I need a new phone. A smartphone. And I don’t have Galaxy S4 money, talk less of BlackBerry Z10 or Q10 maga money. Actually, all I’m prepared to spend at this point in time is N30k.

After a bit of looking around, I’ve narrowed down to three devices that I wouldn’t mind being seen outside with, and yet stay within tweaking distance of my 30k budget, more or less.

There’s the Huawei Ascend W1, which I pointedly refuse to call the “4Afrika” simply because I detest the name. It’s got decent specs and runs the latest version of Windows Phone.

Then there’s Tecno’s N7, the 5 inch monster phone that appears to be trying to pass itself off as a Samsung Galaxy Note…until you turn it around and spy the logo. I’ve heard many good things about it, but I just don’t know. I mean, it is a Tecno phone afterall. But at just under N30k, it looks like a steal.

Finally, I’m looking at the Nokia Lumia 520 . At just around 30k, Nokia is finally doing something sensible that isn’t exactly mid-range, but isn’t low end either. It looks good, really good. The specs aren’t half bad for the price, plus it’s got that unapologetic Lumia swag that just speaks for itself.

I should say that in zeroing in on those three, I’ve skipped a dozen other very good, similarly priced Samsungs, HTCs, Sony Ericssons and a bunch of other no-name brands straight out of Shenzen.

It used to be that the device prices were skewed towards towards two extremes. The very high end market, and the very low end budget conscious market. The devices in the middle were often slightly souped up versions of the low end phones and seldom delivered on the serious stuff. So if you were a mid-ranger you were faced with a difficult choice. Either save up to afford the high end phone of your dreams, or cop out and buy a cheaper phone that doesn’t exactly meet your needs.

See me ranting here about how Nokia didn’t care about geeks on a budget all the way back in 2011 on Mobility, these comments here, here and here.

I’m thinking that is no longer the case now. Two months ago, all N30k would have bought was some low end crap hardware running obsolete software. Now? There’s suddenly a whole range of decent middle priced devices to choose from, running the latest versions of Android and Windows Phone…BlackBerry doesn’t have any sensible devices in the thirties, IMO, so they probably aren’t getting that lower mid-range action.

The battle to get smartphones below the hundred dollar mark is far from over, but the mid-range consumers  are already reaping the first fruits. Time was when truly kickass devices used to cost an arm and leg. They still do. But these days, a mere N30k can get you a pretty darned good smartphone.

They all cost about the same and look like they can get the job done, so now I’m sort of confused about which to go for. The fresh Huawei? The massive Tecno? Or the sleek Lumia?

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