Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas 2012 Entry Level Smartphone Buyers Guide (10K and below)

With smartphone prices dropping an more interesting options available, I am reclassifying "entry level" category to  smartphones priced under 10K.

Prices indicated are for phones with a manufacturers warranty.

1. Cherry Mobile Flare (Php3,999) - The baseline

A good place to start is Android powered the Cherry Mobile Flares. The Flare combine a 4-inch WVGA (480 x 800) display, a Qualcomm MSM8255 chipset with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and dual SIM capability. It comes with 512 MB or RAM and 4 GB of storage, half of which is user available, a MicroSD card slot, a 5 MP camera and a decent sized 1500 mAh battery.

It runs Android 4.0.4, rather than the newer Android 4.1 or 4..2, but that is not a big issue since the Android 4.x line maintains software compatibility.

Are there any issues? Several users have reported that the accelerometer is not properly calibrated with the phone accelerometer being left of center. This could be an annoyance in some games, but I would not consider it a deal breaker. 

While several people have expressed concerns over the brand, Cherry Mobile has a wide support network and this phone cost one-third the price of phone for more established brands.

The Cherry Mobile Flares specifications serve as the new baseline of what to expect of a smartphone available. You wont be seeing an single core phones, phones with lower than WVGA resolutions and displays below 4-inches in the rest of my buyers guides.

2. Cherry Mobile Titan (Php6,499) - Monster phone on a budget

While 4-inch smartphones were considered large two years ago, these days the top smartphones sport 4.7-5.3 inch displays. Cherry Mobile brings the Titan for those who want a large display at a low cost. The Android powered Cherry Mobile Titan has a massive 5-inch WVGA (480 x 800) display.

Behind the display is a dual core ARM Cortex A9 processor on a Mediatek chipset with PowerVR SGX531 graphics. The other specifications are the same as the Cherry Mobile Flare. The phone supports two SIM's. Like the flare, this phone comes with Android 4.0.4 out of the box so it has the software department pretty well covered.

The Cherry Mobile Titan, it is amazing value for money option if you can find one. You have to spend three times as much money to get a better monster phone.

3. Cloudfone Thrill 430x (Php7,777) - The endurance king

The main issue with smartphones today is battery life. Keep the 3G turned on, have it automatically sync data, browse websites, download email and checking social networks leaves most with just about a day worth of power. The Cloudfone Thrill 430x has a solution for that. It equips it phone with a 4160 mAh battery.

This phone has the same Android 4 operating system, Qualcomm dual core processor, chipset, storage and dual SIM capability as the Cherry Mobile Flare but is almost double the price. The additional money brings more than a bigger battery though. The Cloudfone Thrill 430x has a 8 MP and 720p video capture capable variety, though image and video quality is not all the great It has 50% more RAM (768 MB).  More noticeable is that comes with a larger higher resolution 4.3-inch qHD display (540 x 960).

If I was in the market for a smartphone right now, I would pick up this one. The large battery and 4.3-inch qHD display make it a very compelling option.

Some users have reported problems with the bundled charger. 

4. ZTE Grand X V970 (Php9,990) - Another qHD smartphone

At below 10K, you will even find pretty good Android 4.0 powered  gaming devices.  The ZTE Grand X has a 4.3-inch qHD (540 x 960) powered by a dual core processor. The other features are pretty standard for the class with 4 GB of internal storage expandable storage, 512 MB of RAM, a 5 MP camera a VGA secondary camera. The battery is a decent size 1650 mAh unit.

ZTE is a big manufacturer. If you are not ready to give Cherry Mobile or Cloudfone a try, this one should comes from an established enough manufacturer to suite you.

So, at below 10K we are at 4.3-inch qHD displays, dual core processors with options for a larger display, long battery life or a fairly powerful chipset. I will be very demanding in deciding what to include in the mid-level buyers guide.

Lets move on to the mid-level.


  1. I'm a proud owner of the Cloudfone Thrill 430x and I must say the main selling point of this device are the monster battery and the sticker-like display. It also packs a snappy dual-core processor making the phone a thrill to use, hence the name. :)

    1. I have been thinking about getting one myself.


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