Friday, April 1, 2011

April 2011 Smartphone buyers guide

Prices updated on April 7, 2011

The dual core phone are not here yet...,

No high end phones...

We are not recommending you buy anything over Php25,000 unless it comes with two cores. Right now, we have nothing to recommend.

Best mid-range smartphones in the market - Samsung Galaxy S i9000 and SL i9003 and the HTC Desire

1. Samsung Galaxy S i9000. With Php30,990 Samsung Galaxy i9000 now being availale at Php23,250 it knocks our favorite HTC Desire HD off our list. The Desire HD has further gone down in price, now at just Php24,000. Buth the Desire HD's 4.3-inch screen and 768MB of RAM is not enough to beat the 4-inch Super AMOLED display, superior SuperVR graphics and the 16GB of internal storage of the Galaxy S. The Galaxy S biggest weakness is that it has no flash for the camera, which is kind of perplexing for such an expensive phone, but since the Desire HD's camera is nothing to crow about, this won't save it either. 

And yes, this phone is getting Gingerbread. 

2. Samsung Galaxy SL i9003. The Samsung Galaxy SL i9003, the lower end replacement of the Samsung Galaxy S, is still an amazing phone and our second best choice. Available now an evewn lower for a price of Php18,700 this is the best value for money proposition smartphone right now, bar none. 

The Galaxy SL has a 4-inch capacitative touchscreen with 480 x 800 pixel resolution S-LCD  screen The screen is protected by the near scratch proof Gorilla Glass. Inside, the Galaxy SL i9003 is powered by a 1GHz Cortex A8 centrial processing unit and PowerVR SGX530 graphical processing unit. Basically, it is a Samsung Galaxy S with no AMOLED display and a slower GPU at a much lower price.

Despite being a new release, it unfortunately still comes installed with Froyo (Android 2.2) instead of Gingerbread. The Galaxy SL 5MP camera is decent and can take 720p video, but like the Galaxy S still has no flash. The case is still made of plastic. The missing flash and all plastic case, will not stop it from becoming the best mid level Android, and the vest value smartphone in the market right now.

3. HTC Desire. The HTC Desire is an Android powered smartphone with a 3.7-inch screen and is powered by a first generation 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and equipped with 512GB of RAM. This phone is the oldest model on our list. 

It also come equipped with a 5MP camera with a LED flash. It is regarded by many as the best smartphone for 2010The HTC Desire is running Android 2.2, Froyo. But HTC has committed to give this phone a Gingerbread update by June 2011 so the phone will be current for 2011.

At the lower price of Php19,500 price with a HTC warranty, we think it is still a viable option despite, the lower priced Samsung Galaxy SL i9003. But make no mistake about it, the Samsung Galaxy SL i9003 is the better deal. You should only consider the HTC Desire if you really need to have a flash with your camera and if you really like the HTC Sense UI. If not, get the Samsung Galaxy SL i9003.

Best budget smartphones in the market - Samsung Galaxy Ace, LG Optimus One P500 and Samsung Galaxy Mini

The budget class just got much more interesting.

1. The Samsung S5830 Galaxy Ace. The Galaxy Ace combines a 3.5 inch 320 x 480 screen with a low Php13,990 asking price. Inside is an 800MHz ARM 11 processor and Adreno 200 GPU. The ARM 11 processor means no flash support in the browser. Internal storage is a scant 158MB but you do get a 2GB MicroSD card with the package.  You get all the usual wireless connections. At the back, you get a 5MP auto focus camera with a LED flash.  It runs Android 2.2, Froyo, and not the latest Gingerbread release. But this is the budget category after all.

But lets go back again... it has a 3.5 inch screen. That is the same size as many of the higher end phones in the market. With touchscreen phones, screen size is everything. With the 3.5 inch screen, this budget phone does not scream cheap.

2. HTC Wildfire. At the new price of much lower price pf Php12,000 the HTC Wildfire makes our list.  The HTC Wildfire has a 3.2 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen display with a 240 x 320 pixels screen resolution. The lower screen resolution is the main point against it, with both the Samsung Galaxy Ace and LG Optimus One having crisper displays. The Wildfire runs also still runs on Android 2.1 (Eclair), but is upgradeable to Android 2.2. 

Inside it does have the best processor if the budget class. The Wildfire is powered by a 528 MHz Qualcomm processor, which is slower than the ones found in the Galaxy Ace and Optimus One, but this is actually a higher class processor. Clock speed is not everything. The 528 MHz Qualcomm supports flash, and this is the only budget phone which supports flash in the browser. It has a good amount of RAM at  384 MB. Internal storage is also the highest at 512MB. Another good reason choose the Wildfire is the camera. It has a decent camera, a 5 MP auto focus unit with a LED flash. The led flash plus the nicely built case and building quality makes it look and feel more like a high end phone. 

