Archos 45 Helium is a 4G quad-core phone for under £200

The Archos 45 Helium and 50 Helium are £200 and £240 respectively, both have 4G and quad-core chips, and run Android 4.3 -- but they cut some corners.

Nick Hide Managing copy editor
Nick manages CNET's advice copy desk from Springfield, Virginia. He's worked at CNET since 2005.
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Nick Hide
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Le chic, c'est cheap. Here's a couple of cheapish new Android phones from French company Archos that look much classier than its previous budget efforts and have respectable specs too.

The Archos 45 Helium and 50 Helium (pictured above, but the 45 is virtually identical) will set you back a penny less than £200 and £240 respectively. Both have 4G -- increasingly a must-have, even for low-cost phones -- and both run on a decent 1.4GHz quad-core Cortex A7 chip, backed up by 1GB of RAM.

As you might have deduced, the 45 has a 4.5-inch screen and the 50 has a 5-incher, with 854x480-pixel and 1,280x720-pixel resolutions respectively. That's nothing to write home about -- the 50 Helium's 294 pixels per inch is less than the iPhone's retina display, while the 45's 218ppi is worse than the original Samsung Galaxy S, a phone that's nearly five years old.

Storage is pretty meagre too, with 8GB on the 50 and just 4GB on the 45, although both have a microSD card slot to beef that up. Cameras are slightly better, with 2 megapixels on the front of the 50 and 8 on the back; and 0.3 and 5 megapixels on the 45. Both are capable of recording 1080p video.

Both run Android 4.3, the last version before the most recent 4.4 KitKat -- and I wouldn't hold my breath for an update. Previous Archos phones have boasted unskinned Android, with none of the junk and bloatware most manufacturers add to Google's software, and the new Heliums look to have undiluted Jelly Bean too.

Better value alternatives

The 50 Helium is much the better value of the two, but £240 is within striking distance of the £299 Google Nexus 5, a phone with a far higher resolution screen, a more powerful chip and twice as much RAM and storage.

At the cheaper end of the market, the Moto G has a much better screen than the 45 Helium, twice as much storage and a far better front-facing camera, and can be found for as little as £99. It runs the same version of Android, and the only advantages the 45 can offer are 4G and that microSD slot.

The Archos 45 and 50 Helium will be on show at CES, the techstravaganza in Las Vegas next week, where we'll have some hands-on first impressions for you. Check out all our show previews and tonnes more at ces.cnet.com.

Are you tempted by the Gallic stylings of the Archos 45 or 50 Helium? Have you used Archos stuff before? Let me know what you think down in the comments, or on our Gauloise-smoking Facebook page.