While most consumers are now familiar with some flagship–and high-end–Android smartphones fro major carriers, there are still a few budget handsets that surprise us based on the features that they pack at the price that they target. The last of such handset was the LG Optimus One, with variants such as the Sprint Optimus S and the Virgin Mobile Optimus V. Now, the latest contender is the Huawei Ascend II.
Priced as low as $129 through a limited-time promotion through regional carrier Cricket, the handset’s asking price is one that’s contract-free, which is cheaper than some handsets cost on a two-year (or three-year in Canada) contract.
With the Ascend II, you’ll be treated with Android 2.3 Gingerbread out of the box, 3.5-inch display, a 600 MHz processor, and a 5-megapixel camera. While the 600 MHz CPU seems paltry when high-end users are salivating on today’s dual-core and tomorrow’s quad-core mobile processors, the same clock speed was employed on the LG Optimus One and we found that handset to be zippy and fluid in daily operation.
Compared to $200-$300 3G and 4G Android smartphones from big-name carriers that require a lengthy contract, the Ascend II may appeal to those who don’t want to sign up for a contract, don’t need the high-end features, or are new to the smartphone space.
While the high-end smartphone market in the U.S. is becoming saturated with big names like Droid, EVO, and and Galaxy, there is still the entry-level market that has thus far been too weak to compete or too pricey to be worth it. Huawei’s Ascend II represents a solid entry into this segment at a very palatable and wallet-warming $180 asking price sans contract, or $130 through an instant $50 discount.