Mobile start-up Sion has developed a quad-core Android smartphone named the V1sion that it hopes to bring to the market unlocked and without a contract for under US$299. The company claims its performance bests that of a Galaxy S3 thanks to its Samsung Exynos 4 Quad (aka Exynos 4412) processor. The company says that the compelling bank-for-buck ratio is possible using crowdfunding, and that the number of backers will determine the final price.

Approaching market readiness, the phone's current specs include a 4.5-in 1280 x 720 display (at 326 ppi), 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage (though in an email to Gizmag, Sion's Jerry Lao suggests that this will be raised to 32 GB). The V1sion has a 0.3-megapixel front camera and an 8-megapixel rear camera, which Sion claims beats the performance of a certain leading smartphone's iNtegrated camera.

The phone measures 134 x 68 x 11.8 mm (5.28 x 2.68 x 0.46 in) and weighs 134 g (4.7 oz), a little under the S3 on all counts except for thickness. At 2,050 mAh, the battery is a squeak under the S3's 2,100 mAh of storage.

Though not LTE-enabled, the V1sion is nevertheless geared for HSPA+/WCDMA and GSM connectivity. It's also Wi-Fi enabled (802.11b/g/n), and packin' in the sensor department, with GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and ambient light sensor all included.

Sion says the V1sion will ship with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, with an upgrade to 4.2 Jelly Bean planned for the future.

Lao is part of the team behind the promising yet ill-fated ADZero project to create a bamboo smartphone. Comparing specs, it appears that the V1sion basically is the ADzero, but without the bamboo skin. The details are nearly identical, down to the dimensions, battery storage and the main camera's use of a ring flash.

According to Lao, Sion is seeking funding to assist with final manufacturing costs. At the time of writing it's possible to snag a "super early bird special" which guarantees a V1sion for $199. The next best option is the regular early bird, limited to 200 backers, which guarantees a maximum price of $299. This will be reduced if sufficient units are sold. Otherwise backers place a $199 deposit, and pay the difference when the final price is set. The campaign is US-only.

Sion thinks it will need to ship more than 5,000 units to achieve a final price of $299 for all backers, and over 10,000 to come in under that figure. So far the project has a very long way to go towards its $300,000 goal. It's certainly an ambitious target, but no less so than the project's aim overall. Certainly the market would be no worse off for an affordable contract-free high performance smartphone, should Sion secure its funding.

Sources: Sion, Indiegogo