Monday, January 16, 2012

January 2012 high end smartphone buyers guide

Where do we start? Lets start at the most expensive.


Apple iPhone 4S. The Apple iPhone 4S is the most expensive smartphone in the country, but good postpaid options make acquisition relatively painless. Given its high price, it specifications are fairly modest with a 3.5-inch (640 x 960 resolution), 512 MB of RAM, a 800 MHz dual core A5 processor, HSDPA 14.4 Mbps connectivity, an excellent 8 MP camera and a VGA secondary camera. The camera can take pictures with almost zero shutter lag. Just 0.5 seconds between shots. Internal storage starts at 16 GB with 32 GB and 64 GB models available.  These modest specifications are enough to run iOS 5 fast. 

iOS 5 is also a much improve operating system, integrating cloud services, Android like notifications and widgets (only two at present) and the SIRI virtual assistant.
Ultimately, whether you like this phone or not depends on how you feel about the 3.5-inch screen. If you prefer this size of phone, it really has no direct competition, Android phone with more or less this screen size being mid-level offerings. The Apple iPhone 4S is the best mid sized smartphone.

Cash price: Php33,200 (Smart)/Php37,690 (Globe) for the 16GB model

Free: At Plan 2499

Recommended plan: 

- Smart at Data Plan 2000 with Php2,500 cash out (this plan comes with unlimited data. Smart Plan 2499 is capped at 1 GB).
- Globe Data Plan 1799 with Php4,800 cash out. If you can spend more, it make more sense to add on services like unlimited calls and SMS within the Globe Network rather than avail of Plan 2,499.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus.  The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is Google current generation reference phone. This phone features two new things, the new Android 4.0 operating system and a large 4.65 inch Super AMOLED HD (720 x 1280) screen. The phone has a button less interface.

The specifications seem impressive enough with 1 GB of RAM, a dual core 1.2 GHz A9 processor on a TI OMAP 4460 chipset, HSDPA+ 21.1 Mbps connectivity, an excellent 5 MP camera and a 1.3 MP secondary camera (which can do 720 p video recording). The 5 MP camera feautres zero shutter lag and single motion panorama shots. Internal storage starts at 16 GB with a 32 GB model available (but not in the Philippines).

As impressive as this may sound, dual core 1.2 GHz A9 processor on a TI OMAP 4460 chipset is not a fast as the Exynos based system on the seven month old Samsung Galaxy S II.The Galaxy S II has a better 8 MP primary camera and a also comes with a 2 MP secondary camera. For storage, the Galaxy S II has 16 GB of internal storage expandable via MicroSD card. 

In other words, it is not a Galaxy S II killer. The main reason to get this phone is the 4.65-inch screen. In a way also, this is a limiting factor. While the phone is only 8.9 mm thick, it is still 67.9 mm wide so it may not be ideal for persons with smaller hands.

Cash price: NA
Free: At Smart Data 2000 (starting January 21, 2012)

Samsung Galaxy Note. If you are looking for the phone with killer specifications, it is the Samsung Galaxy Note. This phone has a large 5.3-inch Super AMOLED HD (800 x 1280) screen.

This Android phone runs on 1 GB of RAM, a dual core 1.4 GHz A9 processor on a Exynos chipset, HSDPA+ 21.1 Mbps connectivity, an excellent 8 MP camera and a 2 MP secondary camera Internal storage starts at 16 GB with a 32 GB model available (but not in the Philippines), which is expandable via a MicroSD card. It also comes with a stylus which brings added functionality. Right now it runs on Android 2.3.5, but an Android 4.0 update is guaranteed.
It is a monster phone with monster specifications. It really depends on you want a large almost tablet like device. If you do, this one is probably the best choice.
Cash price: As low as Php31,500 open line with a 1 year official warranty

Free: Free at Smart Data Plan 2000


Samsung Galaxy S II. This seven month old phone is still a great choice. It has a large 4.3-inch Super AMOLED HD (480 x 800) display.

This Android phone runs on 1 GB of RAM, a dual core 1.2 GHz A9 processor on a Exynos chipset, HSDPA+ 21.1 Mbps connectivity, an excellent 8 MP camera and a 2 MP secondary camera Internal storage starts at 16 GB with a 32 GB model available (but not in the Philippines), which is expandable via a MicroSD card. Right now it runs on Android 2.3.5, but an Android 4.0 update is guaranteed. Except for the screen size and resolution, and the operating system, this phone has better specifications than the Galaxy Nexus.

This is also a large phone, but it is a bit slimmer (8.5 mm) and bit narrower (66.1 mm) than the Galaxy Nexus.

Cash price: As low as Php25,950 open line with a 1 year official warranty


Free: At Globe's Plan 2499
BlackBerry Torch 9860. We only recommend this phone if you are a using BlackBerry services and are looking for something to tide you over until the next generation of BlackBerry phones. 

Like the other new BlackBerry phones it comes with O.S. version 7.0, a 1.2GHz processor and 5MP camara. The Torch 9860 actually comes with less internal memory at 4GB compared to the new 9810 Torch and 9790 Bold which had 8GB. It is not that big a deal since storage is expandable via MicroSD card.

We selected this among the new BlackBerry's because it has the largest screen with the highest resolution among the new BlackBerry's at 3.7-inches with a 480 x 800 resolution. This makes is the best choice for a variety of uses like web browsing, document viewing, navigation and the like. You do loose the QWERTY keyboard. 

If you want a BlackBerry with a QWERTY keyboard, you might as well hold on to what you have and wait a few month for the BB 10 phones. If you are not a BlackBerry user, now does not seem to be the time to make a switch to this platform.

Cash price: As low as Php24,900 open line with a 1 year official warranty

Other phones. There are a bunch of other high end phones in the market, like HTC Sensation series (basic, XE and XL), the LG Optimus 2X, 3D smartphones like HTC EVO 3D and LG 3D P920, BlackBerry's new Model 9810 Torch and 9790 Bold and Nokia's MeeGo powered N9. We did not forget this phones. The five above are the best choices in the market today. 

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