I read that sonys software was meant to be alright. Guess I read wrong. I get your argument and I know they are different OS's but WP8 runs all the above apps I mentioned as smooth a butter on 512MB RAM. I just thought by now android would too. I guess I was wrong. Its making think should I stick with WP8
Actually no, WP8 devices with 512MB of RAM will not run any modern apps which require quite a lot of memory, that includes new games from Gameloft (e.g MC4) or even things like Temple Run.
Im not to fussed about future updates if I am honest. I just wanted a phone that runs android 4.0 smoothly, to use simple apps on 512MB RAM with a screen size no bigger than 4". Because I wanted to try the OS. I guess what I've learned is that's impossible with android which is strange to me.
Android 4.0 ICS is also not that smooth compared to Jelly Bean with Project Butter (vsync & triple buffering) which results in an overall smoother feel across the user interface. The fact is that most cheap Android devices are considered budget smartphones which will deliver acceptable performance in most basic tasks, they were not designed to even run modern versions of Android (512MB is a terrible amount).
piece of crap that have under powered specs that don't even allow you a smooth experience when doing a simple task like facebook (which is a pretty simple task for a smartphone).
The official FB App for Android is bloated to death, it uses 50MB+ of RAM and will slow down any phone with 512MB of RAM.
And on a side note to the other phones you mentioned like the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2, while the specs meet my requirements I think they look horrible and the UI is just terrible. I like stoke android the most out of them all.
You can always install another launcher like Holo
Rule of thumb: Get something decent if you're willing to enter the Android ecosystem.