Archos is breaking away from its typical tablet release schedule to launch a line of Android-based smartphones, starting at $100 USD. The first three will be launched in Q213 and sport screen sizes ranging between 3.5-inches to 5.3-inches, and a pure Google Certified install of Android, meaning no bloat and an unaltered user interface. Best of all, they'll arrive unlocked and feature dual SIM flexibility supporting 2G and 3G+ connectivity.
“The smartphone market is shifting, as SIM-free sales versus subsidized sales are increasing, and Archos is prepared to respond, as we can offer retail channels affordable, unlocked and feature-rich smartphones without the need to subsidize,” says Loïc Poirier, CEO of Archos.
First up to bat is the $99.99 Archos 35 Carbon, sporting a 3.5-inch IPS multi-touch capacitive screen with a 320 x 480 resolution. It comes packed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 SoC clocked at 1 GHz (7225A), 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage. Other features include a VGA camera on the front and back, Bluetooth v3 + EDR, Wi-Fi connectivity, an FM radio, A-GPS and a microSD card slot for up to 32 GB of additional storage. Stock Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" is the OS of choice.
Next up is the Archos 50 Platinum, costing $219.99 USD. Naturally it's a bit meatier in the specs with a 5-inch IPS 5-point capacitive qHD touchscreen powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Play SoC (8225Q) clocked at 1.2 GHz and 1 GB of RAM. Also included is 4 GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot for an additional 64 GB, Bluetooth v3.0, a 2MP camera on the front, an 8MP camera on the back, FM Stereo and more. This phone uses stock Android 4.1.2 ''Jelly Bean''.
Finally there's the Archos 53 Platinum for $249.99, strutting with its 5.3-inch IPS 5-point capacitive qHD touchscreen, the same quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Play SoC clocked at 1.2 GHz and 1 GB of RAM. It also includes 4 GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot for up to 64 GB of extra storage, Bluetooth v3.0, an FM radio, A-GPS and more. There's also a 2MP camera on the front and an 8MP camera on the rear, backed by Google's stock Android 4.1.2 ''Jelly Bean'' OS.
"Smartphones and tablets are interrelated markets that have quickly crossed over with the arrival of 'phablets' - half-phone, half-tablet devices," Poirier added. "It only makes sense that this should be our next phase of products as this would be a natural fit for our brand and long term growth."
Unfortunately, the phones are initially launching in Europe at the end of May. So far the company hasn't revealed when it plans to release versions of the new smartphones here in the States, but they'll likely trickle in later this year like most other Archos products. These may use the Snapdragon S4 Play 8625Q which features Qualcomm's integrated multimode UMTS/CDMA modem – the 8225Q chip used in this current European batch has an integrated UMTS modem only.