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I don't consider $310 'cheap' or 'mindblowing'.

It's about half what it's nearest competitor costs without a contract.

I'm currently shopping for a new phone, as my Nexus One keeps shutting off at random and a new battery didn't fix it. Since I don't want a contract, I'll be paying full price...I would love to buy this phone instead of a Nexus S or Galaxy S or other recent HTC phones. I'm limiting myself to phones that are easily rooted, since I like a stock Android OS rather than the ones that carriers have screwed up (I also rely on the WiFi hotspot feature occasionally, and I'm not paying $20/mo extra for it on trop of the already outrageous data rates). If this phone were available in the US today for $310, I would buy it today, without a bit of hesitation. There's nothing even close to that price point with those kind of specs.

I have the Virgin Mobile LG Optima V, which is $150 now and goes on sale for less periodically. That's $150 unsubsidized and with a month-to-month, no contract plan. It's not the greatest phone in the world but I'm largely satisfied with cost/performance tradeoff.

Covered here previously: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2171107 My write up on how to activate the Optimus for WiFi use only: http://blog.gerundinganimal.com/2011/01/cheap-wifi-only-andr...

Are locked phones really unsubsidized? Not $200 subsidy, obviously, but maybe $50 or $100, considering that Virgin expects you to use it with a $30+ monthly plan and would treat it as a customer acquisition cost.

As I understand subsidized vs. unsubsidized, yes it is. I can buy the phone without entering into a contract. I can terminate service with VM after 30 days. I can sell the phone to someone else who can choose to buy service from VM or not.

True it isn't unlocked, but I'm not aware of anyone saying unsubsidized == unlocked.

I work for Vodafone (Australia) and we definitely subsidise our locked phones. We charge a $75 (first six months)/$25 (thereafter) unlocking fee to cover the subsidy costs.

Given that the subsidy provided by the carrier is funded by the monthly contract payment of the customer, it probably isn't worth splitting hairs here.

It is worth splitting hairs because AT&T and Verizon are guaranteed to either make $75+/mo (it was $110 for my minimal minutes plan) for 2+ years OR a $200+ cancellation fee to make up for the cost of the phone.

You can buy a Virgin mobile phone and never activate it. You can stop paying without penalty after your first month. That's unsubsidised.

OTOH, Virgin USA may still be subsidizing it (by charging below cost), and just willing to take a loss if you never activate it. Since it only works on the Virgin network anyways, this isn't a risky gamble.

I assume that the $310 pricetag is before any sort of carrier subsidy, which would make this $200-300 cheaper than some of today's top-end devices. This could be a $10 phone on contract, or even free.

There's at least a dozen no-contract android phones under $300 on Newegg:


I think the idea is that those phones are not as sophisticated, despite being cheaper.

But they don't have dual core 1.5 Ghz chips in them.

Yes, but they're cheaper. So for $300, you pay for what you get. I'm not even sure if this news warrants a headline on HN.

No, you don't. Compare with current dual core models.

What's the cost of

- Samsung Galaxy S II

- LG Optimus 2x (or Optimus Speed, depending on location)

for you? Both are recent dual core models, the latter is the cheaper one (I own that one and payed more than $300 and thought it a bargain).

A $99 unlocked phone would be both, IMO. Just like the TouchPad went ionospheric at that price, the sub $100 phone with that kind of power would likely do the same.

The issue isn't just carrier subsidy in this case, having an uber-cheap Android phone will open up huge markets that are currently underserved by smart phones (Africa, anyone?). There are projects afoot that would greatly benefit from seriously cheap, capable hardware right now--my friend is working on a water finder project for rural areas in poor countries (think Botswana in the sticks) to help track well quality and production. This is a huge issue for these areas and having something that is as powerful as Android with GPS and network capabilities is a game changer.

At $310, that's a harder sell. At $99, it's a no brainer.

I'm not sure. The Touchpad broke that way because it was a $600 device that was all of a sudden $99. People were anchored on "this is an expensive device" and all of a sudden it was supremely affordable.

A straight up $99 phone certainly wouldn't have quite the appeal. I do think you'd sell a bunch of them, but nothing like the touchpad.

$80 Android phones are available: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2892031

This article is pointing out that cheap high-end Androids (superphones?) are also becoming available.

I'm partial to Companion Devices, or Companions, if you're looking for a better word than smartphone.

"A $99 unlocked phone would be both, IMO. Just like the TouchPad went ionospheric at that price, the sub $100 phone with that kind of power would likely do the same."

It might, but I do not think it is a given. By the time it is economically feasible to sell such a phone for that price, the bar may have been raised to 'require' more power. Phones cost a couple of hundred dollar not only because of technical limitations, but also because that is what 'we' want to pay. Just like what happened with PCs, the prices may (and probably will) come down eventually, but I think that may be a few years in the future yet. For example, I would prefer a 3D or even holographic screen over a cheaper phone. I also think there will be applications of realtime image processing that will make 'us' prefer a faster phone at the same price over the current one at a lower price.

Yes, I don't either. I'm currently using a ZTE Blade. 600 MHz ARM 11 processor (Cortex-A would have been nice), Adreno 200 GPU, 512 MB RAM, a nice 480 x 800 screen and all the usual stuff like WiFi, GPS, etc. I'm running Android 2.2.

Sure, I've seen faster Android phones, but it feels quite responsive and it's usable. Angry Birds works ok. It cost me 90 quid, that's $140.

How do you find the phone, aka Orange San Francisco? My biggest question: is there a sound recorder ap that can access the microphone and make decent sample rate audio recordings?

Yes, you can record sound from the built-in microphone. The app I have seems to record 3gpp @ 8kHz, 12.8 kbit. No idea if you can record with a higher sampling rate. I haven't used it before, but the recording sounds way better than a typical phone call.

Downvoted because the article explicitly states the price is with "no contract or whatever other nonsense."

Get it to a provider and they'll subsidize it into a $50 phone.

Especially if there is an iPhone 4S for $299 in a month.

Yes, of course. It'll never compete with a mythical iPhone 4 at $299. iPhone 4 currently costs ~$450 unsubsidized and is a dramatically less powerful device than the one we are discussing.

You know that Android devices are outselling iPhones, even in the high end, right? Price is not the only reason people are choosing Android devices over iPhones.

On the Apple store an unlocked iphone 4 is $650.

Android phones outsell iPhones for several reasons, chiefly supply and price.

"Android phones outsell iPhones for several reasons, chiefly supply and price."

Do you have a source for this assertion, or is it just a gut feeling?

"... even in the high end, right? "


>Price is not the only reason people are choosing Android devices over iPhones.

Citation please? Some people no doubt buy Android for phobias about "walled gardens", etc. but that's about all I can think of having used both.

Phobia means irrational fear. Preferring open gardens is IMO very rational. Shouldn't need to explain why on HN, right?

With a 2 year contract for, roughly, $1900. Unlocked it's $649, so you can see why a similarly-spec'ed phone at half the price is kind of a big deal.

If you got this with a contract, it would go for $49. Compare that to the Epic 4G Touch for $199 with a contract.

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