Don’t buy these phones (roundup)

It’s no easy task birthing a cell phone, but despite the hard work that goes into designing and manufacturing these handsets, things can go (very) awry. If you’ve been thinking about picking up one of these the next time you head out of the house, well, you might want to reconsider.

Sony Xperia Ion

Sarah Tew/CNET)

Sony Xperia Ion (ATT), July 2012
Half a year ago, there was nothing we would have loved more than getting the Sony Xperia Ion in our hands. Oh, how times have changed. Despite the generous $99 price tag for an
Android smartphone of such promise, Sony’s comeback is the thing of cautionary tales. The 12-megapixel camera and high-def video reek of dashed hopes and underdelivered promises, and the slower processor holds back the otherwise stylish 4G LTE phone. Read the full review.

ZTE Score M

Josh Miller/CNET)

ZTE Score M (MetroPCS), March 2012
MetroPCS has some of the slowest data speeds around, which automatically makes its phones less appealing than other networks’ options. Add to that the fact that ZTE’s phones are usually lower-end models designed specifically to be affordable when sold at retail price with prepaid carriers like Metro. So add a cheaper screen and more sluggish processor to slow data speeds and there’s little reason to pursue this Android handset. Read the full review.

Pantech Swift

Josh Miller/CNET)

Pantech Swift (ATT), June 2012
It looks like the perfect little messaging phone, but the Pantech Swift does nobody any favors with its unresponsive screen, tired processor, and wonky e-mail app. Read the full review.

Samsung Brightside

Verizon Wireless)

Samsung Brightside (Verizon), March 2012
Why, Samsung, why? I appreciate feature phones that don’t require customers to pay recurring data fees, and the keyboard is good! I’m just not buying the exposed menu, the mediocre camera software, and the relatively high price — and I don’t think that customers will, either. Read the full review.

Pantech Hotshot

Josh Miller/CNET)

Pantech Hotshot (Verizon), October 2011
There’s nothing wrong with being a feature phone — as long as it’s not trying to be a smartphone. Although the Hotshot makes decent calls, its laggy processor and unresponsive touch screen proved to be too frustrating. Rather than creating a mediocre hybrid of smartphone and feature phone, it’s best to make a solid product of just one or the other. Read the full review.

Compare these phones head to head.

Editors’ note: This post was originally published March 9, 2012, and was updated April 4 and July 20.

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