Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 2012 - Smartphone Buyers Guide Part 3 (over 22.5K)

This first part of this article, covering smartphones priced up to Php15,000, can be found here, while the second part of this article can be found here. This third part is the most difficult to write, and it looks like this is competition is focused.

7. Sony LT26i Xperia S - Unofficial Nexus (Php22,800 to Php24,990)

I really was not all that impressed with the Sony Xperia S every since it came out. It is a nice enough Android smartphone. The 4.3-inch HD (720 x 1280) display has the highest pixel resolution of any smartphone in the market. It comes with a good 12 MP camera. Internal storage is a good 32 GB, which should be enough for most, even if not user expandable. The battery is a decent size 1750 mAh unit.

But inside, it is more of a great 2011 smartphone, than a 2012 flagship. The HSDPA 14.4 Mbps is radio is a step down from the HSDPA+ found in all of this years top smartphones. The 1.5 GHz dual core processor is a Qualcomm S3, the same one found in last years HTC Sensation XE, and does not compare well with the new Qualcomm S4 and quad core smartphones. So, when compared  to the HTC One X and Samsun Galaxy S III, the Sony Xperia S does not fare too well.

But in the few months since its release, the price of the Sony Xperia S has dropped steadily to the point that it is on the border of being a mid-level phone. Next, Google's top Android guy, Jean Baptiste Queru, announced that this phone would be getting updates directly from Google, giving it de facto Nexus status. So instead of comparing it against the HTC One X and Samsun Galaxy S III, we are now comparing it against the Google Galaxy Nexus. Compared to the Google Galaxy Nexus, the Sony Xperia S is a very nice alternative indeed for those who want a better camera and more storage.    

Going up another 2-3K and it is a real hornets nest of competition. You have the incumbent, the HTC One X, challenged by several new comers, the LG Optimus 4X HD, Sony Xperia ion and Sony Xperia acro S. The Samsung Galaxy Note seems to be out of stock at the retailers I check, but we may update this article in a few days if the situation changes.

8. HTC One X - Second best (Php25,500 to Php27,900)

The higher end Sony offerings are hard to recommend for as they are powered by Qualcomm S3 systems. The LG Optimus 4X HD wins the hardware battle, matching the  HTC One X specifications wise, and offering in addition a MicroSD card slot and a larger user replaceable battery. But the battery life tests of the LG Optimus 4X HD are disappointing (Source: GSM Arena) and LG's record on software updates is deplorable. Right now, in terms of software support, I rate LG at the bottom.

Who supports their devices best?  
1. Google with Nexus devices
2. Sony
3. HTC
4. Samsung (good on flagship phones, deplorable at all other categories)
5. LG 

Overall, the HTC One X gets my recommendation by a hair. It is a very good phone for the asking price with a 4.7-inch HD (720 x 1280) display, a quad core Tegra 3 based processor, 32 GB of internal storage, fast HSDPA+ 21.1 Mbps connectivity and a good 8 MP camera.

9. Samsung Galaxy S III - The best smartphone ever built (Php30,500 to Php32,990)

This phone has no weak spots. It has a beautiful 4.8-inch HD (720 x 1280) SuperAMOLED display.  The 8 MP camera excellent in terms of quality as well as features. Connectivity is via a fast HSDPA+ 21.1 Mbps radio. The Samsung built Exynos Quad is substantially faster than the Tegra 3 found in the HTC One X. It comes with a large user replaceable 2000 mAh battery, which combined with the power efficient Exynos Quad gives it better battery than life the HTC's, LG's and Sony's offerings. It is the best smartphone in the market. The most you can complain about is that it comes with only 16 GB of internal storage, but it is expandable via a Micro SD card slot. 

Drawbacks... well will cost you a lot more than anything else.

So, there we are, nine recommendations for this month. We would add the Galaxy Note to the list, after confirming availability. While the Galaxy Note 2 is on the way, we expect that to cost 35K. If you can get a Galaxy Note for Php26-28K, it is still a great choice.

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