3. LG Optimus One P500. For Php11,000 you get a phone running Android 2.2 (Froyo), with a 3.2 inch capacitive touchscreen display with 320 x 480 pixel resolution, a 600MHz ARM 11 processor, 419MB of RAM and 170MB of internal storage. For the camera, it has a 3.2MP autofocus camera. Connectivity options are the expected: GPRS, EDGE,  HSDPA, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP, a micro USB port and as well as a built in GPS transceiver with A-GPS support. All-in-all not a bad package, for 11K. 

4. Samsung Galaxy Mini. Nothing great here. A 3.15-inch 240 x 320 screen, a 600MHz ARM 11 processor and Adreno 200 GPU. Internal storage is a scant 160MB but you do get a 2GB MicroSD card with the package.  You get all the usual wireless connections. At the back, you get a 3.15MP fixed focus camera.  It runs Android 2.2, Froyo...

Not a lot to get excited about, but more than enough for the Php8,990 asking price... this thing will fly out of the shelves. There are a lot of 2.8-inch offering coming out in the market at less than 8K. But with the Mini at just 1K more, we recommend going for the larger 3.15-inch screen. 

Need a physical QWERTY keyboard?

Some of us cannot make the transition to pure touchscreen, and the manufacturers are happy to meet our needs:

1. HTC Desire Z.  HTC offers a 3.7-inch Android with one killer feature, a phyical keyboard with an innovative z-hinge. While some have felt that the z-hinge may be flimsy, so far no horror stories have come up about someone breaking one. The z-hinge is innovative because instead of sliding the keyboard straight out which results in a flat keyboard, it "lifts" the phone over the keyboard allowing for raised keys. Basically, is it is the best slide out keyboard I have ever tried.

Equipped with a 3.7 inch 480 x 800 resolution screen, a 800MHz Qualcomm processor and 512GB or RAM and 1.5GB of memory with a bundled 8GB MicroSD card. The price of this one varies wildly from seller to seller. But you can find it Php22,000 with an official HTC Warranty. 

The screen is smaller than the Desire HD or Galaxy S, but since the keyboard does not clutter the screen, it does give you more effective real-estate.

2. Samsung Galaxy 551. Another physical QWERTY option is the Samsung Galaxy 551, priced at Php11,900, the Galaxy 551 is a budget priced phone as Android smartphones go. It is current though, running Android 2.2 and equipped with a 3.2 inch 400 x 240 resolution screen and powered by a 667MHz processor and 256MB of RAM.

BlackBerry users

A smartphone is only as good as the services supporting it, if you rely on BlackBerry services...

BlackBerry Curve 9300. A QWERTY messenger is still todays standard for a business phone, and BlackBerry's still make the best messaging phones. BlackBerry's top of the line QWERTY messaging phone is the Bold and the Torch. The Bold and Torch would set you back between 21,000 to Php28,000. Priced at Php12,950, the Curve is the best choice. You lose the higher resolution screen, get a lower end camera and a host of other features. But the BlackBerry Curve 9300 will allow you to avail of the BES or BIS service, or avail of the BlackBerry Messaging and Social plans offered by local service providers. Basically, that is what you get a Blackberry for. Its 90% of a Blackberry Bold, at 60% of the price.

If you want to spend more, it is probably best to just save the difference, and buy the BlackBerry PlayBook when it comes out in April. The PlayBook will make a nice companion to your Curve. 


  1. Hi bro.

    Just wondering if you think the Motorola Defy is a good buy? I'm kinda considering it over the Samsung Galaxy SL...

    What do you think?

    Thanks and cheers!

  2. If you want a phone with a more rugged body for outdoor use the Defy would be a better choice. If not, the larger screen of the Galaxy SL and 4GB of internal storage makes the SL a better option I think. The SL also has a better shot at a Gingerbread update.

  3. Thanks for the reply bro.

    Does the 200 Mhz difference between the processors of the Defy and SGSL really make a difference? I have used a Galaxy S and it's OK. Haven't used a Defy so I wouldn't know whether having a slower processor (by 200 Mhz) really makes a big difference...

    How's the user experience of the Defy?

    Thanks and cheers!

  4. The 800MHz Defy's processor will make it run slower on some tasks and not one others. I have not used a mobile phone with an 800MHz processor for any substantial period of time. The HTC Wildfire with its 528MHz processor was adequate enough. The Apple 3GS with its 600MHz processor is sluggish with iOS4. My two Droids both use 1GHz processors.


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