When the LG Optimus T and Optimus S phones were announced last year, I genuinely felt for the first time that feature phones were a dying breed. Both of these Optimus handsets were branded as entry-level smartphones, but had very impressive features--they shipped with Android 2.2 Froyo (the latest OS update at the time), had portable Wi-Fi hot spots, and of course the usual Android features like robust e-mail and Google app support.
Sure, they weren't as advanced as their higher-end cousins--no Flash support, no HD video, and so on--but for $30 or less, these phones were an absolute steal. Considering that some feature phones are selling for more than twice that price for far fewer features, it seemed that smartphones were finally affordable enough that everyone could get one. Furthermore, the Android interface is not that difficult to navigate, making the usability factor almost a nonissue.
But there are two important barriers to entry when it comes to smartphone adoption: data plans and contracts. Almost every carrier requires some kind of data plan to go along with its smartphones, while feature phones tend to escape such confines. Also, smartphone contracts tend to be more expensive to get out of, with early termination fees in the $200-$300 range depending on how early on you want to exit the contract. Because of these restrictions, feature phones still continue to be popular with the mainstream despite the smartphone craze that tends to dominate the tech news circuit.
Which is why the Motorola i886 is such an interesting handset.… Read more