52014Aug

Kogan’s new 4G Agora smartphone offers LTE at a low price

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Nic Healey/CNET

Aussie e-tailer Kogan has launched a new 4G model of its Agora smartphone, once again slapping a seriously budget price tag on it.

The last Agora was a quad-core 5-inch Android phone that cost just AU$199. The 4G model keeps the quad core CPU and screen size, adds support for Category 4 LTE on the 700, 900 and 1,800MHz spectra, and ups the price to just AU$229.

It’s also just been announced for some international markets. You’ll pay $219 in the US and £149 in the UK. Skip over the strait into New Zealand and you’ll see it for NZ$259.

The pricing puts it firmly in competition with Motorola’s 4G version of the Moto G, due out in August in Australia for AU$299, and currently on sale in the UK and US for exactly the same as the Agora — $219 and £149. The Moto G is slightly smaller at 4.5 inches, but otherwise has similar specs, although its microSD slot only takes cards up to 32GB in size.

A little strangely, the Agora is a collaboration between Kogan and BenQ — even keeping the BenQ logo. The rear of the Agora and the lock screen are branded “Kogan By BenQ”.

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Nic Healey/CNET

The screen size and resolution are the same as the earlier Kogan — a 5-inch IPS panel at 1,280×720 pixels — but the 4G unit is a slim 135g (4.8 ounces, down from 153g, or 5.4 ounces) and measures 143 by 73 by 8.5mm (5.6 by 2.9 by 0.3 inches).

The quad-core CPU runs at 1.2GHz, the GPU is an Adreno 305 and there’s 1GB of RAM. Memory is just 8GB, but the microSD slot can be expanded up to 64GB and the phone runs on Android Kit Kat. The rear camera is 8 megapixels, with the front camera coming in at 2 megapixels.

I’ve had the Agora 4G in the office for a short time now and I’m quite impressed with the overall build quality. The red accents are surprisingly nice — it feels a little like a Nexus, but it’s also quite light and slim.

In terms of general use, the Agora is reasonably zippy and certainly the only the time it feels sluggish is during its boot up sequence, which takes ages by today’s standards.

The screen is a little dull for an IPS panel but quite serviceable — at least until you’re in bright sunlight, when it becomes extremely hard to read.

Similarly, the camera is nothing to email home about, but would be fine for shots heading to Twitter or Facebook. It’s just not going to be replacing your dSLR any time soon.

Of course, these aren’t big issues when you’re taking the price into account and in the short time we’ve used it, the Agora does feel like a lot of bang for not too many bucks.

We’ll have a full review up soon, so stay tuned.

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