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LG’s budget-friendly Android phone hits stores

by Kristen Nicole

Android devices are expected to surpass PC sales as soon as next year, if you believe the recent report from market analysis firm Asymco. The trend will likely be attributed in some part to a growing number of sub-$100 smartphones, which are expected to become extremely popular in developing and established markets alike. LG has its bases covered with the new Optimus Spirit, priced nicely at $149 with some noteworthy specs. Polaroid is also turning heads with its upcoming Android camera, while Motorola’s taste-testing Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on its Xoom Wi-Fi tablet.

LG Optimus Spirit

Australia’s a great market for mobile devices, becoming a battleground for early testing and sales. Even in this mature market, budget-friendly devices are expected to thrive and the LG Optimus Spirit provides a great example of what you can get for minimal money. A follow-up to the LG Optimus One, this Telstra exclusive is priced at $149 with a decent amount of bang for your buck. Running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, the Optimus Spirit has a skinned overlay called LG Home. This provides customizable access icons at the bottom of each home screen, with quick access to silent-mode, Wi-Fi, and GPS settings. There’s a 3-megapixel camera (without flash), support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. There’s 150MB of internal memory with a microSD slot for extra storage.

Polaroid SC1630

Some camera makers have faltered in the past couple of years, largely thanks to smartphones with quality built-in cameras. Polaroid hopes to avoid Kodak’s fate with an Android-powered camera. The SC1630 is a 16-megapixel shooter with a 3x optical zoom lens, setting itself apart from the world of smartphone cameras. You get a 3.2-inch touch screen for web browsing, access to the Android Market and even games. Polaroid’s Android camera comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, so you’ll be able to send your images to your favorite social networks in no time. There’s also a Smart Albums feature that auto-organizes your photos by date, location and names. A geo-tagging function adds coordinates to photos, and you can also edit snapshots on the fly.

Motorola Xoom updates

Motorola confirmed that the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich updates have begun rolling out, pushing through a major upgrade for their Xoom Wi-Fi tablets. To be certain, the release is for Android 4.0.3, offering you the latest and greatest Google’s mobile OS has to offer. As long as you haven’t rooted or unlocked your Xoom, the ICS update should be available right now if you check your settings, and will continue to roll out over the next two weeks. The ICS update was much anticipated but not much of a surprise, given the string of recent updates Motorola’s sent out for the Xoom. While Asus beat them to the punch with an ICS tablet, Motorola’s still ahead of the game, beating out Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, which may not get the ICS update at all.