Monday, August 5, 2013

Top Five Smartphones for August 2013


If you have deep pockets, what smartphones should you be looking at? These are what I think to be the best five options at Php20,000 or higher. Keeping the list down to five is tough, and I had to drop the HTC One from the list. But the HTC One at Php30,990 is starting to look expensive. The Sony and Nokia models on the list got updated to newer and, in my opinion, better models.

All prices posted are for units covered by a manufacturer's warranty.


1. LG Optimus G (Php20,990) - Nexus 4 with LTE

The LG Optimus G is the phone on which the Google Nexus 4 was based. Basically, it is a Nexus 4 with double the storage and LTE, priced ironically a few thousand less.  

Quick specifications:
  • Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • 4.7-inch HD (768 x 1280) display
  • 32 GB internal storage, not expandable
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 1.5 GHz quad core Qualcomm Krait processor
  • Adreno 320 graphics
  • 13 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • 1.3 MP front camera
  • LTE/HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 2100 mAh battery
The LG Optimus G put together the best of 2012 technology. It won't stand up to the best of the 2013 offerings, but if you can get it at a bit over 20K, it is a very good value for money offering.



2. Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 (Php22,850) - Finally, an LTE enabled phablet

For the longest time, I have not had a phablet option on this list, with the only LTE phablets available being those found on the grey market. Now we have one, and it does make a grand entrance with a massive 6.3-inch display. The hardware is modest, but good enough for the asking price.

Quick specifications:
  • Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • 6.3inch HD (720 x 1280) display
  • 16 GB internal storage, expandable via a Micro SD card
  • 1.5 GB RAM
  • 1.7 GHz dual core Qualcomm Krait processor
  • Adreno 305 graphics
  • 8 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • 1.9 MP front camera
  • LTE/HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 3200 mAh battery


3. Sony Xperia ZR C5503 LTE (Php23,400) - Sometimes taking things down a notch makes them better

The Sony Xperia ZR is a scaled down version of the top of the line Sony Z/ZL products. Instead of a 5-inch Full HD display, you have a 4.55-inch HD display. Internal storage has also been reduced and the front camera is only a VGA unit. Other than that, the other specifications are unchanged, and its IP58 certified water and dust resistance makes it the best choice for the active user.

The overall package is nice and handy and, still packing a 2300 mAh battery, it does have excellent battery life (will be posting details on that soon). Best part is the battery is user replaceable.

Quick specifications:
  • Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • 4.55-inch HD (720 x 1280) display
  • 8 GB internal storage, not expandable
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 1.5 GHz quad core Qualcomm Krait processor
  • Adreno 320 graphics
  • 13 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • VGA front camera
  • LTE/HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 2300 mAh battery
If I were in the market right now. This is the one I would buy.



4.  Nokia Lumia 925 (Php23,500 SRP) - The best Windows Phone 8 device got better

The Nokia Lumia 920 was the best Windows Phone 8 device in the market, and the release of the Nokia Lumia 925 makes it even better. Basically, the Lumia 925 is a Lumia 920 which is 20% thinner and 30% lighter, but there is a catch. Nokia reduced the storage from 32 GB to 16 GB. So many might want to hunt down the older Nokia Lumia 920. Me, I really do prefer the newer lighter version. The Nokia Lumia 920 weighed in at all of 185 grams.

The 8 MP primary camera with Carl Zeiss Optics and optical image stabilization (OIS) is still there. OIS is only found on Nokia's high end 9 and 10 series phones and the HTC One. OIS uses a gyroscope to detect the motion of the phone and the whole optical assembly moves in the opposite direction to cancel out the movement. That happens 500 times a second. This really does wonders for HD video capture and helps in low light photography. Looks like Nokia also tweaked the software, resulting in the Lumia 925 producing better stills than the Lumia 920. 

The Php23,500 price posted here is the suggested retail price. The other prices posted here are street prices, so I expect you should be able to find the Lumia 925 at lower than 23K.

Quick specifications:
  • Windows Phone 8
  • 4.5-inch HD (768 x 1280) display
  • 16 GB internal storage, not expandable
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1.5 GHz dual core Qualcomm Krait processor
  • Adreno 225 graphics
  • 13 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • 1.3 MP front camera
  • LTE/HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 2000 mAh battery
The price of the Nokia Lumia 920 has dropped a lot since its release, and offers good value for the asking price.



5. Samsung Galaxy S4 i9505 (Php27,850) - The best selling smartphone ever, just got cheaper

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the fastest smartphone in the Philippine market. The only thing faster is the Korea only Galaxy S4 LTE Advanced. It has gobs of RAM, LTE connectivity, and an excellent camera. You can expand the internal storage and the battery is user replaceable.

There are very few bad things you can really say about this phone. The TouchWiz Enhanced has been given several features which is not necessarily  a good thing. It has gotten to the point that it feels gimmicky. Another frequent complaint about the Galaxy S4, is that it is made out of plastic, and at this price, people want something more premium.

Quick specifications:
  • Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • 5-inch Full HD (1080 x 1920) Super AMOLED display
  • 16 GB internal storage, expandable via a MicroSD card
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 1.9 GHz quad core Qualcomm S600 processor
  • Adreno 320 graphics
  • 13 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • 1.3 MP front camera
  • LTE/HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 2600 mAh battery

Wildcard: Apple iPhone 5 (PPhp31,300) - The best iPhone ever


There are plenty of reasons for wanting an iPhone. It gives you access to the Apple ecosystem of apps and services for one. In terms of ease of use, it is probably the simplest of the current mobile operating systems.

The Apple iPhone 5 is the best iPhone ever built. The main new feature of the iPhone 5 is the larger 4-inch (640 x 1136) display. You also get substantial hardware upgrades, with 1 GB of RAM,  new dual core A6 processor and LTE making this twice as fast as the iPhone 4S. The A6 processor is built on 32 nm technology, which gives the iPhone 5 not only more power, but also better battery life than previous iPhones. The 8 MP camera is excellent, with only the camera on the Samsung Galaxy S4, and the dedicated camera phones being better.

The Apple iPhone 5 comes in three models, with 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB of storage. Storage is not expandable.

Quick specifications:
  • iOS 6.1
  • 4-inch (640 x 1132) display
  • 16/32/64 GB internal storage, not expandable
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Dual core A6 processor
  • PowerVR SGX543MP3 graphics
  • 4 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • 2.1 MP front camera
  • LTE/HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 1440 mAh battery
The iPhone 5 is getting a bit long in the tooth, and cannot match the performance of the latest Androids. The next model looks to still be five months away. So if you want an iPhone now, this is not a bad phone to live with for the next two years.

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