You can now get a 7-inch 3G Android phablet for just $54 in China

No, that's not a bulk purchasing price. According to the folks at Beijing chip designer NuFront, some Chinese retailers are now selling 7-inch 3G phablets -- powered by NuFront's TL7689 chipset -- to consumers for as low as CN¥330 or about $54 per piece (the prices pictured above are for distributors). That converts to a mere $6 profit for every device sold, which is apparently the norm in the affordable market. On paper, though, it's still a seemingly complete package: you get a 1,024 x 600 LCD screen, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, 0.3MP/2MP cameras, a 1,800mAh battery and even HSPA+ connectivity.

As you'd expect, the build quality, screen and cameras leave a lot to be desired, and likewise with the 1.2GHz, 40nm quad-core processor -- it's dual Cortex-A9 and dual Cortex-M3. For an extra $20, you get a version with a bigger 2,800mAh cell plus a slightly better screen quality. While most of us here won't be using one of these as our main tablet and let alone our main phone, we can at least appreciate how far we've come: just five years ago a 7-inch Android tablet -- the WiFi-only kind as well -- would cost you $399! Looking ahead, NuFront is already working on its own 4G-enabled 28nm octa-core solution for next year, which is key to delivering the 4G experience to the entry markets.