Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Best smartphones for May 2012

Willing to spend over Php20,000 on a smartphone? We will try to give you a round-up of the best available choices in the Philippines.

Android phones -

1. HTC One X 

  • Cash Price: Php27,990 with a one year HTC Warranty.
  • Postpaid options: None at present. Listed as coming soon to Smart Communications.

Pros. The HTC One X is the best smartphone in the Philippines. With a excellent 4.7-inch 720p HD display (720 x 1280), a quad core processor, 32 GB or internal storage, HSDPA 21.1+ Mbps connectivity and a excellent 8 MP camera it meets all expectation of what you would expect from a top of the line smartphone for 2012. The One X is an Google Android powered phone running latest Android operating system, Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). You can also expect it to get updated to the next version of Android in 2013. We wrote a detailed comparison between the One X and the best Androids a few weeks ago which you can find at this link.

Cons. The 32 GB (about 26 GB user available) internal storage is a lot, but if it is not enough for you, it is not expandable. The battery is not user replaceable so you will need to have it replaced at the HTC Service center when it comes time to replace. Also, some users may find 

The Samsung Galaxy S III will be announced in two days, and it looks like it will probably one-up the One X and take the smartphone crown.

Defining features. Even if the Galaxy S III proves to be a better phone than the HTC One X, the One X has a few things going for it. 

The One X is a Nvidia Tegra 3 device which comes with a GeForce ULP graphics processor. The Galaxy S III will use the Exynos chipset, most likely with Mali graphics. The Sony Xperia S uses a Qualcomm chipset and Adreno graphics.  We have no word on whether the Tegra 3 powered LG smartphone will be available in the Philippines. 

There is a growing list of games which are Tegra 3 optimized, and the graphics of these games on Tegra 3 devices has enhancements not found on the Apple iOS and standard Android version of these games. So, the One X is likely to be the best handheld Android gaming device for the year.

HTC also has it own Sense User Interface. If you like the HTC Sense, than you wont be happy with TouchWiz on the Samsung Galaxy S III even if that proves to be a faster device. Finally, the One X comes with 25 GB of online storage from Dropbox valid for two years.

2. Samsung Galaxy Nexus 

  • Cash Price: Php30,000 prepaid kit from Smart Communications.
  • Postpaid options: Free at Data Plan 2000 from 
    Smart Communications.

Pros. The latest Nexus phone is always a good choice. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is Google's latest Android reference phone.  It has a large display, like the HTC One X. The Galaxy Nexus uses Super AMOLED technology on its 4.65-inch 720p HD display. It also supports HSDPA  21.1+ Mbps like the One X. Also the battery is user replaceable.

After that, it is a bit downhill for the Galaxy Nexus. It has a decent dual core processor, which actually beats the quad core One X in browser benchmarks by a little bit. But in terms of graphics performance, it has half the graphics power of the One X. The Galaxy Nexus also has 16 GB of internal storage, which in is half of what you get on the One X. The 5 MP shooter on the Galaxy Nexus is a very good camera, but in most cases not as good as the 8 MP unit on the One X.

Cons. 16 GB internal storage is not expandable. Some buyers may find it too big.

Defining features. The Galaxy Nexus runs vanilla Android, free of any manufacturer customizations and bloat. Smart does put their SmartNet app on the phone, but you can uninstall this. For buyers who want Vanilla Android this is the best choice. Also, it will get software updates faster than the other phones, sometimes by several months.

At 30K, it looks awfully expensive for what you get, especially since it is now being sold in the US for US$399, so a price of closer to 20K would be more reasonable for this device. It is a good choice though on a prepaid plan, being free at Smart's Data Plan 2000.

3. Samsung Galaxy Note 

  • Cash Price: Php29,000 with official Samsung Warranty.
  • Postpaid options: Free at Data Plan 2000 from 
    Smart Communications. Php1,999 a month from Globe Telecom (SuperSurf Plan 1799 + Php200 a month for 2 years)

Pros. The Samsung Galaxy Note is a like it or hate it proposition.  It has a massive 5.3-inch Super 720p HD AMOLED display. While it comes with a dual core processor, and not a quad core unit, it is not lacking in speed. It comes with 16 GB of internal storage, which can be expanded via a MicroSD card. It has an 8 MP camera which is at least equal to the one on the HTC One X. It also supports HSDPA  21.1+ Mbps like the One X. Also the battery is user replaceable.

In the end it all goes back to the 5.3-inch display. You want it or you don't. 

Cons. May be too big for some users.

Defining features. Giant display is match with a stylus. If you are into drawing or if you are serious about photo editing on a mobile, the stylus helps a lot.

The 29K price, and plans it is available at make it a reasonable choice whichever way you want to acquire it.

