Mobile World Congress 2014 has come to an end, and after four days of running around all those booths, talking with developers and testing out devices, we’re ready to make a selection for the best affordable smartphones presented this year at MWC. There were a lot of awesome devices from very well known companies, but just as well, there were many hidden treasures which are just waiting to be discovered.
For those of you who are interested in buying an affordable, up-to-date smartphone in the near future, then it is very likely that the device you will get has been presented at the Mobile World Congress. To help you with finding a good phone, we’ve put together a list of the most cheapest smartphones you can find at MWC 2014. Also, keep in mind that some of these devices are not yet released, so you might want to wait a few weeks before you can actually get your hands on them.
Cheapest Smartphones at MWC 2014
ZTE Open C
We knew this device would be presented at MWC 2014 some time before the actual conference, but having the opportunity to play around with the smartphone and get a feel for the Firefox OS. ZTE has risen to the task of creating a cheap smartphone aimed at developing markets, which runs the Firefox OS, but how good it runs? The smartphone is built out of quality materials, therefore it feels good and sturdy to the touch, regardless of its small size. The OS though is still a mixed bag, with the user interface being fast and easy to navigate, but has lots of rough edges waiting to be fixed. The ZTE Open C has model specs, but the company has stated that it will be priced in the low-end segment and it will be available in European markets in Q2.
- 4-inch WVGA display
- dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 200 with 512MB of RAM
- 2MP fixed focus rear camera
- 1,200mAh battery
Price: Not yet announced, though expected to be very competitive
ZTE Open II
The second smartphone which was unveiled by ZTE this year at MWC is the one with a small form-factor, ultra-budget Open II. A precursor to last year’s ZTE Open, the new device runs Firefox OS 1.3 and as far as design goes, the ZTE Open II has a plastic back which doesn’t feel cheap to the touch, its screen is small and displayed images don’t have the crispness we’re used to from modern-day smartphone, but on the plus side, it is better than many other devices I’ve seen. The device is fairly responsive, meaning that the HTML5 apps which run on it are doing their job properly, but it did lag at times,which is to be expected due to its lower-tier specs. Like the Open C, there’s no word of a US release, so stateside fans will have to find some alternatives, but in other markets it will be sold starting Q2.
- 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 256MB of RAM
- 3.5-inch HVGA display with 480 x 320 resolution
- 2 MP camera and 2GB of ROM
- 1150 mAh battery
Price: Not yet announced, but expected to be in the low-end pool
LG’s L Series devices were announced this year at MWC, and if you’ve been paying more attention to the stunning G Flex than to these low-end devices then you might have missed them completely. Of course, these are not as exciting as a self-healing polymer and a curved display, but nevertheless, they deserve some attention, as they are decent devices which are very affordable. The LG L40 is in the lowest position of the bunch, having the lowest specs as well. Even so, for a first smartphone it is still a viable choice especially if you want to get a taste of Android 4.4.
- 1.2 dual-core processor and 512 MB of RAM
- 3.5-inch display with 480×320 pixel resolution
- 4GB of internal storage
- 3MP rear facing camera
- 1700 mAh or 1540 mAh battery (depending on region)
Price: Not Announced, but expected to be in the low-end market
The middle-man in LG’s L Series is the L70, which is slightly better than the L40, having more RAM and better cameras than its little brother. The device comes with the latest Android 4.4 pre-installed, so users will get the chance to see all the new features of the OS, but in budget smartphone which won’t burn a hole through your pockets. The design of the device is clean and stylish and its plastic body is slim and fits easily in your hand. LG L70 is a pretty good device for users who want a modern device which works well and looks good. For more information about LG’s L series, do check out our coverage of LG at MWC 2014 If you want to know the device in more detail, here are some technical specs:
- 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM
- 4 GB of internal storage + microSD card slot
- 8 MP or 5 MP rear camera (depending on your region) and VGA front facing camera
- Removable 2100 mAh battery
Price: Not Announced, but expected to be in the mid-range market
Sony Xperia M2
Although the powerful Xperia Z2 smartphone and the Z2 tablet took the center stage this year, Sony has also announced the M2 smartphone, which is a mid-level device with a smart look, like what the Z1 Compact has. This affordable smartphone will come in two versions, single and dual-SIM and Sony has also mentioned that it will hit the market pretty soon, in April to be more exact. Overall, the Sony Xperia M2 is a great looking smartphone with decent specs priced very competitively.
