Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Midyear Smartphone Buyers Guide - Postpaid options

Two years ago,  service providers only had a few phone choices for postpaid subscribers. Now, the number of options to choose from is dizzying. We are writing this guide to help assist you in making a choice, but there are some things you should consider.

We do not think a smartphone is of much use without a substantial data plan, so in this guide we focus on plans with at least 1 GB of data. We have several phones on unlimited data plans, and they do not go over 1 GB in a month, typically using 600 MB to 750 MB of data despite heavy use. Please note, we do not use any of them as modems for laptops or hotspots for other devices. If you do, unlimited is the way to go. 

The devices are also phones, so we do not look at the "data only" plan options.



1. Samsung Galaxy S III - The best smartphone ever built

Free from Smart at Data Plan 2000 (30 month lock-in) or Globe at UnliSurf Plan 2499 (24 month lock-in).


Quick specifications:

Android 4.x
4.8-inch, 720 x 1280 Super AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass 2
16 GB storage expandable via Micro SD card
1 GB of RAM
Quad core 1.4 GHz processor ARM Cortex-A9
Mali-400MP graphics
Exynos chipset
8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash
1.9 MP front camera
1080p video recording
HSDPA 21.1 Mbps
2100 mAh battery
Php32,990 suggested retail price

Pros. The Samsung Galaxy S III is the best smartphone ever built. It comes with a 4.8-inch 720p display which would impress most everybody. It has a excellent 8 MP camera that allows you to take multiple shots lag free. Those who own a HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy Nexus or Samsung Galaxy Note, will not be impressed enough to want to upgrade to this phone, but pretty much everyone else will. 

Basically, Samsung got the smartphone of the year Galaxy S II, put a better display, doubled the speeds and increased the battery life by 20%. There is nothing better than this phone in the market today, and it is unlikely that there will a Galaxy S III killer till this time next year. Basically, this is as good as it gets.

Cons. The Samsung Galaxy S III is a big phone. It is a tad bit over 70 mm wide. While it is a very thing 8.6 mm, some may find it too big for their liking. 

Recommended plans. While Globe Telecom offers the Samsung Galaxy S III free at Plan 2499 it make more sense to get this phone at Plan 1799, add Php4,800 cash for the phone, and if you are a heavy user add one of Globe's unlimited call or text services. This comes out to Php2,598 a month, but it is a much better value for money proposition than  than Plan 2499.  

For Smart, the Galaxy S III is available at Data Plan 2000 but with a 30-month lock-in. If you find 30 months too long, you can pay Php2,500 for the phone and get it at the same plan with a 24 month lock-in.




2. Samsung Galaxy Nexus - Pure Android

Free from Smart at Data Plan 2000 (24 month lock-in).


Quick specifications:

Android 4.x
4.65-inch, 720 x 1280 Super AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass
16 GB storage, non-expandable via Micro SD card
1 GB of RAM
Quad core 1.2 GHz processor ARM Cortex-A9
PowerVR SGX540 graphics
TI OMAP chipset
5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash
1.3 MP front camera
1080p video recording
HSDPA 21.1 Mbps
1750 mAh battery
Php30,000 suggested retail price

Pros. Runs pure unmodified Android.  

Cons. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is outclassed by the Samsung Galaxy S III in every category. 

Recommended plans.  Smart Data Plan 2000.





3. Apple iPhone 4S - A good alternative for those wanting a more compact package

Free at Globe UnliSurf Plan 2499 or Smart at iPhone Plan 2499 Data Plan 2000 (both with 24 month lock-in).


Quick specifications:


IOS 5.x
3.5-inch, 640 x 960 LCD IPS display protected by scratch resistant glass
16/32/64 GB storage, not expandable
512 MB of RAM
Dual core 1 GHz processor ARM Cortex-A9 processor
PowerVR SGX543MP2
Apple A5 chipset
8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash
VGA front camera
1080p video recording
HSDPA 14.4 Mbps
1432 mAh battery
Php33,200 for 16 GB model suggested retail price (from Smart)

Pros. The Apple iPhone 4S comes in a nice handy package which is just 58.6 mm wide and 9.3 mm thin. It has a excellent camera and while it does not match up all that well against the latest and greatest Android phones it won't disappoint either, it weakest feature being talk time. If you want a compact package, there really is nothing in this size range that beats the iPhone 4S.

Cons. The iPhone 4S is a incremental update of a 2010 design, the iPhone 4. In four of five months, we expect to see a completely new and much better iPhone. If you want an iPhone, I would just wait, since after that I will be stuck with it for two years. 

Recommended plans. While Globe Telecom offers the Apple iPhone 4S free at Plan 2499 it make more sense to get this phone at Plan 1799, add Php4,800 cash for the phone, and if you are a heavy user add one of Globe's unlimited call or text services. This comes out to Php2,598 a month, but it is a much better value for money proposition than Plan 2499.  

For Smart, the Apple iPhone 4S is available at iPhone Plan 2499 which comes with 1 GB of data. If you want unlimited data, you can pay Php2,500 for the phone and get it at the Data Plan 2000.


4. Samsung Galaxy Note - For those looking for more of a PDA, than a phone

Free at Smart Data Plan 2000 or Globe UnliSurf Plan 2499

Quick specifications:

Android 4.x
5.3-inch, 800 x 1280 Super AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass
16 GB storage expandable via Micro SD card
1 GB of RAM
Dual core 1.4 GHz processor ARM Cortex-A9
Mali-400MP graphics
Exynos chipset
8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash
2 MP front camera
1080p video recording
HSDPA 21.1 Mbps
2500 mAh battery
Php29,990 suggested retail price

Pros. People have called this a "Phablet." A cross between a phone and a tablet. It's 5.3-inch display does make it much more functional than your typical phone, and the 5.3-inches is really a lot bigger than it sounds. This makes it an excellent e-Book reader, a great gaming platform and with the sylus a the bundled stylus, and stylus optimized software, really nice photo editing and note taking tool. If you see it, try it and like it, nothing else will satisfy you.

