Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May 2011 high-end smartphone buyers guide

So what do we like priced at over Php20,000 in terms of smartphones? At the outset we should mention that in previous guides, we defined high end phones as those costing over Php25K. We are adjusting our classification downwards as newer smartphones are costing less than before... which should be good news.

In our past two monthly buyers I have been recommending whichever among our favorite 2010 was available at a cut-down bargain price. I dropped Apple's iPhone 4 because it still costs over 30K, and anyone thinking of spending that much is best off waiting for a dual core phone, it not the iPhone 5 itself.

As prices have dropped the HTC Desire HD and the Samsung Galaxy S have been my top recommendations at the high end smartphone segment. Today with the HTC Desire HD available as low as Php23,500 with a 12-month manufactures warranty, and the Samsung Galaxy S at Php 23,250, also with a 12-month manufactures warranty, we would give the edge to the Galaxy S.

While I personally prefer the Desire HD for its aluminum unibody construction and Sense user interface, I think most buyers would be happy to trade these away in favor of the Super Amoled screen and more powerful graphics performance of the Galaxy S. 

This month, we have a new Sheriff in town. Two actually.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc X12 @Php26,300

Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc X12. Internally, the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc X12 is powered by the same 1GHz Scorpion processor, Adreno 205 GPU, Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon you find inside the HTC Desire HD. In fact, the Desire HD has more RAM (768MB v. 512MB) and more internal storage (1GB v. 320MB). The XPERIA Arc X12 4.2-inch screen is a tad bit smaller than the Desire HD's 4.3-inch screen.

Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S, the Adreno 205 GPU of the XPERIA Arc X12 cannot match the graphics prowess of the PowerVR SGX540 unit found in the Galaxy S. The XPERIA Arc X12's Bravia engine powering the LCD is no match for the Super AMOLED screen on the Samsung.

Price wise, the Php26,300, with a 12-month manufactures warranty, the XPERIA Arc X12, is the most expensive of the three. So why do we recommend it.

a) The Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc X12 combines something which is pretty hard to find these days, a modern operating system and a great camera. Whether you pick an Android, iOS or Windows Phone 7 device, you will have a hard time getting one with a great camera. These days if you want a great camera on a smartphone, you are left with Nokia's N8.

The  has an excellent 8MP shooter which will put to shame the cameras on the Desire HD, Galaxy S, the iPhone 4 and any of the Windows Phone 7 units in the market today.

b) The Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc X12 has HDMI out. Enough said.

c) The XPERIA Arc X12 is all of just 8.7 mm thick, which is substantially thinner than the 11.8 mm of the Desire HD and the 9.9 mm of the Galaxy S.

What we miss on this phone is a front camera...

If the camera function is not that important to you, the Galaxy S and Desire HD (you really have to try HTC Sense UI to understand why I love it so much) might be better options.

HTC Desire S @Php21,700

HTC Desire S. The HTC Desire S is an HTC Desire, updated to Desire HD specifications with the same 3.7-inch S-LCD screen. At Php21,700, with a 12-month manufactures warranty, the Desire S cost just 1.8K less than the monster 4.3-inch screened Desire HD. So why pick the Desire S:

a) The Desire S has a larger 1450 mAh battery than the 1230 mAh unit found on the Desire HD. This (plus the smaller screen) should give you 20% longer battery life.

b) It has a front camera, which is part of the reference Android Gingerbread (2.3) specifications. Apps might take advantage of this in the future, even if you do not care about video calls. 

Still with the Desire HD being priced so close (not to mention) the Galaxy S, it is a though call.

Samsung Galaxy S @Php23,250

HTC Desire HD @Php23,500

Need a physical QWERTY keyboard?

Some of us cannot make the transition to pure touchscreen, and the manufacturers are happy to meet our needs:

HTC Desire Z. HTC offers a 3.7-inch Android with one killer feature, a phyical keyboard with an innovative z-hinge. While some have felt that the z-hinge may be flimsy, so far no horror stories have come up about someone breaking one. The z-hinge is innovative because instead of sliding the keyboard straight out which results in a flat keyboard, it "lifts" the phone over the keyboard allowing for raised keys. Basically, is it is the best slide out keyboard I have ever tried.

Equipped with a 3.7 inch 480 x 800 resolution screen, a 800MHz Qualcomm processor and 512GB or RAM and 1.5GB of memory with a bundled 8GB MicroSD card. The price of this one varies wildly from seller to seller. But you can find it Php21,500 with an official HTC Warranty. For the money, I would go with the Desire S, but if you want a physical keyboard, this is the best smartphone with a physical keyboard in my opinion.

Update: We now have our mid-range (15K-20K) guide. Before spending you Php20K plus of cash, we suggest you give it a look. It is amazing what you can get for 17K these days.


  1. Hey man, what about the Galaxy SL? It's much cheaper and yet very similar to the Galaxy S.

  2. That phone comes into our mid-priced smartphone buyers guide. We used to write the entire guide as one article, but I decided to try and break it up into four articles. In retrospect, this looks like a bad idea...

    When we write the mid-range guide in a day or two, we will look at the Galaxy SL and the Desire and compare it to the higher price models.


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