Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 2013 Compact Smartphone Buyers Guide

It is a New Year and I will be doing things a bit differently this year, instead of a classifying phones by price, the guides will switch to classifying phones by size. Given the wide range of sizes available these days, a prime buying consideration is what phone is comfortable to each user which depends in a large part to how big your hand are.

First up is the compact category, made up of phone which are 4-inches or less in screen size.

Prices indicated are for phones with a manufacturers warranty.

1. Cherry Mobile Flare (Php3,999) - Uneatable value

The Android powered the Cherry Mobile Flare is an excellent value for money proposition. The hardest part about deciding to buy a Cherry Mobile Flare is finding one. When you do find a Cherry Mobile outlet with stocks of the Flare, you will probably have to wait in line to get one.

What makes the Cherry Mobile Flare such a desired product.  The Flare combines a decently large and sharp 4-inch WVGA (480 x 800) display, with a sufficiently powerful Qualcomm MSM8255 S4 Play chipset, with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and Adreno 203 graphics. Match this with a low Php3,999 retail price and you have a winning combination. This kind of hardware is the same as what you find smartphones from other brands priced at 13K or more.

The Cherry Mobile Flares specifications are pretty much the same as what you find in other lower cost models, with dual SIM support, 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB of storage (half of which is user available), a MicroSD card slot, and a 5 MP camera and VGA front camera. The battery is a decent sized 1500 mAh unit.

For an operating system, it comes Android 4.0.4, rather than the newer Android 4.1 or 4..2, but that is not a big issue since the Android 4.x line maintains software compatibility.

This phone is good enough for doing all the typical smartphone stuff, as well as doing a fair bit of gaming too.

Going beyond the Flare in the 4-inch category, you won't find all that much which is very interesting, without spending a lot more money. You may actually want to consider a larger size and take a look at mid-sized offerings.

2. Lenovo P700i  (Php10,500) - A decent enough option but a bit expensive

If you are looking for a higher end 4-inch phone, you may want to take a look at the Lenovo P700i.  The specifications are nearly identical to the Cherry Mobile Flare, except it comes with a dual core 1 GHz processor with PowerVR SGX531 graphics, instead of Qualcomm unit on the Flare. The PowerVR SGX 531 graphics gives the Lenovo P700i a bit more graphics punch than the Flare. The Lenovo P700i also comes with a much larger 2500 mAh battery.

Given that you can get larger qHD phones for less money, and the Lenovo P700i cost as more than two Flares, the P700i is not all the great choice. Still you could do a lot worst.

3. HTC Windows Phone 8S (Php13,990) - The best value for money Windows Phone ever

If you have been looking to try a Windows Phone, the HTC Windows Phone 8S, gives you a very good reason to do so now.  The HTC Windows Phone 8S comes with the latest version of Windows for smartphones, Windows Phone 8. The HTC 8S has a 4-inch WVGA (480 x 800) display. It is paired with a 1 GHz dual core Qualcomm Krait processor built on the still cutting edge 28 nm technology. Paired with a 1700 mAh battery, the frugal processor and larger than average battery promises long battery life.

The other specifications are typical of lower end smartphones these days with 4 GB of internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card slot and a 5 MP camera. The phone does not have a secondary camera, which is a bit disappointing and the 512 MB of RAM make me worry that it might not be upgraded to the next version of Windows. Still, all in all, it is a pretty good choice for the money.

4. Samsung Galaxy S3 mini i8910 (Php14,500) - An excellent mid-priced phone with Jelly Bean on board

When this phone was announced speculation, was that it was a miniature version of the Samsung Galaxy S3. That is not the case. The Galaxy mini is an all together different phone. Rather than a mini super phone, it is a decent mid-level offering.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 mini comes with 1 GB of RAM, which is more than the 512 or 768 MB you get from its lower cost competition. The 1 GHz dual processor is paired with Mali 400 graphics, which is a much faster graphics chips than the Adreno 203 or PowerVR SGX 531. Internal storage is good 8 GB, expandable via a MicroSD card.

Samsung Galaxy S3 mini also comes with an VGA front camera and primary 5MP unit. The 5 MP camera on the Galaxy S 3 mini is a good one. It is not just the megapixels that make the camera on the Galaxy S3 mini better, but the higher quality sensor and optics. The 5MP camera on the Samsung Galaxy S3 mini compares well with other similarly priced phones like the 8 MP camera on the Sony Xperia P, which has been on this blogs recommended list since the phone came out. The Xperia P is really the Galaxy S3 mini's main competition. But with a 1500 mAh battery as opposed to the smaller 1305 mAh unit on the Xperia P, the Galaxy S3 mini gives over six hours of talk time and over 7 hours of screen on time, which is much better than the 5 hours of talk time and 4 hours of screen on time on the Xperia P, which give the Galaxy S3 mini the decisive edge.

5. Apple iPhone 5 (Starts at Php33,600)

The Apple iPhone 5 is the best iPhone every built. The main feature of the iPhone 5 is the new 4-inch (640 x 1136) display, but behind the display is 1 GB of RAM and the new dual core A6 processor, making this twice as powerful as the iPhone 4S. The A6 processor is built on 32 nm technology, which gives the iPhone 5 not only more power, but also better battery life than previous iPhones. The 8 MP camera is rivaled only by the 8MP camera on Samsung phones, and the dedicated camera centric smartphones.  It is also the only phone on this list which can capture 1080p video.

The Apple iPhone 5 comes in three models, with 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB of storage. Storage is not expandable.

This is by far the best compact smartphone in the market, but it also cost more than twice as much as its direct competition.


  1. hi
    I am searching for the review of galaxy SIII with a Core2Quad processor can you let me know from ware I can find this ?

  2. check out razr i on widgetcity = almost the same size as iphone 5


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