Cons. I think this device is ridiculously big, and awkward to use as a phone. But after 7 million units sold, a lot of buyers obviously disagree. 

Recommended plans.  Smart offers the Samsung Galaxy Note free at Data Plan 2000. Globe offers it free at a much higher plan, UnliSurf Data Plan 2499, which makes the Smart offer look better. You can get it for Php4,800 at UnliSurf Data Plan 1799 from Globe, which pretty much matches the Smart offer.


June 20, 2012 update. Existing Windows Phone devices will not be getting an update to Windows Phone 8.  Current Windows Phone handsets will be getting some Windows Phone 8 features with a Windows Phone 7.8 update. Windows Phone 8 has a new kernel. Basically, the underlying architecture is different. While Windows Phone 7.5 apps will run on Windows Phone 8, new apps might not run on Windows Phone 7.5. Because of this, it might not be advisable to get a Windows Phone device at the present time.  


5. Nokia Lumia 800 - Good choice is navigation is important to you, if not the Samsung Galaxy S III and Apple iPhone 4S is just Php4,800 away

Free from Globe at UnliSurf Plan 1799.

Quick specifications:

Windows Phone 7.5
3.7-inch, 480 x 800 AMOLED display with Nokia's Clear Black technology, protected by Gorilla Glass
16 GB storage, not expandable
512 MB of RAM
Single core 1.4 GHz processor ARM Cortex-A9
Adreno 205 grphics
Qualcomm chipset
8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash
No front camera
720p video recording
HSDPA 14.4 Mbps
1450 mAh battery
Php23,990 suggested retail price

Pros. The Nokia Lumia 800 has Nokia Drive, Nokia's voice guided turn-by-turn Navigation, which is the best bundled navigation software in the Philippines for a smartphone. Given how much navigation software costs, it is something to consider. 

Cons. While the 8 MP camera with the Carl Zeiss lens sounds impressive, it really does match up to the camera's on the Samsung Galaxy S III and Note, or the Apple iPhone 4S all that well. The hardware is date being more comparable to a later 2010 phone, than  2012 device, hence you have limitations like 720p video recording and a slower to focus camera. 

Recommend plan. UnliSurf Plan 1799


6. Nokia Lumia 710 - Not bad for the plan. 

Free from Smart at Data Plan 1500.

Quick specifications:

Windows Phone 7.5
3.7-inch, 480 x 800 LCD display with Nokia's Clear Black technology, protected by Gorilla Glass 
8 GB storage, not expandable 
512 MB of RAM
Single core 1.4 GHz processor ARM Cortex-A9
Adreno 205 grphics
Qualcomm chipset
5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash
No front camera
720p video recording
HSDPA 14.4 Mbps
1300 mAh battery
No suggested retail price. Smart exclusive.

Pros. A cheaper version of the Nokia Lumia 800 but still have Nokia Drive. 

Cons. A cheaper version of the Nokia Lumia 800 with less than half the storage, a less impressive display and a poorer quality camera.

Recommend plan. Data Plan 1500.



7. BlackBerry Curve 9320 - Okay lets talks about the service, not the phone

Quick specifications:

BlackBerry 7.0
2.4-inch, 320 x 480 LCD display (not touch capable)
512 MB ROM, storage expandable via Micro SD card
512 GB of RAM
3.15 MP autofocus camera with LED flash
2 MP front camera
VGA video recording
HSDPA 7.2 Mbps
1450 mAh battery
No suggested retail price. Still on pre-order from Globe.

Pros. Php999 a month gives you unlimited Internet access, BlackBerry email and BlackBerry messaging, and that still leaves you Php400 consumable for calls and SMS.

Cons. The hardware is pretty outdated, and BlackBerry will be releasing a whole new set of devices in a few months which will be built on a completely new operating system. 

Recommended plan.  Globe BlackBerry Plan 999.


What about the other Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S Advance and Galaxy Nexus? There are several other Android phones available at Globe Data Plan 1799, like the Samsung Galaxy S Advance. But if you want an Android at Plan 1799, I really would think you may as well add Php4,800 and get the Galaxy S III. On a postpaid plan the price difference is only Php4,800. If you were to buy the phone unlocked, the Galaxy S III costs all of 13K more.

Smart has the Samsung Galaxy Nexus free at Data Plan 2000, and for some Android purist, this is the only choice. But with the Galaxy S III available for Pyhp2,500 more, the Galaxy S III looks like the better option. The Galaxy S III is much faster and has a much longer battery life the the Galaxy Nexus.


Check out our others smartphone buyers guides:

Postpaid options
Over Php22,000
Below Php12,000

6 comments:

  1. How do I disable the Value-added services on Globe so my monthly bill stays near the plan I applied for?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, I do not understand the question.

      Delete
  2. I am a new follower of your blog. When will the next smartphone buyer's guide be released? I am after the midrange and entry level smart phones:). I love your site, its really helpful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I write one at the start of each month. Right now, I would look at the Sony Xperia's (U, Sola and P) at the 12-20K range. The Sony Xperia Go should be available soon too, at about 14-15K.

      Delete
  3. Thanks !!

    www.noncamerasmartphones.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Could you recommend the best phone in your opinion at 1k and 1.5k per month plan at globe?

    ReplyDelete

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