Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mid-Range Smartphone Buyer's Guide for October 2013

The mid-range category is comprised of phones priced at Php10,000 or more, but under Php20,000. My entry level smartphone buyer's guide is at this link. If you have not read that yet, I recommend you do so first, since it will put things into context.

This list includes what I think are the five best options, with an additional phone which might appeal to a certain niche market.

The prices posted are those covered by an official manufacturer's warranty.


1. MyPhone Iceberg (Php11,988) - Aiming for higher ground 

MyPhone has started launching more upscale offerings in its new Agua line. Cherry Mobile has done the same with its Cosmos series. The consensus the community I hang with is that, the higher end locally branded phones are just too expensive.

The My Phone Agua Iceberg phablet is a good example of the issue.  The specifications are rather similar to the cheaper Cherry Mobile Blaze 2.0 (Php8,990). So the question has to be asked, is it worth the 3K premium?

The point with buying a more premium locally branded devices is that it should have a more premium look and feel. The MyPhone Iceberg does this with an aluminum case. It also comes with 16 GB of internal storage, higher than the 4 GB you find on lower cost models. However, this is a plus and minus proposition. You get more built-in storage, but it does not have a MicroSD slot, so you cannot expand the internal storage. It does support USB on-the-go so you can plug it to USB flash drives, which might make up somewhat for the absence of a MicroSD card slot for some.

Still is it woth 3K more?

Luckily, the MyPhone Iceberg being available at 12-months zero interest (and 24-months with a RCBC or Allied Bank credit card) at establishments, like Automatic Centre. This makes the higher price easier to swallow.

Quick specifications:
  • Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • 5.7-inch HD (720 x 1280) display
  • Dual SIM
  • 16 GB internal storage, not expandable
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1.2 GHz quad core MediaTek MT6589 processor
  • PowerVR SGX544 graphics
  • 12 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • 5 MP front camera
  • HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 2600 mAh battery (not user replaceable)


2. Lenovo P780 (Php13,500) - A lot of steel and lithium ion

October 9 update: I may have to reconsider this recommendation. The hardware specifications sound right, but after getting some hands-on time, the UI exhibits a fair bit of lag. 

The Lenovo P780 is a bulky 5-inch Android phone measuring, 143 x 73 x 9.95 mm. Put it beside other 5-inch smartphones and the Lenovo P780 looks massive by comparison. At 176 grams, it is heavy. Not something I would want to lug around every day. But I suspect for many the additional bulk and weight will be worth it. With a beautiful aluminum case and massive 4000 mAh battery, it will win over many a buyer.

Quick specifications:
  • Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • 5-inch HD (720 x 1280) display protected by Gorilla Glass
  • 4 GB internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card slot
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1.2 GHz quad core MediaTek MT6589W processor
  • PowerVR SGX544 graphics
  • 8 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • 12 MP front camera
  • HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • USB On-the-go 
  • 4000 mAh battery

3. HTC 8X (Php13,500) - Fire sale!

Not everyone wants an Android, and a large price drop on HTC's 8X gives you a good reason to get something else. This mid-range Windows powered phone is a good non-Android choice. The HTC 8X has a sharp 4.3-inch (720 x 1280) display, a gigabyte of RAM and a powerful dual core Krait processor.

Quick specifications:
  • Windows Phone 8
  • 4.3-inch HD (720 x 1280) display
  • 16 GB internal storage, non-expandable
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1.5 GHz dual core Qualcomm Krait Snapdragon processor
  • Adreno 225 graphics
  • 8 MP autofocus primary camera with a  Carl Zeiss lens and a LED Flash
  • 1.3 MP front camera
  • HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 1800 mAh battery

4. Sony Xperia SP LTE (Php15,990) - A really good choice at the mid-range

The Sony Xperia SP is an excellent mid-level Android. It has an HD display, powerful processor, LTE connectivity and long battery life. The biggest weakness in the package though is the camera which produces pictures which are a bit lower in quality than the 5 MP shooter on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus or its lower cost sibling, the Sony Xperia L.

Quick specifications:
  • Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean).
  • 4.6-inch HD (720 x 1280) display
  • 8 GB internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card slot
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1.7 GHz dual core Qualcomm Krait processor
  • Adreno 320 graphics
  • 8 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • VGA front camera
  • LTE/HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 2370 mAh battery
If you don't need LTE, be on the lookout for a Samsung Galaxy S III on sale, which has more internal storage and a much better camera.


5. Huawei Ascend Mate - 6+ inches: The next generation of phablets (Php16,700)

Huawei's entry for the phablets wars, the Ascend Mate, is now available, and it is one impressive monster of a phone. The price is surprisingly low at Php16,990.

Quick specs:
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • 6.1-inch PIS+ HD display (720 x 1280)
  • 8 GB internal storage, expandable via a microSD card slot
  • 1 GB RAM 
  • 1.5 GHz quad core Huawei K3V2 processor
  • 8 MP primary camera, autofocus with flash
  • 2 MP front camera
  • HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 4050 mAh battery
The in-house designed Huawei K3V2 processor is as fast as the Exynos quad on the Samsung Galaxy S III. The 4050 mAh battery also promises good battery life.


Wildcard: The Lumia 625 - Plenty to love and hate

The Nokia Lumia 625 is a Windows Phone 8 device. It has a lot going for, and going against it. Aside from a few aging ZTE phones, this is the cheapest LTE smartphone in the country... if you are on Globe. This is because the Nokia Lumia 625 supports the 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz frequencies. Globe runs on 1800 MHz, while Smart runs on 2100 MHz.

The phone comes with a nice decently large 4.7-inch display. But the display is WVGA (480 x 800). Many will find 199 ppi too pixelated by today's standards.

Still for the right person, it could be an excellent choice. Nokia is still Nokia, and LTE at 12.5K is a great deal.

Quick specifications:
  • Windows Phone 8
  • 4-inch WVGA (480 x 800) display
  • 8 GB internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card slot
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 1 GHz dual core Qualcomm Krait processor
  • Adreno 305 graphics
  • 5 MP autofocus primary camera with LED flash
  • VGA front camera
  • LTE (Globe)/HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 1430 mAh battery

4 comments:

  1. Hi Robin. I'm deciding between a lumia 625 and an 8x. Would you know which retailer is selling the 8x for P13,500?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. I got the price from CMK Cellphones in Quezon City. Also try MemoXpess. At other stores it goes for a but over 15k.

      Delete
  2. Hi Robin, I am planning to replace my Samsung Galaxy Note N7000 with a mid-range Android phone? But I'm torn between the Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 and the myPhone Agua Iceberg.

    ReplyDelete

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