How Low Can Android Go?

A couple of days ago I spotted what may be the best pay-as-you-go deal I’ve ever seen. T-Mobile was selling the T-Mobile Pulse Mini on its Web site for just £19.99 with a £10 top-up. What’s more, the phone was offered with T-Mobile’s standard six months’ free Internet access, worth £20. This effectively means you’re getting an Android-powered Pulse Mini for free. In terms of value, this makes it probably the most competitive deal for a smartphone in the UK.

T-Mobile’s decision to drop the price of an Android device far below any of its rivals demonstrates just how far competition has developed during the past 12 months. After all, it was just over a year ago that the Pulse Mini first made headlines for its £99 price tag. Today, Android products such as the ZTE Racer and Vodafone 845 as well as Symbian products like the Nokia 5228 have pushed average retail prices further towards £50. Indeed the Nokia 5228 remains the Pulse Mini’s closest rival, costing £49.95 at Carphone Warehouse.

For the average buyer, this might appear suspicious. The T-Mobile Pulse Mini now sits side-by-side with feature phones such as Nokia’s 2330 classic and Samsung’s C3050. It’s worth pointing out that the Pulse Mini has a low-end specification for a smartphone — and is only available in pink. T-Mobile may simply be looking to shift these devices following Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day specials. And the product’s reaching the end of its life.

However none of this should detract from the fact that the smartphone segment of the prepaid market has become so competitive. Even established manufacturers like Samsung have seen retailers push product prices below £100. For example, Samsung’s Galaxy Apollo, which originally headlined at Orange for around £180 now sells at Carphone Warehouse for just under £80.

But even if the Pulse Mini is a rare deal, it nevertheless provides a scary glimpse of what the future might hold for retailers if they want to remain competitive. I have to admit that the Pulse Mini’s price tag was lower than I had ever expected. The promotion’s since been pulled from the T-Mobile Web site. Luckily I was able to get a screen grab to remind myself of the day Android fell to an all-time low.