Black Friday bargains
Black Friday and Cyber Monday/week is the time of year when there are huge sales annually in the United States. This year, we picked up two brand-new, pre-paid Android phones for only $49.98 at Best Buy and, we wanted to see how they stood up.
Disclaimer: These phones are carrier specific. If you’re thinking of getting one of them, make sure to be aware of their carrier limitations.
Before we start, we would like to establish a baseline which we can use to compare with each. For this baseline, we’re going to use the original Motorola Moto G.
Motorola Moto G GPe (2013)
The 4.5 inch Moto G is powered by a Snapdragon 400 SoC and has 1GB of RAM. If you can catch a Verizon or a Boost Mobile sale, you can get the Moto G for as low as $50. For our review, we’re going to use the Google Play Editions Moto G which has 16GB if internal storage. We purchased this phone for $200.
The AnTuTu benchmarking app was used for testing.
- Average score of 17,178 while running on Android 4.4.4 KitKat.
- Average score of 18,392 while running on Android 5.0.1 Lollipop.
The phones we will be comparing to the Moto G are a Boost Mobile LG Realm and the Virgin Mobile HTC Desire 510.
- Processor: Snapdragon 200 powered device, 1 GB of RAM. Adreno 305 clocked at 400mHz.
- Storage: 4 GB of internal storage.
- MicroSD slot allows you to increase storage capacity.
- Display: 4.5 inch screen with 460 x 800 resolution, 240 dpi.
- Software: Uses Android 4.4.2 Kitkat. Includes LG apps and functions such as KnockOn, Q Slide and Guest Mode. Software package is good with minimal bloat an no real need to download extra productivity apps.
- Navigation buttons can be a bit tricky. The back button and menu/recent buttons are responsive but the Home button needs a lot of force applied to activate. The menu/recent button allow you to access the menu with a single tap, but to activate the recents list requires you to tap then hold.
- Camera: 5MP rear shooter with a single LED flash. Decent camera with the LED flash adding a well-balanced white light. Good focus especially on extreme close-ups. Unfortunately has slow capture speeds.
- Speaker: Small slot located on the back. Offers nice loud volume. Voices are crip and clear. Music played in the external speaker can sound tinny but the audio output through the headphone jack is very good.
- Battery: Removable battery. Battery life comparable to Moto G, getting 3 hours of screen-on usage and surviving a 16 hour day with 25 percent remaining.
- No access to SIM card.
- A solid device that is unfortunately slippery. It survives falls well though so buying it a case should help it last long.
- AnTuTu score: 13,801
The LG Realm is exclusive to Boost Mobile with a regular selling price of $79.99. If you wait for a Black Friday sale, you could get it for just around $19.99.
HTC Desire 510
We have been anticipating the release of the HTC Desire 510 for several months now, since we learned that it would be one of HTC’s first 64-bit devices to be released commercially. Now that we got the chance to try it out, we can say that it initially seemed very good.
Unfortunately, the Virgin Mobile version of the HTC Desire 510 did not come with the 64-bit Snapdragon 410 SoC, instead it has the same processor as the Moto G (2013), a 32-bit Snapdragon 400.
- Processor: Snapdragon 400 with 1 GM of Ram and the Adreno 305 GPU clocked at 450mHz.
- Storage: 4 GB internal storage with a microSD slot.
- Display: 4.7 inch screen with 480 x 854 resolution, 240 dpi. The viewing angles are bad. Viewed straight in portrait orientation, or when twisting side to side, the display is okay, but if you tilt it up even slightly the display is washed out, while tilting it down results in to going dark. Especially bad in landscape orientation.
- Software: Uses an Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Includes a lot of HTC software which can be useful but can also bloat the OC.
- Nice feeling and responsive buttons but the phone is designed to only be comfortable used when held in the portrait orientation.
- Camera: 5MP camera at the rear. Slow to focus with a limited focal distance range. Quick to capture images, snapping and saving almost immediately
- Speaker: Speaker grill placed at the bottom. Uses jacked up bass. Mid tones can be week, especially voices. Best sounds are produced by holding the device in the air with the display facing you.
- Battery: Removable battery. 2,600 mAh, but the one we had was marked as a 2,100 mAh. Battery power is great with the display turned off but, when it’s on, the large panel uses up to 40% per hour of energy.
- Removable back allows access to micro SIM
- Solid and comfortable phone but not as well built as LG Realm, the HTC produces some creaking noises when the basic twist test is performed. A soft rubbery coating on the back cover helps keep your grip.
- AnTuTu scores: 17,974. This is higher than the Moto G on Andorid 4.4.4.
While the performance of the HTC Desire 510 is on par with the Moto G, the problems with the display are a serious concern.
If being able to hold your phone in the landscape orientation isn’t that much of a problem for you, consider the Mobile HTC Desire 510 exclusive to Virgin Mobile. This phone’s regular price is $99, but the one we got during Black Friday was $29.99.
To test the phones, we initially configured all three as similarly as possible and used them equality throughout the day. After a week we then changed each configuration to best utilize each specific phone’s strengths and weaknesses.
What we found was:
- The HTC Desire 510 suffers from occasionally sketchy GPS performance and can be hard on the eyes. It is however, a good secondary device to handle gaming (if kept on portrait orientation, video capture and communication tasks.
- The LG Realm is a capable media player that provides good sound quality when hooked up to a sound system.
One last important thing to consider when thinking about purchasing either the HTC Desire 510 or the LG Realm is who your service carrier is. If you are already a customer with Virgin Mobile or Boost Mobile, the LG Realm and HTC Desire 510, are capable entry level devices. If you manage to get them during Black Friday, they are a steal.
If, however, you are not with either of these carriers and are a new customer, you’re going to have to pay full price for these devices. In this case, you’re better off looking for better phones even if the prices are higher – scuh as the Moto G.
What do you think; would one of these low priced Android smartphones work for you?