Are smartphone users willing to skimp on a few features if it means paying hundreds of dollars less on the outright cost of a phone, or less than $50 on a monthly contract?
Today Huawei announced a $349 Android handset, the Ideos X5, which is also available on a $29 cap from Crazy John's. The company is also offering two of the phones on a $49 "Twin Cap" deal.
So is a $349 smartphone good enough for the masses? On paper, the Ideos X5 seems like a reasonable handset, though as you'd expect there are some compromises. The phone runs Android 2.2, which is good news, and the 3.8in capacitive touchscreen (800x480) is bigger than the iPhone 4.
Rather impressively, the Ideos X5 manages 720p HD video recording. The 5MP camera falls short of many high end smartphones, but there's an LED flash. The X5 can function as a hotspot for up to 5 other devices. The 800MHz processor won't threaten the likes of Motorola's Atrix, but is on par with other Android phones like the HTC Desire Z.
The budget king of budget smartphones? Huawei's Ideos X5
The comparison with HTC's Desire Z is an interesting one. The two phones have some similar common features including a 5MP camera, Android 2.2, 720p video recording. But specification sheets are only one aspect of a phone's appeal - HTC's hardware, Sense interface, and features like remote locking via HTCSense.com.
As with devices like the Telstra T-Touch Tab, the test will be at what point budget smartphones are "good enough" for the majority of users.
Huawei has previously announced it has the Ideos X3 on the way. This week Telstra also launched a $99 pre-paid Android smartphone.