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.


    the question i would like to know is if you can run the sims simultaneously...

    ive seen dual sim phone solutions before, but u could only run one at a time, swapping back and forth without swapping sims...

    ie, can i make a call on one sim while receiving calls/sms from another at the same time?

      In the previous post "Kogan’s Low-Cost, Dual-SIM Android Smartphone Is Real" I believe it mentions that it's active dual sim, so you can run one on 3G and one on 2G at the same time

    I am really tempted to get one of these, mainly because of the price point. What is the screen like? Do you notice the low resolution?

      Yeah i wouldnt, reminds me of HP disaster tablet. $99.00 Bought one for the price and threw it out couple days ago, not even worth trying to flog it off on ebay. It was slow and really buggy. From the specs and what i have seen on this phone, big chance you will be doing the same. You will be impressed for bout 24 hrs and then start pulling your hair out.

        You shouldn't have tossed that tablet. I know it is crap but I would have bought it on gumtree if it were cheap enough.

        You threw away an HP webos tablet? Without even trying to ebay it? haaaaaaahahaha

        Never mind the fact there's a small-but-extremely-loyal fanbase out there who would *definitely* have paid 99 bucks, and possibly even more than you spent since they're not made anymore.

        That's gotta be the biggest tech laugh of the day. Also, those stamps with the print upside down? Yeah, chuck those.

        I sold my HP tablet on eBay for $350. I can't believe you just threw it out!

      Not sure if I totally agree with Daveo, these specs should easily run stock android very smoothly, especially since the res is so low. And at $150 makes it very attractive.

      The pixel density on the Kogan smartphone is 186ppi, which is quite low compared to the best Androids (e.g. the Sony Xperia Z, HTC Butterfly, Huawei Ascend D2) that have 440ppi and full HD 1080p. However, 186ppi is good enough for most people. It's the same pixel density as what is found in the iPad mini.

    dual sim dual sim dual sim!

      that was 3

        or maybe its 2 phones next to each other one with dual and one with single and 4g ? :)

    Sounds decent for the price, but that screen resolution would be hard to cope with. I couldn't handle 800x480 on a device so large. If it were 4" it might be just tolerable, but at 5" you'll see pixels and jaggies galore. If there were a 720p version with 1GB of ram for $200, I'd probably buy one just for fun.

    However the other thing that could be troubling is future software updates. If its running vanilla Android, then it should really launch with the latest version. Particularly given Jellybean has been out for ages now, and Kogan says he is uncertain about its software upgrade path. And who do the software updates come from if the manufacturer is currently a mystery?

    I have the Kogan Agora 10" tablet. Yes it's like comparing apples to oranges, but I've had this for almost a year now and no updates past 4.0.4 have been forthcoming. Granted this was running a 1gig single core so would struggle with JB even with its 1gig ram. Not to mention after further inspection. It's base board is really nothing more than a modified cheap tablet from Shenzen that’s badged under various other names. Great for ‘very’ casual use, but that’s it.

    That being said I doubt the phone version will be all that different support wise, so expect a lot of users rooting this phone and switching to custom roms shortly after unboxing. Also plenty of Shenzen knock offs floating around ebay with similar specs and at a similar price. I suspect it's being sourced from one of these manufacturers and badged with the Kogan stamp (Looks very similar to the S2 knockoff badged as a HDCA1900), but with no details around on it's sourcing it's purely speculation. Important to note too of the number of cheap dual sim phones brought in from China, I'm yet to see one run sim cards concurrently, especially under $300.

    I want to say great things about it, really I do. So until I get my hands on one, take my opinion with a grain of salt. I will say the sim card supplied is a bonus, plus from all accounts the mobile plan on offer using the Telstra network isn’t half bad either.

    BTW its probably more accurate to define agora as a "public square" and not "a marketplace".

    I think the links below are to the same phone that kogan is selling, the "Star N8000+"
    The specs seem to be the same.



    Does it have access to Google Play?
    Dual sims would be handy to run a work number and a private one without carrying 2 phones.

    i believe i had used the exact same one (chinese knock off of the galaxy note), with the exact specs etc... a few months ago.... it was usable... until all the 512mb ram got used up... (trust me, it is very quick, especially when whatsapp skype and then chrome got opened)
    and the screen went wrong after 2 months, had to send it back to China to be fixed

    just a minor point mentioned in the article re the Kogan starter pack 'you will have a new phone number' - i got two of these for my daughters and they were easily able to port over their existing prepaid number so you can get a new number if you want one but you don;t have to. In case you are wondering, I live in the country an the reception etc for the Kogan service is excellent. Data downloads very good speed for 3G.

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