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Three Launches £99 Pre-pay Android Smartphone

Gordon Kelly

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Three Launches £99 Pre-pay Android Smartphone

Got big love for Android, but no budget to show it? Here's a solution...

Three has teamed up with handset maker ZTE to announce the 'Racer', the first Android smartphone to be available in the UK for under £100 on pay as you go. It will also be available free on monthly contracts from just £15.

Naturally with this sort of RRP you'd think the Racer would be a technological car crash, but it actually is a pleasant surprise with a 2.8in QVGA touchscreen, 7.2Mbit HSDPA connectivity, a 3.2MP camera and bundled 2GB microSD card. Interestingly the Racer also comes with Android 2.1 - a newer edition than is featured on many premium handsets (the Dell Streak ships with v1.6, the Xperia X10 with v2.0) and it is a vanilla install meaning no third party skins which should make future firmware upgrades a lot easier. It's reasonably attractive too.

On the downside the Racer inevitably uses a resistive touchscreen which will never be as responsive as the capacitive panels used on more expensive devices.

The Racer does look like being just the first of a rush of cheap Android handset though, with ZTE making the ballsy claim that it plans to almost triple its UK market share from three to eight per cent over the next 12 months. Keep producing tech bargains like this and it may just succeed...

Link: Three UK

Ben 3

July 15, 2010, 9:02 pm

'the first Android smartphone to be available in the UK for under £100 on pay as you go'





Guess you missed the T-Mobile Pulse Mini that's been out since May then http://www.t-mobile.co.uk/shop...

DrDark

July 15, 2010, 9:11 pm

2.8" is simply too small :-\





Although processor speed and screen res would be useful in determining whether this actually has a shot or not. Any ideas?

Gordon394

July 15, 2010, 9:26 pm

@Ben - thanks for the spot. We certainly did. Nice to know choice is expanding.

xenos

July 15, 2010, 9:26 pm

Get it off Three and give it a capacitive touch screen!

Gordon394

July 15, 2010, 9:27 pm

@xenos - some people are never happy ;)

Chris

July 15, 2010, 9:45 pm

One spec sheet I've found lists the processor as a Qualcomm MSM7227 @ 600Mhz, so that should be pretty speedy when running vanilla Android. Unfortunately, it also lists the screen res as 240x320. If reviews of the Wildfire are anything to go by, many apps aren't currently compatible with that resolution, so they just don't appear in the Market.

rav

July 15, 2010, 10:11 pm

I do think HVGA makes a big difference but then choice is never a bad thing. Good on them for sticking to Vanilla too.

xbrumster

July 15, 2010, 10:29 pm

targeting lower end of the market. can buy 5 of those for the price of an iphone 4. Equip my whole family with it and I still have 1 left to level my table.

Runadumb

July 15, 2010, 10:54 pm

I hate these types of handsets, only does damage to android. People buy them expecting everything to work then complain and 1 star apps because they don't run on such low end hardware. Hopefully (as rumoured) android 3.0 will roll out a minimum spec.

Ryan131

July 15, 2010, 11:03 pm

I <3 resistive. I think being pressure-sensitive rather then touch-sensitive is actually a better user experience. No need to add vibrating feedback.

dCap

July 15, 2010, 11:06 pm

... its listed at £109.99 on the three.co.uk website


but still good to see a decently priced mini-smart phone, 1/4 the price of an iPhone 3GS or 1/5 the price of the iPhone - sure it won't be an iPhone killer, but I wouldn't cry if I dropped a Racer (maybe the antenna works too?)

Zero

July 16, 2010, 12:31 am

I recommend Android to my friends, I know for sure one of them will buy this and be like errr its crap. No hating to the phone company and that!

Denis iii

July 16, 2010, 12:14 pm

Will you be doing a full review?


What are the downsides of resistive touch vs capacitive? Can resistive do multitouch? Will google maps and turn by turn navigation work?


I hope the rumours of Android 3.0 creating a solid platform rather then the fragmented current enviroment are true!

timple

July 16, 2010, 2:20 pm

When combined with http://appinventor.googlelabs.... this will be a great educational tool. Will suggest it to my Head Teacher....

