LG’s $60 Aristo aims to satisfy growing demand for low-cost 4G smartphones

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Affordable handsets were among the most popular category of phones last year. Research firm Gartner attributed a 3.9 percent market growth in the first quarter of 2016 to “demand for low-cost smartphones” and “affordable 4G smartphones.” And analysts at IDC report that budget devices like Samsung’s J-series helped drive a 1 percent increase in the number of smartphone shipments last year.

It’s no surprise, then, that smartphone makers like LG are doubling down on the low-cost strategy. On Tuesday, the company announced the LG Aristo, an entry-level device set to launch on MetroPCS later this month.

There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about the LG Aristo’s hardware, but that’s sort of the point — at $59 after instant rebate, it’s one of the cheapest smartphones in MetroPCS’s catalog. It sports a 5-inch 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels) 2.5D LCD screen with “in-cell” technology that LG says gives it “brilliant color” and “remarkable clarity.” And it pairs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 425, a midrange 1.4GHz quad-core model with an Adreno 308 graphics chip, with 1.5GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a microSD slot, Bluetooth 4.2, and a 4G-capable radio.

It sports a 13-megapixel rear shooter (with digital zoom up to 4x) and 5-megapixel selfie camera. There’s a fingerprint sensor on board, and a 2410mAh removable battery. And the Aristo packs convenience features like Gesture Interval Shot, which lets users raise a hand and make a fist to take four selfies in sequence; Selfie Light, which illuminates a soft light around the Aristo’s photo preview for selfies; and Auto Shot, which takes selfies automatically using face detection.

The LG Aristo will be MetroPCS’ first Android 7.0 Nougat phone when it launches there on January 23. It’s coming to T-Mobile on January 25 for $0 down and $6 per month for 24 months, which amounts to about $144. For a limited time, T-Mobile is offering 25 percent off a Tech21 protective case and screen protector for the Aristo when purchased together.

The LG Aristo may not pack the specifications of budget smartphones like, say, ZTE’s ZMax Pro, but it’s significantly less expensive — $144 versus $180. That gap alone is likely to move units off shelves. If price is your most important consideration, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal.

Deals like the LG Aristo speak in part to MetroPCS’ recent success. The prepaid carrier represents an increasing percentage of parent T-Mobile’s subscriber accrual over the past few months. “We’re killing it in prepaid,” Legere said during a recent earnings call. “The majority of our growth is on MetroPCS, as opposed to other brands.”

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