Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 2011 budget smartphone buyers guide

Because of some price adjustments, we have an updated guide here.

Two of my friends on a tight budget pick-up low cost smartphones. One got a Mini the other a Ace. Neither one is dissapointed. If you are on a budget below 15K, it is pretty amazing what you can get these days.

Samsung Galaxy Mini - Just enough. Nothing great here. The 3.14-inch 240 x 320 screen looks a bit pixelized. The 600MHz ARM 11 processor and Adreno 200 GPU it will run all but the most demanding apps. Internal storage is a scant 160MB, but you do get a 2GB MicroSD card with the package and with running Froyo (Android 2.2) as the OS, the small internal storage is not the big deal it used to be. The camera is a 3.15MP fixed focus unit.  But priced at Php8,790 you really cannot complain.

There are several 2.8-inch offerings in the market at a slightly lower price, but we we really recommend going for the larger 3.14-inch screen. The additional 0.34-inches makes a big difference in when typing, and you do a lot of that with a smartphone.

LG Optimus One P500 - Still a very solid choice. 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. 

The higher resolution 320 x 480 is worth the additional Php2,210 premium over the Samsung Galaxy Mini.
The Samsung S5830 Galaxy Ace - Just right. The Galaxy Ace combines a 3.5 inch 320 x 480 screen with a low Php13,000 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, and Froyo (Android 2.2)  You get all the usual wireless connections. At the back, you get a good 5MP auto focus camera with a LED flash.  It runs Android 2.2, Froyo, so the small internal storage is not as big a deal as it used to be.

This phone you buy for the screen it has a 3.5 inch screen. That is the same size as many of the higher end phones in the market like the iPhone 4 and Nokia N8. The 320 x 480 resolution is just high enough so you do not notice any pixelation. It is the most expensive budget phone in our comparison but it is worth it.

HTC Wildfire - This old soldier is still a good choice. At the the price of Php12,000 the HTC Wildfire offers a lot.  The spoiler in the package is 3.2 inch 240 x 320 screen. Both the Samsung Galaxy Ace and LG Optimus One having crisper displays.
Inside it still 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 in the browser, and this is the only budget phone which has any kind of browser flash support.  It has a good amount of RAM at  384 MB. Internal storage is also the highest at 512MB. 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. 

This one will be replaced by the newer Wildfire S soon. Still it is a solid choice.

Need a physical QWERTY keyboard?

Samsung Galaxy 551 - So so at the price, but it does have a slide out keyboard. One good option at less than 15K is the Samsung Galaxy 551. Priced at Php12,000 it is equipped with a 3.2 inch 400 x 240 resolution screen.  It runs Android 2.2 and is powered by a 667MHz processor and 256MB of RAM. For the money, it is not as good a choice as a Wildfire or Optimus One, but if you want the slide out physical keyboard, than it is not all that bad a choice either.

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