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Kogan announces $149 unlocked Android smartphone with 5-inch screen

The Agora offers some interesting specs, including dual SIM slots and a phablet-size display. It's scheduled to reach U.S. shores in about a month.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read
The Kogan Agora smartphone, available for preorder now, offers Android 4.0 and a 5-inch screen for $149. You choose the no-contract carrier: AT&T or T-Mobile.
The Kogan Agora smartphone, available for preorder now, offers Android 4.0 and a 5-inch screen for $149. You choose the no-contract carrier: AT&T or T-Mobile. Kogan

Want a smartphone on the cheap? Usually that means going the subsidized route, signing up for a two-year contract that'll cost you a small fortune by the time you're done.

The Kogan Agora is an unlocked Android 4.0 smartphone priced at $149 (plus shipping). Due to arrive in the U.S. next month, it'll support no-contract, pay-as-you-go plans from AT&T and T-Mobile. Oh, and it has a 5-inch screen.

To put that in some perspective, the similarly phablet-size LG Optimus Vu 2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2 sell unlocked for $860 and around $700, respectively.

Needless to say, $149 won't buy you quite the same level of specs that you'll get from those models. But as entry-level phones go, the Agora might prove appealing to budget-minded buyers.

Built around a dual-core 1GHz Cortex-A9 processor, the Agora features dual cameras (including a 5-megapixel rear one), 2G and 3G SIM slots (which in theory would let you have two different phone numbers, or one SIM for calls/text messages and another for data), and all the other usual goodies like Bluetooth, GPS, and Android 4.0.

Obviously the big screen is the big draw here, but unfortunately it runs at a fairly low resolution: 800x480 pixels. The Galaxy Note 2 runs at 1,280x720 pixels, while the Optimus Vu 2 stretches a little higher to 1,280x768. In real-world terms, the Agora is likely to look fairly grainy.

The phone also has just 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage, though you can expand the latter via inexpensive microSD cards.

So, yeah, it's an entry-level smartphone, albeit one with a huge screen. Engadget got a little hands-on time with one at CES and had this to say:

"Those specs should tell you that the Agora phone isn't aimed at the high end, but despite that, the build quality is solid. The square handset looks alright, too. We liked the dimpled back panel and prominent metal Kogan logo, as well as the shiny dark grey rim holding it all together. It's not exactly a Retina display, but it's not notably terrible, and performance-wise, it ranged from slick to jittery depending on how much we were telling it to do in how short a time."

I'm hoping for some hands-on time myself in a few weeks, but in the meantime, what's your initial impression of the Agora? Is it worth sacrificing some pixels, some RAM, and 4G in exchange for a price tag that's hundreds less than the competition?