Kogan Agora Smartphone Hands-On: Being Cheap Has Never Felt So Good

Kogan Agora Smartphone Hands-On: Being Cheap Has Never Felt So Good

Kogan used the annual CES trade show to make a bit of noise last week, arriving in Sin City to drop his latest smartphone offering: the Kogan Agora. At $149, this thing is probably the best deal you’re likely to get on an Android smartphone for some time.

First things first: this isn’t the first outing for the Agora smartphone from Kogan. Way back in 2009, Kogan tried to launch an Agora smartphone but ran into what he calls “last minute problems” that forced him to walk away from the product. Now that Kogan Mobile is out there, it seems only right for the outspoken Kogan to give the Agora another go.

So how is this new Agora?

The Agora (Greek word for “marketplace”) is a modestly specced Android smartphone, packing in a 1GHz dual-core Cortex A9 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of on-board storage and a 5-megapixel camera. The screen measures 5-inches on the diagonal with a resolution of 800×480. It also has dual-SIM capabilities. The device doesn’t support 4G, instead one slot is 2G and one slot is 3G. The Agora is running Android 4.0.4 out of the box. Ruslan Kogan told us that he’s not sure about future updates to Jelly Bean and onwards but is still in negotiations with the as yet undisclosed manufacturer.

You’ll also get a free Kogan Mobile SIM in the box when you buy the Agora. That means you’ll have a new phone number with $100 worth of calls and 100MB of free data to get you started.

We went hands-on with the Agora in Vegas, and initially, we’re very impressed.

The stock version of Android will be a welcome addition for many and it thankfully doesn’t slow down the device like a third-party skin might. The specs are great considering the price and the Agora actually looks like the first-generation Galaxy Note.

Dual-SIM compatibility is also a really nice addition. There aren’t many phones on the market with dual-SIM capabilities right now. The drawback here is that one of the slots is 3G and one is 2G, with no 4G in sight. You’ll have to decide which one you want your data from so that you can prioritise.

Also, while we’re on drawbacks, it’s worth noting that the camera isn’t stellar, the device is quite heavy and the screen leaves a bit to be desired when it comes to the viewing angle. For $149 though, are you going to complain?

The Agora is available for pre-order now and it ships in February for $149.