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Cheap, but fast: Jelly Bean smartphones with dual-core processors

What is the cheapest dual-core smartphone running Android Jelly Bean 4.1?

Samsung Galaxy S III Mini

We're often asked what is the cheapest dual-core smartphone running Android Jelly Bean 4.1. To our knowledge, the only low-cost dual-core smartphone running the Jelly Bean 4.1 OS out of the box is Samsung's Galaxy S III Mini, which costs around £239 SIM-free. Alternatively, you can buy the faster Google Nexus 4, which has a quad-core processor and the latest Jelly Bean 4.2 OS, for the same £239 asking price. See Android Advisor.

The Samsung Galaxy S III Mini is very similar-looking to the larger Galaxy S III, with the same pebble-like curved sides and rounded corners. It has a 4in (480x800) display, 8- or 16GB of internal storage and a 5Mp rear camera. Combined with 1GB of RAM, its 1GHz dual-core processor produced a 763-point score in Geekbench 2. In the SunSpider JavaScript test it managed 2,037ms, and in GLBenchmark 2.5 it was capable of gaming framerates of 12fps. None of these scores will blow off your socks, but they're quite reasonable for a low-cost smartphone.

The problem remains that most affordable smartphones still come on to the market running the older Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS, such as the £10-per-month Huawei Ascend G330. Meanwhile, many of the budget handsets that have been announced for 2013 run Android Jelly Bean 4.1, but on single-core processors. If you want the best of both worlds, you need to look to the top-end of a manufacturer's smartphone line-up, and expect to pay £400-plus.

Samsung's Galaxy Young and Galaxy Fame, for example, were announced only last week. The Galaxy Young is said to be "a smart and affordable Android playmate for the younger, stylish generation of mobile users", with a 3.27in screen, 4GB of internal storage and a 3Mp camera. The Galaxy Fame, meanwhile, has a slightly larger 3.5in screen, a 5Mp rear camera, plus a front-facing snapper for video chat. Both run Android Jelly Bean 4.1 as standard, but on 1GHz single-core processors. 

Likewise, Sony's forthcoming Xperia E is a budget Android smartphone listed at £159 on its website. It has a 3.5in (320x480) screen and a 3.2Mp camera, and it runs Android Jelly Bean 4.1. But Sony lists the Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM7227A, a single-core processor running at 1GHz. 

You can expect to see a whole range of cheap Jelly Beans running single-core processors come on to the market in 2013, thanks to a MediaTek platform that builds in display- and dual-SIM capability at a budget price. The MediaTek 6575, for example, was designed for budget smartphones in emerging overseas markets, but we've already seen this chip in Lenovo's £150 IdeaTab A2107A tablet. Cheaper even than the Nexus 7, with decent build quality and built-in 3G, the Lenovo is a tempting proposition, but we weren't impressed by its weak performance.

An alternative, if you've got your heart set on a dual-core Jelly Bean at an affordable price, is to look to the 2012 dual-core models slated for a Jelly Bean upgrade. We've heard rumours that Sony's Xperia P (£209), Xperia go (£174) and Xperia J (£192) will all be upgraded to Jelly Bean 4.1, as will Samsung's popular Galaxy Ace 2 (£172) and Galaxy Ace Plus (£169). ZTE is also planning to give its Blade 3 (£161) and Grand X (£155) the Jelly Bean treatment. All are dual-core smartphones that offer reasonable performance at an affordable price, but no definite timescale has been announced even if Jelly Bean does become available for these handsets. 

If you know of a cheap dual-core Jelly Bean we've missed off our list, please add it to the comments section below.

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