Home Your IT Mobility Vodafone NZ’s cheap Android smartphone – in Australia soon?
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Vodafone NZ has announced a cheap – as in NZ$100 – smartphone. It’s a Chinese white label Android, cheap enough for the prepaid market. Will it come to Australia?

“Great news for Kiwi Android lovers,” gushes the Vodafone NZ press release. “If you’re in the market for a new mobile phone that’s easy on your wallet, the new Vodafone Smart Mini could be just what you’re looking for.”

Of course, Vodafone doesn’t make this device, but it carries the Vodafone brand and is being pushed as “the latest and most affordable sleek, compact smartphone without any compromise on performance.”

Vodafone UK launched it last month, for £50 upfront hardware cost and with some attractive usage deals. Vodafone isn’t very forthcoming about the manufacturer, but dig around the web a bit and you find it is TCT, a Hong Kong based joint venture between Chinese company TCL and Alcatel-Lucent.

TCL is one of the emerging Chinese telecommunications giants, with annual revenues exceeding $10 billion. It is best known for its One Touch smartphone brand. This Vodafone Smart Mini seems to be a rebadged device from the low end of that range.

But it packs quite a punch for the money. “Perfect for new smartphone users, the Smart Mini is a powerful mini handset designed to deliver the complete mobile experience – from simple messaging through to multimedia apps and sophisticated location-based services.”

It has a 3.5”touch screen display, a 1GHz MediaTek processor, Android Jelly Bean 4.1, 2 Megapixel camera with digital zoom, 4GB of expandable memory with microSD cards. A low end machine, but with a ‘feature phone’ price.

Just right for the kiddies. In New Zealand it will be available in ‘astro black’ and ‘hot pink’, which gives you some idea of the target market. Vodafone Australia told iTWire it has no plans to release the Smart Mini in this country. But it’s in the UK, and it’s in New Zealand. Given its value for money, and Vodafone Australia’s recently revived marketing mojo, it would not surprise if we saw it here soon.

Whatever the case, the emergence of phones like this shows that we will soon see the end of the so-called ‘feature phone’ (a horrid industry term that indicates it lacks features). Very soon all new phones, even in the developing world (a horrid political term that means poor countries) will be Internet enabled smartphones.


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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.


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