily phone, but it’s suitable for traveling to use with local SIM or maybe as a GPS tracker when running or cycling.

Access to Android Market is probably one of the biggest strengths of the device. That’s also probably why T-Mobile describes it on the box as “Smartphone with Android Market”. I managed to quickly set up Dropbox to sync files between my MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad and Pulse Mini. Installed RunKeeper Pro to make use of the phone’s GPS for tracking my lengthy bike rides. This would allow me to keep iPhone 4 for something more fun.

But would the Pulse Mini be useful in the long term? Probably not, not for me at least. I can see myself using it occasionally when I need a second phone, but that’s about it. What I think it excels at is being an excellent tech toy that can do so much for so little money.

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