Friday, January 13, 2012

January 2012 mid-level smartphone buyers guide

We define mid-level smartphones to the price range of Php12,000 to Php20,000, and these days, that amount of money can get you a very decent smartphone. For that amount, you should expect a high resolution screen, a decent auto focus camera with a flash, the ability to capture 720p video and a fast processor.

@Php12900 - Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V - A mid level smartphone that you can easily buy without worrying about not having spent more. The Sony Xperia Neo V is an Android smartphone (currently version 2.3.4) with a 3.7-inch high resolution 480 x 854 screen,  a 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, a decent 5MP camera with Panorama mode, a secondary camera, HDMI out and pretty much everything you expect from a modern smartphone these days. It has enough power to do the smartphone heavy lifting work as well as play all but a few dozen of the latest games. The weakest point of this handset is the 320MB on internal storage. Though this is expandable to up to 32GB via a MicroSD card, not all apps can be moved to the MicroSD card.

The lowest price we have found on this phone with an official warranty is Php12,900.
If I were to spend more, I would like a larger screen, more internal storage or better camera.

@Php14,800 - LG Optimus Black P970 - Brighter than the sun. If you add another 1.9K to your budget, you can get the bigger screen and more internal storage. The LG Optimus Black is another Android smartphone with a 4-inch high resolution (480 x 800) super bright (700-nit) display and 2GB of internal storage. It also comes with a slim 9.2 mm case giving it a premium high end look.

Out of the box, is runs Android 2.2, but is now upgreadable to Android 2.3.4. LG has also promised to upgrade this phone to ICS. If I was in the market for a phone right now at any price range, I would give this one a very long look.

@Php16,500 - Samsung Galaxy W. If you add another 1.7K to your budget the budget, at Php16,500 you have the Samsung Galaxy W i8150, another Android powered smartphone. It has a decent 3.7-inch high resolution screen (480 x 800).

What the Samsung Galaxy W i8510 offers is a faster 1.4 GHz processor and faster 14.4 Mbps HSDPA connectivity as compared to 1 GHz and  7.2 Mbps connectivity of  Sony Ericsson Neo V and the LG Optimus Black. The weakest part of Samsung Galaxy W i8510 is internal storage, having only 512 MB, expandable up to 32 GB.

Between this and the LG Optimus Black and Sony Ericsson Neo V, the black and Neo look like better deals. 

Update: The Samsung Galaxy W is not available from Globe Telecom, free at Plan 1799.

@Php18,800 - HTC Desire S - You have to love HTC Sense. I am a big fan of the HTC Sense user interface. If you are considering this phone, well it better be because of the Sense UI.

The HTC Desire S is another Android smartphone with a 3.7-inch high resolution screen (480 x 800). This phone does have a decent amount of internal storage a 1 GB, and does have the most RAM of the bunch at 768 MB. Combine with a 1GHz processor and HSDPA 14.4 Mbps connectivity it is fast enough. It also does offer HTC Sense 3.0 with it proprietary widgets and apps and premium build quality with its aluminum unibody case. It does come bundled with a 8GB MicroSD card.

The lowest price we have found for this phone with an official warranty is  Php18,800, placing it on the expensive side. It is no doubt a good phone, the only question is, is it worth 4K more than an LG Optimus Black.

@Php20,000 - Sony Xperia Arc S - Great Camera Phone. At the top end of our budget for mid-level phones you can find the Sony Xperia Arc S. The lowest price we have found for this with an official Sony warranty is Php20,000. This cost all of Php7K more than the Sony Ericsson Nee V, and 5K more than the LG Optimus Black.

It does offer a more for the money. It comes with the largest screen in this category at 4.2-inches. It comes with 1GB of internal memory with a bundled 16 GB MicroSD card. It matches the Samsung Galaxy W with a 1.4GHz processor.  It has an a pretty good 8 MP camera (with Panoramo mode), as against the 5 MP units of the other phones in this comparison. The 8 MP camera on the Arc S (in our opinion) is not as good as the camera on the Nokia N8, Apple iPhone 4S or Galaxy S II, but it is a very decent camera.

Another plus, is this phone is pretty much guaranteed an Android Ice Cream Sandwich update.

@Windows Phone - HTC Radar - Php18,200.

If you are tired of Androids, you can get the HTC Radar at Php18,200. And it is a very good choice for the price. The HTC Radar comes with the latest Windows Phone 7.5 out of the box which is deeply integrated to Windows Skydrive and its 25GB of online storage.

Its specifications are similar to its Android competitors with a 3.8-inch (480 x 800) screen, a 1GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and HSDPA 14.4 Mbps connectivity.

It comes with 8 GB of internal storage, 6.5 GB of which is user available. It is not expandable, making it a plus and a minus. The 5 MP camera on this phone is the best in this bunch having a F2.2 aperture and a back-lit sensor giving it better low light performance. It is not an excellent camera, but it is as good as you get in this price range unless you are willing to pick-up a Nokia N8.

If you are heavy into Facebook, Windows Phone 7.5 has the best Facebook integration of any smartphone operating system, with Facebook being integrated into the contacts and SMS application.

That being said, the Windows Phone ecosystem with 50,000+ apps is much smaller than the 400,000+ app Android or the 500,000+ app iOS  ecosystems. I have about 54 apps installed on my phone... so how many apps do you really need?

If I was buying a smartphone today, at any budget, I would be tempted to get this one. I love the Windows Phone interface. You can do things faster. The phone is also priced low enough for me not to worry about joining a still maturing ecosystem.

@Postpaid - BlackBerry Curve 9300 - Php999 a month BB Max plan. None of out favourite mid-level phones are avialalble on postpiad plans except for the HTC Desire S at Smart Data Plan 2000. If we were availing of Smart Data Plan 2000 we would pick a better phone like the Samsung Galaxy Note or HTC Sensation XE.

While we think BlackBerry's are really too outdated to consider at the price points, and you will see an all new BlackBerry OS in 2012, Globe Telecom has an interesting ulimited data deal on the BlackBerry Curve 9300.

While the BlackBerry Curve 9300 will still cost you over Php16,000 in the market,  the phone is being offered free for Php999 a month on a two year contract by Globe Telecom. For Php999, you get a BB Max Plan on a two year contract plus Php400 consumable. This plan gives you unlimited access to BlackBerry Messenger, BlackBerry email, Facebook, Twitter and unlimited surfing through the BlackBerry APN and unlimited downloading and streaming through the Internet APN.

This old QWERTY phone is not too interesting hardware wise, but the if you ar on a budget, it might be better to select on of these and be connected 24/7 rather than pick a high end phone relying on WiFi hotspots for connectivity. Without a internet connection, smartphones are not very smart after all.

1 comment:

  1. Currently I still look forward to welcoming DROID Motorola RAZR, unfortunately still only available in Singapore. RAZR will become a real competitor to BlackBerry, you agree?


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