No doubt about it, the mid-range market is heating up, even in places where unlocked and contract-free phones have typically undersold. This morning Chinese smartphone maker Huawei announced the Ascend P8 Lite, a new offering for the US that has its sights set on competitors like the Moto G. The $250 phone is available right now from Huawei's online store in black or white, and it doesn't look like the company is interested in selling through conventional carriers.
The Ascend P8 Lite occupies the middle ground in basically all its specs. The 5-inch screen is 720p, which is a bit low for the current market, and the Snapdragon 615 chipset and 2GB of RAM walks the line between the high power of the the 800 series and the more conservative 400 series. The rear camera is a respectable 13MP with an F/2.2 lens, paired with a 5MP selfie-grade front-facing camera. The battery is a disappointing 2200mAh, but it can be removed, which is something of a feat considering the slim 7.62-millimeter body. The body seems to be the biggest draw for the phone: slim bezels and a unibody design with a metal-style back (though Huawei doesn't mention whether it's real steel or aluminum or simply "metal-ish") make for a clean and understated phone.
The GSM phone packs a variety of LTE bands: 2, 4, 5, 12, and 17, which means it should work with both AT&T and T-Mobile LTE service. It can work with both at the same time, in fact, since this is a dual-SIM phone. Storage is the standard 16GB, but can be augmented with a MicroSD card (not a given for a phone so thin), and the software is Android 4.4 underneath Huawei's EMUI skin. Not terrible, but a bit underwhelming since Lollipop has been available for more than half a year - shoppers might also want to consider the OnePlus One, currently (erratically) on sale for $250 for the 16GB model.