DrDark

July 16, 2010, 4:06 pm

@Denis_iii:


Resistive needs you to apply pressure, Capacitive responds to light touches, but needs physical contact with your finger. Thus, Capacitive screens don't work with gloves or a stylus(although I'm aware you can buy a special stylus for it). However, resistive screens with bad software can suffer more often from "false taps" where you think you've tapped something successfully but it doesn't launch.


Overall, I'd say capacitive is better (although wouldn't solely affect purchase-decision) unless you're into sketching programs which work best with a stylus.





Resistive multitouch has been seen before (over a year ago now) but I don't believe the tech is available in any commercial product yet.





Since this will have Android 2.1, I'd expect it to include Google Navigation, yes.

Hugo

July 16, 2010, 4:11 pm

A capacitive screen doesn't need contact - otherwise you'd be unable to put a screen protector on your phone. I can unlock my iPhone's screen through a t-shirt. But the more sensitive the screen, the less accurate it becomes, which is why most only work with your finger in very close proximity.

DrDark

July 16, 2010, 5:18 pm

@Hugo: You must have a strong electric field then :P.





{Disclaimer: Taken from wikipedia}


"A capacitive touchscreen panel consists of an insulator such as glass, coated with a transparent conductor such as indium tin oxide (ITO).{6}{7} As the human body is also a conductor, touching the surface of the screen results in a distortion of the body's electrostatic field, measurable as a change in capacitance. Different technologies may be used to determine the location of the touch. The location is then sent to the controller for processing."





My finger works on an iPhone, as does swiping through my (thin) shirt, however my fingernail doesn't and it's not going to work through thick gloves.





P.S. Could we get get a video of you operating your iPhone through your t-shirt? xD

Matt G Baish

July 16, 2010, 5:28 pm

@drdark "2.8" is simply too small :-\"


@Runadumb "I hate these types of handsets"


@xenos "give it a capacitive touch screen!"


I have the HTC Tattoo; 2.8" QVGA (240x320) resistive touchscreen with Android 1.6 @ £180 unlocked (from play in January in the sale, although gone back up to £200 now) & IT IS THE BEST PHONE I HAVE *EVER* OWNED. No I am *NOT* saying it is the best phone out there (by a long shot) but for someone who wants a small-ish form factor phone then it blew away anything at that price point at the time. I wanted to `dip my toe` in the Android pond & this was a great way of doing it IMHO without having to fork out a small fortune or sign your life away on a 24 month contract. Come 2011 I will be looking for top of the range Gingerbread Android phone having become thoroughly convinced to Android`s brilliance.





@Chris


Whilst true that *some* apps aren't available, a lot are - especially the more useful/decent ones (e.g. the majority the Google apps, Amazon MP3, BBC News, FBReader etc.) My work colleague has an HTC G2 (Hero) & is jealous of the fact that I can run Google Navigation & he can't (being Android 1.5 - although due to be updated to 2.1 imminently).

rav

July 16, 2010, 6:58 pm

@DrDark


My Desire's screen works when wearing my Nike running gloves. I assumed it was cos they were thin and are made to disperse heat or something. Just a very uneducated guess.

DrDark

July 16, 2010, 7:33 pm

@rav: hmmm, sounds like a field test is in order. Although I can't do it as I don't wear gloves.





@Matt: maybe I sounded a bit harsh, but I was thinking of the browsing experience. You're right, the Tattoo is a nice phone and its touchscreen was one of the better resistive ones. In terms of dipping one's toe in the Android pond, it probably was the best choice at the time. You could say this 3 phone would take its place, especially given the Tattoo doesn't seem to have dropped in price much, but it just seems a bit late to be sticking to a size/form which doesn't bring out the best of Android.

Matt G Baish

July 16, 2010, 8:09 pm

@drdark "You could say this 3 phone would take its place"


Yeah, I was meaning to say that myself before being rudely dragged away to do some real work - tch - on a Friday?! ;) I guess the Wildfire is a direct replacement from HTC for the Tattoo & seems expensive compared to this. However, as usual, I guess the proof is in the eatin' :)

rav

July 16, 2010, 9:56 pm

My brother bagged the original Pulse from T-mobile for £99 and pound for pound it could be the best phone out there. It's got a HVGA capacative 3.5" screen. Never seen such a bargain phone.





It's also very easy to root and put on a vanilla ROM. The original custom ROM is awful.





If you're on a budget it's a great phone.





@DrDark


Will try and get up a video later today. Keep an eye on Twitter.

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