EE launches ‘cheapest 4G phone ever’

UK operator EE has announced the launch of what it claims is the cheapest 4G phone ever in the form of the £49 Rook.

The smartphone industry has been in a concerted race to the bottom in terms of pricing for some time, driven by the economies of scale that China’s huge manufacturing sector enjoys. A significant threshold was reached when the first $100 smartphones appeared and things have kept going downwards from there.

Whether or not, somewhere in the world, another 4G smartphone might be available to buy at around the £50 mark is hard to discern, but to launch one in the UK at that level remains a good effort, especially when the specs are considered. This entry-level device still manages to sport a 800×480 four-inch screen, a 1GHz quad-core Mediatek SoC, the latest (5.1) version of Android as well as, of course, a 4G modem.

Existing EE customers get an extra tenner off the cost of the device, which presumably is locked to their network. “At EE, we believe everyone should have access to 4G and the experiences it offers on the go,” said Sharon Meadows, Director of Devices at EE. “The Rook provides a great 4G smartphone at a compelling price – allowing even more people to enjoy the benefits of our superfast mobile network from high speed web browsing and downloads to gaming and streaming.”

A handset of this price is clearly aimed at the prepaid market, as confirmed by the stipulation that £10 worth of prepaid service needs to be bought alongside the Rook.

Rob Kerr of Uswitch agrees that this is a tempting deal. “4G phones under £50 aren’t exactly littering the ground, so this is a compelling offer for those of us on tight budgets,” he said. “If you’re only planning to spend £50 on a smartphone, it’s unlikely 4G is high on your priority list, but there will be people who want fast mobile internet on a shoestring, and the Rook certainly fits the bill.

“In terms of specs, the Rook has solid, entry-level features including a fast processor, the latest Android 5.1 and all-important 4G, so this is a good bet for EE pay-as-you-go customers who want the 4G experience for less. But beware that the handset will be locked to the EE network, so you’ll need to fork out an unlocking fee if you want to use it on other networks.”

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