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LG Town C300 looks eerily familiar, and rubbish next to budget Android phones

LG's new entry in its Town budget mobile series looks very similar to an Alcatel device we saw last week, but has it a hope against bargain Android phones recently launched?

LG has been very busy with Android lately, but is still taking the time to rustle up cheap and cheerful handsets such as the LG Town C300.

Aiming the device at energetic young things looking for a cheap pay as you go phone, the C300 has a curved 2.4-inch screen , and follows the traditional BlackBerry Qwerty keyboard style. A 2-megapixel camera is thrown in.

It has the usual social networking bits and pieces, with Facebook, Twitter and an MSN client, but without 3G and Wi-Fi Web browsing will be a chore. It'll be available for £70 plus a £10 top-up with Orange, and later Phones4U and Tesco.

Looks and spec wise, it's eerily similar to the Alcatel OT-802, another BlackBerry-styled phone which -- funnily enough -- also has a 2.4-inch screen, Qwerty keyboard and 2-megapixel camera. We're not sure what makes the LG £20 or so more expensive than the £45 Alcatel, but we suspect branding may have something to do with it.

Only recently, we would have said you're getting decent value for very little money with these two. But the advent of budget Android 2.1 devices from both Alcatel and Orange -- costing less than £100 -- have moved the goalposts into a different stadium.

Although we have doubts about the data deal it comes with, the £99 Orange San Francisco has significantly better specs than the C300, boasting a capacitive touchscreen, a 600MHz processor, a 3-megapixel camera, 3G and Wi-Fi. But the fact that it's on a recent build of Android is a huge game changer, showing that networks and manufacturers can now provide Web-friendly, app-happy smart phones for incredibly low prices.

Social networking has been the buzzword for yoof-focused phones like the LG Town C300 this year. But the game has moved on: Android has spurred companies to provide far more advanced features that these dashing young blades really want, such as 3G, Wi-Fi and bazillions of apps, all for pocket-money prices. The writing's on the wall: soon even your gran will have a smart phone.