How to make a $99 phone to look like a $949 phone

If you don’t want to spend a whole lot of cash, but are after a budget device that has the look and feel of a more premium model, here are a few ways you can pull it off.

Everything we’re doing today can be done with an Android handset, but for the purposes seen of this article, we’re doing it with the $99 Huawei IDEOS X3.

This budget handset replaces the X1 (that phone now drops to $71) and has a small 3.2 inch capacitive touchscreen, plastic body, 3 megapixel camera on the back, microSD slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, GPS, and Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

Huawei's IDEOS X3 might not look like an iPhone from the outside, but with an app, we can make it seem like one on the inside.

These days, that’s a pretty decent feature set, though the phone by no means compares to fast and multimedia friendly handsets form Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG, Sony, and Apple.

It may be enough for you, however, and you just might not like how your operating system looks.

We can fix this quite easily, however, thanks to a little piece of technology called a “homescreen replacement application”, a form of software that can change the homescreen design, menu, icons, and shortcut dock on an Android device.

Many of these solutions are free, although some may cost a couple of bucks for extra features. All are currently available through the Android market and will change the way you interact with your Android smartphone.

*Homescreen images were taken on the Samsung Galaxy S2, a handset with a bigger screen resolution and the ability to capture screenshots, a feature not normally seen on Android handsets.

A very Windows feel

After the look of a Windows Phone 7 handset? There’s an app for that. Launcher7 is a homescreen replacement application designed to emulate the look and feel of a Windows Phone 7 device.

It keeps the the easy to use icons, the simple colour scheme, and still allows you to take advantage of Android’s Market.

The free edition keeps ads running at the bottom, but an ad-free version can be purchased for $1.99.