EE to launch cheapest 4G handset in the world

(Credit: EE)EE Kestrel phone

UK mobile network operator and internet service provider EE has launched Kestrel, a 4G smartphone that retails for $166 without a contract. Thus far, it is the cheapest 4G handset anywhere in the world and will ship at the end of April.

Made by China's Huawei Technologies, the EE Kestrel is billed as the cheapest 4G handset offered on pay as you go in the UK. Without any strings attached, customers are able to get it for just £99.99 (about $166). EE is a British joint venture of T-Mobile and Orange and is the latest carrier to launch its own-brand smartphone.

EE Kestrel features a 4.5-inch qHD (540×960) screen; a theoretical download speed of 150 megabits per second; 1GB RAM; a 1.2Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chip; 5 megapixel camera on the back, 1 megapixel front-facing camera and 8GB of internal storage expandable with a microSD card. Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is the OS.

Smartphones such as the Motorola Moto G and Nokia's Lumia 520 lack LTE support. A widening chip war and the LTE's growing popularity will help improve future models of these smartphones, said analysts. The introduction of Kestrel is an early sign of developments along this line.

The Snapdragon 400 powering Kestrel was announced in June 2013 and is intended to bring down the cost of LTE smartphones. Vendors like Broadcom, Intel, Marvell, MediaTek and Nvidia now see an chance to compete better against Qualcomm with their own LTE products.

The chipset race among providers won't just provide low-cost LTE smartphones for budget conscious consumers in the US and Europe, but will also to help the technology take-off in emerging countries.

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