If you are looking at something cheaper for cash, the Samsung Galaxy S II which can now be had for just Php23,200 and the HTC Sensation which is being sold for just Php20,500. The Galaxy S II was the best smartphone of 2011, but with Android having jump over to the 720p pond for displays, the Sony Xperia S, at Php24,500 is looking more compelling. If you up your budget to Php24,500, might as well add 3.5K more and get the HTC One X. The Xperia S is really just a 2011 phone with a 720p display.

The Sensation looks fine at Php20,500, but the cheaper mid-level Samsung Galaxy S Advance is just as good.

In the end, I really recommend spending a lot on the HTC One X, getting the Galaxy Nexus postpaid or getting the Galaxy Note either for cash on a postpaid plan.

iOS phones

Apple iPhone 4S

  • Cash Price: Starts at Php33,200 from Smart.
  • Postpaid options: Free at Plan 2499 from Globe and Smart. We recommend Super Surf Plan 1799 + Php4,800 cash from Globe. We recommend Data Plan 2000 + Php2,500 from Smart.

If you want an Apple phone, this is the best choice, and really the only good choice. If you want a smaller device, this is also the best mid-sized smartphone in the world. Android has gone big, leaving the 3+ inch space to its mid-level phones.

Pros. Excellent 8 MP camera, iCloud service and still has the largest App Store. Very pocket friendly device because of its 3.5-inch display.

Cons. Even at release, it was a bit outdated. The high resolution retina display, with its 640 x 960 resolution was great for 2010. With no improvement for 2011, it started to look dated (See display comparison here). It also cannot play 720p video in its native size. HDSPA connectivity is also at 14.4 Mbps, which was not cutting edge in 2011.

In the end, it comes down to the display and how much you want an iPhone. The 3.5-inch display is either the perfect size for you or not. Me, I find it too small. Big enough for calls and text, but a but small for web browsing. Play games, and your thumbs cover most of the display. iPhones only come in one size, so either it is what you want or not. But not everyone wants a monster phone.

The battery is not user replaceable and local Apple stores do not carry iPhone batteries. When you need to replace it, your best bet is to add an external battery pack making this phone feel and weigh like a brick.

Finally, a new iPhone is coming out in a few months, and I do expect it to be a substantial upgrade over the current model. 

Defining features. It is the Apple phone.

If you are buying one for cash, it really is terribly expensive for what you get. A good choice postpaid from either carrier.

Windows Phones -

Nokia Lumia 800
  • Cash Price: Php21,500 with a Nokia Warranty.
  • Postpaid options: Free SuperSurf Plan 1799 from Globe.

Pros. It is a Windows Phone 7.5. The AMOLED clear black display is excellent.

Cons. It is a Windows Phone which had limited hardware support. The phone has a 3.7-inch WVGA display (480 x 800) which was cutting edge in 2010. It has a single core 1.4 GHz processor, making it the only phone on this list that does not shoot 1080p video (limited to 720p video). The 16 GB storage is not user expandable. HSDPA connectivity is limited to 14.4 Mbps.  The 8 MP camera with its Carl Zeiss lens sounds better than it actually performs. No front camera.

Basically, this phone would have been cutting edge for late 2010. Problem is, it is 2012. There is also no guaranty that this device gets Windows Phone 8 which is coming out in October or so of this year. 

Defining features. It comes with Nokia Drive. Best free turn-by-turn navigation app for a phone in the Philippines. Windows Phone operating system has the best Facebook integration on a smartphone.

If you want a high end Windows Phone, this is what I would recommend. At Php21,500 the price seems to high for the hardware, but if you consider the cost of working voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, it is actually not a bad deal. It is also a decent choice at Globe Plan 1799.

BlackBerry phones -

If you want a BlackBerry, I would recommend getting something inexpensive. Even the cheapest BlackBerry;s give you access to all BlackBerry features. The time to sign in for a two year commitment or spending more cash on a BlackBerry is when the new BlackBerry 10 devices arrive. We are not even sure if the BlackBerry 10 devices will be any good, but the current BlackBerry's are at end -of-life. If you want a high end phone now. Look elsewhere.

May 2012 mid-level smartphone buyers guide  


  1. I am planning to get the iPhone 4s via Smart Data Plan 2000. But I'm very concerned about hidden charges, like apps secretly consuming data which Smart will surely charge as value-added services. How do I make sure that my monthly bill will stay at 2000 Php? Please help.

    1. I cannot guaranty there will be no additional charges. I get occasion Php10 to Php30 charges per month related to Facebook and am not sure why. But I ignore it. It is pretty acceptable for me. My phone is online 24/7 getting email, social networking updates, news, weather and connected to GTalk.

  2. I agree with you, that the best is HTC One X. But Samsung Galaxy S 3 is very powerful too.

    1. Sorry, when this article was written the Galaxy S 3 was not yet launched. The Galaxy S 3 takes the top spot in the next guide.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...