Thursday, November 17, 2011

November entry level smartphone buyers guide

If you are in the market for a entry level smartphone the offerings are better than ever. How do we define entry level these days. A price of below 12K. There are no iPhones or Windows Mobile devices at this level, so basically you have the option of a Android or Symbian device. Given that the Symbian operating system is on its way to retirement, we would recommend an Android, although these is one nice Symbian offering we think you should consider.

Androids. What should you target in a budget Android. It would be really nice to have a screen of more or less 3.2-inches in size or better. Resolution should be 320 x 480 or higher. Yep. Can't wait to be flamed by the Samsung Galaxy Crowd.

Anyway, lower resolutions lead to a certain degree of app incompatibility like touchscreen controls in games sometimes being "displayed" beyond the bounds of the screen. Don't expect much in terms of internal storage, so it should at least be a Android 2.2 (Froyo) so that you can install some apps to the SD Card.

Globe Telecom has an interesting offering, the Globe Cloudfone Ice which is a Android phone which comes installed with Android 2.1 by default but is upgradeable to Android 2.2. This is actually a Huawei U8500, which is pretty unremarkable Android phone but it does have a 3.2-inch screen with a 320 x 480 resolution at Php4,990. But it is not on stock with Globe Telecom right now, so let us move on to something else.

One of our old favorites, the LG Optimus One, after holding the fort for a year as the top entry level smartphone is disappearing from the market. In it place we have the LG Optimus Net P690. It has a decent set of features with 512MB of RAM, a 800MHz processor (does not support Adobe Flash Plug-in), 150MB or internal storage backed-up by a 2GB MicroSD card, a 3.2 MP autofocus camera and WiFi and HSDPA 3.6 Mbps connectivity. The operating system is Android 2.3.3. Available at Php8,700 it is not a bad way to go.

If you are okay with Smart Communications at Php9,900 which has their Netphone. The Netphone is actually a ZTE Blade which has been widely sold on the Orange network. It has features similar to the LG Optimus Net, but comes with a larger 3.5-inch 480 x 800 resolution screen in exchange a slower 600MHz processor and being limited Android 2.2 (no 2.3 upgrade in sight). If you are okay with Smart and don't mind spending a bit more, I would recommend this as a better option than the  LG Optimus Net. 

Maybe the best option is the Sony Ericsson Xperia mini. The screen is just 3-inches in size, smaller than we would like but the resolution is a decent 320 x 480 and it has a 1GHz Snapdragon breathing inside. It has 320MB of internal storage, which while nothing to crow about, is double of what the other entry level phones offer. The 5MP camera is also as good as it gets at this price range and it does 720p video capture. Not bad at all for Php9,550. If you can live with the small screen, this is the best of the bunch.

If you are willing to add 1K more there is the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman at Php10,650. Essentially the same phone with a different case. For some reason it feels better in hand.

Symbian. If you want one last Nokia Symbian phone, the N500 is not a bad way to go. 

It has a 3.2-inch nHD (360 x 640) capacitative display, 2GB or internal storage, WiFi and HSDPAconnectivity and GPS, all for Php8,750. 

If you are an Android, Bada, BlackBerry, iOS or Windows phone user, it is hard to recommend this phone or any other Symbian Nokia phone for the matter. No point moving to a ecosystem which is about to be phased out soon. On the other hand, if you are a long time Nokia user, and rely on Nokia apps and services, this phone is priced low enough so as not to make you regret not investing in a different ecosystem earlier. It would be the perfect phone for one last dance with Symbian.

Decision. Go with one of the Sony phones.


  1. wow. Nice selection, Sir. :) Thanks again for posting! Keep it up and more power to your blog! :D

  2. what about lenovo a60, sir? :) is it worth its price? It's around almost P8,k and at par (I think) with LG Optimus One specs-wise. I'm looking forward to your comments/opinion sir. Thanks!

  3. We have a short write up on the Lenovo A60 here:

    All-in-all it looks pretty good, and if you want a dual sim phone it is probably a decent choice.

    But I have not been able to identify the manufacturer. So like the Cherry mobile phones we do not include them in our recommendations. More because of the inability to do research on them than anything else.


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