- 4.8-inch qHD display with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels
- 8MP rear camera with Exmor RS Sensor which features Autoscene Recognition and HDR
- 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 CPU
- 2,300mAh battery with STAMINA Mode 3.0
- NFC technology and LTE
ZTE Grand Memo II LTE
ZTE has released their own affordable device this year, which surprised some due to the fact that it is the successor of last year’s powerful Grand Memo. The new Grand Memo 2 LTE has (unbelievably) a downgraded CPU, stepping down from the Snapdragon 800 to the Snapdragon 400. The device comes with the latest Android 4.4 OS, and for a phablet, the price is pretty good, especially if you’re interested in a big screen.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 and 2GB of RAM
- 16 GB of storage space
- 3200mAh battery
- 6-inch display, 13 MP rear camera and 5 MP front camera
Price: Expected to be around $300
As you might know, BlackBerry announced two new devices this year at MWC, the Z3 is a touchscreen slab aimed at the mid range market, and of course, prices as such. We’ve enjoyed the device, which has a stylish design and decent specs. The Z3 has the advantage of having the latest OS that the company has released, the BlackBerry version 10.2.1, the only downside being the fact that for now it is only available for the Indonesian market. Other specs of the device are:
- 5-inch qHD display with a resolution of 960×540 pixels
- Snapdragon 400 dual-core CPU and 1.5GB of RAM
- 5-megapixel rear camera and 1.1-megapixel front camera
- 8GB of internal storage
Price: Expected to be around $200
Alcatel One Touch Idol 2 Mini & Alcatel One Touch Idol 2 Mini S
Alcatel’s offering this year at MWC has been rich and various. The company has unveiled both smartphones and tablets spanning the entire price range. In the low-end part of the pool, we have the Idol 2 Mini, which is a decent device, even though its hardware isn’t anything to marvel at. The device is pretty responsive and its design is good. The quality materials add to the value of the device so it doesn’t feel cheap in any way. Like the Sony Xperia M2, there are two versions of the device, single and dual-SIM, and apart from the number of SIM cards it holds, the difference between them also lies in the storage space, as the dual-SIM version has 8GB of storage space, twice as much as the single-SIM version. The Idol 2 Mini S is identical spec-wise, the only difference being the addition of LTE.
- 4.5-inch qHD IPS LCD display
- 8MP camera at the back and a 2MP camera at the front
- 1.2GHz quad-core CPU and 1GB of RAM
- 4GB / 8GB storage space
Price: Expected to be around €169
Alcatel One Touch Pop Fit
One of the smallest devices we’ve seen at MWC 2014, the Alcatel Pop Fit has a reason for coming in such a small factor. Alcatel has marketed this device for fitness lovers who need a small accessory which does the job of a Samsung Gear Fit, Huawei TalBand B1 or Sony’s SmartBand, but at a lower price and which more options. The PopFit has all the features which you’d find in a fitness tracker, and just to sweeten the deal, Alcatel is packaging the little smartphone with an armband and a pair of JBL headphones. The Pop Fit is small, lightweight and surprisingly fast when used, and if you want to use the device, Alcatel will start shipments in May. Here’s a look at the specs inside the little smartphone:
- 2.8-inch QVGA display with 320 x 240 resolution
- 1GHz MediaTek CPU and 512MB of RAM
- 16GB/32GB of storage
- 1000mAh removable battery
Price: Expected to be €89
Nokia Asha 230
Nokia had a big presence at MWC 2014. Their booths was one of the coolest ones and their devices were also awesome. Even though the center stage was taken up by the big smartphones, like every year, Nokia has updated their Asha low-end devices. This smartphone (yes, Asha is still considered a smartphone platform) runs Nokia’s own operating system and come with a host of apps and services which allow users to keep tabs on social media, maps or news. The Asha 230 is a small factor device, but like with almost all of Nokia’s devices, it doesn’t feel cheap. The body is smooth and pleasant to the touch while the touchscreen is responsive and looks good. For more information on the Nokia Asha 230 and the Nokia 220 feature phone, take a look over our coverage.
