Friday, March 1, 2013

March 2013 Entry Level Smartphone Buyers Guide

It is pretty amazing these days what you get to buy for Php10,000 or less. You get a phone with a WVGA (480 x 800) display or better, with dual-SIM support, dual core processing power, 4 GB of internal storage expandable via a microSD card and the usual smartphone connectivity options like WiFi, HSPA and GPS.

The prices posted are those covered by an official manufacturers warranty.

1. Cherry Mobile Flare or Cherry Mobile Burst  (Php3,999) - For "smartphone stuff", you really don't need to go further

Cherry Mobile cannot supply enough Flares to meet the demand, which is amazing for a smartphone that has been on the market now for over four months. The solution, release another variant called the Burst. Both phones have identical specifications except that Flare has a processor clocked 200 MHz higher. Which one should you choose? Really, it is more a matter of which one is available when you visit a Cherry Mobile store. 

The Cherry Mobile Flare and Burst are Android smartphones with Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) installed. This is not the latest Android version which is 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) but it is good enough. It maintains software compatibility with Jelly Bean so you really will not be missing out on all that much. 

The Flare and Burst combine a decently large and sharp 4-inch WVGA (480 x 800) displays with a sufficiently powerful a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor (1 GHz for the Burst) on a Qualcomm MSM8255 S4 Play chipset. This is powerful enough for serious work, and even for a fair bit of 3D gaming. You also get a 5MP primary camera with a LED flash, and a VGA front camera. A 1500 mAh battery is supplied with the phones, just about large enough to get you past a day. Both phones are a well rounded packages, with nothing really missing. 

With a low Php3,999 retail price, either an amazing deal. Anything cheaper runs on old version of Android.  

2. Cherry Mobile Thunder (Php4,999) - 4.5-inch Android on the cheap.

Larger screens make for more productive devices. It means less squinting while surfing the web. The additional screen real estate means your thumbs do not obscure the screen too much while playing games. 

The Thunder brings a larger screen at a surprisingly low price. The Thunder has similar specifications to the Flare and Burst, but comes with a much larger 4.5-inch display. It also comes with a more powerful 1 GHz dual core ARM Cortex-A9 processor with PowerVR SGX531 graphics on a MediaTek chipset. In order to compensate for the higher power consumption, the Thunder comes with a larger 1800 mAh battery. 

Compared to the Flare and Burst, the Thunder comes with a few disadvantages. While the Thunder ups the screen resolution to an FWVGA display (480 x 854) it is still less sharp than the Flare or Burst. The Thunder also does not come with a flash for the camera.

The Thunder costs Php1,000 more than the Flare, which is something to consider. Still, I would happily pay the additional 1K and lose the LED flash for the larger display and additional processing power.

3. Cherry Mobile Flame (Php6,299) - A low cost qHD Android.

Like the Cherry Mobile Thunder, the Cherry Mobile Flame has a 4.5-inch display. The Flame has a higher qHD (540 x 960) resolution. This phone also comes with 1800 mAh battery. 

The other specifications are identical to the Flare. The result is that this phone is actually less powerful than the Thunder, and with the higher resolution display, 3D performance will fall behind even more. 

At Php6,299 I really cannot say that the Flame is a better choice than the Thunder, but if you want the sharper display and the LED flash, this could be a better choice for you.

4. Cherry Mobile Omega (Php6,699) - Jelly Bean on board.

The Cherry Mobile Omega gives you to good reasons to buy it. FIrst it comes with Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean). It is nice too have a low cost Jelly Bean option. Second, the Omega comes with a large 5.2-inch display. If Android 4.0.4 does not satisfy you, and 4.5-inches is still too small, than this is the one for you.

 The 5.2-inch display is a WVGA (480 x 800) display. This has a low pixel density of 171 pixels per inch. In short, it is not the sharpest display in the world. On the other hand, it is not too bad either. The Apple iPad mini only has a pixel density of 162 ppi, and that looks just fine.

The Omega comes the same 1 GHz dual core processor and PowerVRSGX531 graphics you find in the Thunder. Given that a 5.2-inch display consumes a lot of power, Cherry Mobile supplies this phone with a larger 2300 mAh unit.

5. Cloudfone Thrill 430x (Php7,777) - Endurance king

Cloudfone Thrill 430x  has a 4160 mAh battery. That alone is the deciding factor in whether you decide to select this phone or not. The large battery does make for a thick 14 mm device.

For the money, the other specifications do not disappoint. This phone comes installed with Android 4.0.4. It has a sharp a 4.3-inch qHD (540 x 960) display. This phone also comes with 50% more RAM than the other phones on this list, at 768 MB. The camera is 8 MP unit, larger than the other phones on this list. The other specifications match the Flare and the Flame.

At Php7,777 or less, you have a wide range of choices in terms of size, from 4-inches to 5.2-inches. You also have a option for really long battery life. Sometime is makes me wonder if there really is any reason to spend more.

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