Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 2011 Smarthpone buyers guide - Part I

A bit late in the month, but we wanted to wait to complete the dual core cast. We normally start with the most expensive, this time we will go the reverse order and think that will be a more helpful guide.

10K or less. These days Php10,000 gets you a lot. You can a brand new BlackBerry with a two year warranty, a Nokia Symbian smartphone with free turn by turn navigation. What else. Well there are Samsung Bada phones.There are also a whole gaggle of Google Android available.

There are no good reasons to get a Bada phone.  If you plan to avail of BlackBerry services, stop reading this guide and get the BlackBerry which fits your budget. Each step price increase of higher end models brings useful features worth paying for. If you are looking for the best free navigation option for the Philippines, Nokia with their OVI maps provides that. Other than that, we recommend that you get the LG Optimus One P500.

LG Optimus One: Best option below 10K

Why? If you are in the market for a modern touchscreen phone you want one with a touchscreen friend OS.  This means you should be looking at an Apple iOS, Windows Phone 7 or Google Android device. At 10K or less, the only available options at this price, are Androids. 

Since touchscreen is the order of the day, get the highest resolution device available and in general the larger the screen the better. At below 10K, most Android run 240 x 320 screens resolutions, which looked pixelized even on small screens. There are two options that run the higher 320 x 480 (same as an iPhone 3GS) resolution. You have Sony Ericsson X8 and the LG Optimus One P500.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 is now an obsolescent product forever to be stuck at Android 2.1, so I suggest you pass on this one. LG Optimus One P500, is running Android 2.2, with a promised upgrade to Android 2.3 on the way. The Optimus One also has a larger screen (3.2-inches), more RAM and a larger battery than the Xperia X8. So the Optimus One beats the Xperia X8 in both software and hardware.

What about all the other sub-10K Androids. We do have the LG Optimus Me, the Samsung Galaxy 5, Mini and Fit, and a few months ago, we would were recommending phones with these specifications. A few months is a long time in the mobile phone industry, and we really wont be recommending anything with a screen resolution lower than 320 x 480 anymore. 

The LG Optimus can be had for as low as Php9,800 with an official warranty. Sure, you can save 1-2K on a lower end unit with a lower resolution screen. The cost will be app compatibility. A 320 x 480 resolution will give you better app compatibility, and over time more and more newer apps wont run or run efficiently on 240 x 320 screens. Android phones with 240 x 320 screen resolutions are on the way out. Now is not the time to buy one of this anymore. 

10-15K range. Adding Php5,000 opens up a whole bunch of new interesting choices. 

HTC Wildfire S: Premium look and feel, but a bit short on specs

The HTC Wildfire S is available for as low as Php13,000 with an official HTC warranty. The question is, is it worth 3K more than the LG Optimus One. Both phones have 3.2-inch, 480 x 320 screens, 600MHz processors with Adreno 200 graphics, and 512MB of RAM. The HTC does have a more premium looking case, a Gorilla Glass protected display and a LED flash for the camera. So the HTC is a step up in hardware. 

From a software standpoint the Wildfire S comes out of the box with Android 2.3, has the HTC Sense interface (which in our opinion is the best manufacturer customize Android interface) and has flash support in the browser (but not full browser flash support). Really, the only good reason to get this phone at this price range is if you want the Sense UI. If not, the LG Optimus One P500 offers better value for money and Samsung has something that is a better value for money option at this price bracket.

Samsung Galaxy Ace: The best choice under 15K

The Samsung Galaxy Ace, priced at Php13,500 with an official Samsung warranty is a notch up in price over the LG Optimus One P500 and offers hardware well worth the price difference. Instead of a 3.2-inch screen, you get a larger 3.5-inch screen protected by Gorilla Glass. The processor in the Galaxy Ace is a 800MHz unit, faster than the 600MHz processor in the Optimus One. The Galaxy Ace also comes with the best still camera at this price range.

In the end, you buy this for the 3.5-inch screen. That is the same size as the screen on an iPhone, and for many may be the best compromise between a large screen and a small form factor. It does not sound like a big difference, but when you compare a 3.5-inch screen with a 3.2-inch screen phone side by side, the difference is larger than it sounds since the size is measured diagonally.

Part two of this guide can be found at this link.

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