- 2.8-inch QVGA display
- Quad Band 850/900/1800/1900MHz frequencies
- Bluetooth 3.0
- 33 days standby time
Nokia’s move to Android was big news at the Mobile World Congress, and their take on creating an Android smartphone was very interesting. The redesigned Android UI looks very similar to Windows Phone, which can be somewhat misleading and not to everyone’s taste. Even so, the price at which the company is pricing their Nokia X makes it a very welcomed addition to the market, as its specs are decent for a mid-ranged device (but won’t win any speed records). If you’re interested in buying this device, you should know that Nokia has stripped out all traces of Google from the OS, so not even the Play Store will be available.
- 4-inch IPS LCD display with 480×800 resolution
- 1 GHz Dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor with 512MB of RAM
- 3.15 MP rear camera
- 4GB of internal storage with microSD card slot
- Android 4.1.2 Operating System
Price: Starts at €89
Nokia’s X+ is basically the same as Nokia X, but with the addition of a few MB of RAM. Some Might question why would Nokia release two devices which are almost identical in price, and their specs are pretty close to each other. Even so, the Nokia X+ is a very cheap smartphone which was unveiled at MWC 2014, and for those of you who are eager to try out Nokia’s take on Android, the waiting period for this device is until Q2 of 2014 when shipments will be expected to start. Also, if you want to know more about Nokia’s Android devices, do check out our cover story of all the devices.
- 4-inch IPS LCD display with 480×800 resolution
- 1 GHz Dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor with 768MB of RAM
- 3.15 MP rear camera
- 4GB of internal storage with microSD card slot (4 GB SD card included)
- Android 4.1.2 Operating System
Price: Officially announced at €99
Nokia’s most powerful Android smartphone presented at the Mobile World Congress was the Nokia XL, and even this device doesn’t go out of the mid-range part of the market. Even thought it’s not too powerful, the device’s price will make up for what it lacks in horsepower. It was interesting to see that Nokia didn’t create a high-end Android smartphone, but on the other hand, they have to see how the public reacts to the change to Android before plunging in this market. All things considered, if you like both Android and Nokia, and you can go without using the Play Store (Nokia has launched the “Nokia Store” to compensate for this), then the Nokia XL is an affordable smartphone that you might like.
- 1 GHz Dual-core Cortex-A5 Snapdragon S4 and 768 MB of RAM
- 5.0 inch IPS LCD display with 480 x 800 resolution
- 4 GB internal storage with microSD card slot
- 5 MP rear camera with auto-focus and LED flash and 2 MP front camera
- 2000 mAh battery
Price: Launched at €109
Kazam Tornado 2 5.5
The British team from Kazam are aiming to create the best possible smartphone for the least amount of money. After presenting their products this year at MWC, it’s safe to say that they’ve achieved their goal and then some. The Tornado 2 5.5 is their high-end model, having great specs, but at the same time the device is priced very low, which makes it affordable for a wider range of users. The device itself looks very good, having a clean design, quality materials which feel solid, but the high point of Kazam’s presentation was the price, which is cheaper than a Nexus, and at the same time, with upgraded specs.
- 1.7 GHz MediaTek octa-core processor with 2 GB of RAM
- 5.5 in full HD display
- 13 MP rear camera
- 16 GB of internal storage
- 2500 mAh battery
- dual-SIM (one normal SIM and one microSIM)
Price: Kazam is aiming to market the device for £200 / €250 / $340
Kazam Tornado 2 5.0
The second smartphone produced by the British team at Kazam is the little brother of the very powerful Tornado 2 5.5. It probably will become confusing to some people (yours included) after a while, but the company has decided to name the second device Tornado 2 5, after the dimensions of the screen. Like its bigger brother, the Tornado 2 5 has some awesome specs, but slightly lower than the 5.5 version. An awesome thing about Kazam, apart from the fact that they’ve produced one of the most affordable smartphone ever, is the fact that the company will change any broken screen for any of their devices for a full year, free of charge.
- 5 inch display with 720p resolution
- 1.7 GHz MediaTek octa-core processor with 1 GB of RAM
- 8GB of internal storage
- 8 MP rear camera and 2 MP front facing camera
Price: Yet to be announced, but most likely cheaper than the Tornado 2 5.5