Thursday, February 2, 2012

February 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.

@Php12,500 - Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V. 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 and a 5MP camera with Panorama mode, a secondary camera, HDMI out. This phone has any power and features so that the typical smartphone user will likely not regret having not spent more. It does have one weak point which 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 other one, is I do not think this phone will be upgraded to Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, but I could be wrong.

The lowest price we have found on this phone with an official warranty is Php12,500.

@Php14,700 - LG Optimus Black P970. The LG Optimus Black has been on our list of best mid-level smartphones since its release. It has finally be upgraded to Android 2.3, it took almost a year, but it is finally here. And LG has promised that this phone will be upgraded to, Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. This makes this old phone feel pretty new again.

It will set you back a little more than 2K over a Neo V, but can get the bigger screen and more internal storage. The LG Optimus Black has 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.

@Php19,000 - 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. It's price has dropped 1K since our last comparison making it look better and better. Another plus, is this phone is pretty much guaranteed an Android Ice Cream Sandwich update.
At a bit more that 4K over the Optimus Black this phone does give you more. 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 has a a 1.4GHz processor.  It has an a pretty good 8 MP camera with Panoramo mode. Basically, it does cost the most among our mid-level phone recommendations.

It does offer a more for the money.

@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 60,000+ 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  Globe BBMax plan. Okay, 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. But 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. One big minus for me with the Xperia Arc S is the dismally low user memory. 320MB only for apps? That's horrible for a flagship phone.

    The Optimus Black, by comparison, has 1GB of user memory:

    I've seen the Samsung Nexus S selling for 16-17k at Waltermart and Abenson. That might warrant mentioning.

  2. The Nexus for 15-17K would be worthwhile mentioning indeed. It is not available in the retailers we use for comparison. I think I need to include Waltermart and Absenson in that list.

    The Arc S is a good choice or bad choice depending on user needs. I really don't use all that much internal storage so I do not disqualify phones with a low amount. But it is something for a buyer should note and yes, for a manufacturer flagship it is surprising. It is still a worthwhile choice because of the better than average camera.

    Our recommendations now are heavily biased in favor phones with promised ICS updates. Next month the HTC Desire S is back because its ICS update is not confirmed.

  3. Factoring in ICS, then yes, the Xperia line does compare more favorably. They're probably going to have the cheapest phones out with ICS until near the end of the year.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...