Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November high end smartphone buyers guide

If you are looking at a flagship phone these days, there really is only one great choice in the Philippine market right now and all the newer devices announced in the past month are not really here yet.

Apple's iPhone 4S is here, but only through the grey market. Starting at over 45K, with a service only warranty, we really cannot recommend this phone. Once it hits the carriers, and hopefully is offered by the local Apple stores unlocked, you can expect the prices to go down by 20-33%. If you have been holding out for the new iPhone, wait a bit longer.

On the Windows Phone front, HTC's massive 4.7-inch Titan is available in the grey market, but at about 33K, and with just a single core processor, it really looks to expensive and can expect a large price drop one it is launched officially.

For the die hard Nokia fan who hates Microsoft, you have the MeeGo powered Nokia N9  at Php24,995. But the MeeGo OS is really dead. Sure Nokia will update it, but do not accept a thriving app market around it. Maybe Android apps will get ported to it. But if you are buying this phone to run Android apps, its processor and graphics are at the same level as you could find in a Android phone a 60% of the price. If you love the look of this phone or prefer a Nokia because of its build quality and its extensive service support network in the Philippines, you should gust wait for the Windows Phone 7.5 Nokia 800.

Looking at the Android front, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus has been announced but not yet released and we are not sure when this phone is coming to the Philippines. We do expect by December this year or January next year. Similarly, Motorola's new RAZR has yet to hit Philippine shores. 

So what we have in this category right now are pretty much the same offerings we have had for the past six months. The good news is that, a dual core smartphone from one of the top manufacturers can be had for as low as Php23,500 in the form of LG Optimus 2x P990. But if you are willing to spend 23.5K on a smartphone, might as well add a few hundred and get the HTC Sensation at Php24,400 with its larger and higher resolution 4.3-inch (540 x 960) screen. Once you decided it is okay to spend 24.4K on a smartphone, than Samsung Galaxy S II at Php25,950 looks like a much better deal.
The Samsung Galaxy S II has 16GB of internal storage, which is twice that of the LG LG Optimus 2x P990 and ten times that of HTC's Sensation. The Sensation comes with a free 8GB MicroSD card but that is still not the same as having more internal storage. The Super AMOLED Plus display of the Samsung Galaxy S II is by far the best display among the three phones. The Samsung Galaxy S II is also the fastest both in term of processor and graphics speed and HSDPA+ connectivity. On top of all that, it is the thinnest of the three.

Basically, for typical smartphone stuff, there really only is one good option at the high end, and that is the Samsung Galaxy S II.
Should you even look at anything else? If you really need 3D video capture on your phone to create content for your 3D TV or laptop, you may want to look at the LG 3D P920 at 26K. There is also another 3G option, the HTC Evo 3G at about the same price, but that LG 3D P920 has superior 3D video capture.

Audiophiles may want to look at the HTC Sensation XE, which is a beefed up Sensation with a faster processor and bigger battery designed to narrow the gap with the Samsung Galaxy S II. The Samsung Galaxy S II is the better choice as a smartphone, but the real draw here is bundled Beats headphones. Beats and other premium quality headphones cost a lot so having a pair basically bundled in for free makes it a very good deal. Music lovers may find that the Php26,300 Sensation XE is the better choice for them.

Our recommendations, the Samsung Galaxy S II, for music lovers the HTC Sensation XE and those who need 3D video capture, the LG 3D P920. Another very good option is to wait a month or two. With the Apple iPhone exclusivity agreement with Globe having expired, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus just on the horizon and Nokia Windows Phone incoming, I expect this category to get very exciting, very soon.


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