Saturday, March 2, 2013

March 2013 Mid-Level Smartphone Buyers Guide

With a budget of over Php10,000, but not over Php20,000, we have a very interesting set of choices this month.

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

1. Nokia Lumia 620 (Php11,600) - Amazingly Good Value for Money Windows Phone 8 Device

If you are starting to wonder if you only have Android options unless you are willing to spend big bucks, the Nokia Lumia 620 will feel like a breath of fresh air. The Nokia Lumia 620 also gives you a very good reason to try Windows Phone 8. 

The Nokia Lumia 620 has a 3.8-inch WVGA (480 x 800) display. A bit small by todays standards, but quality of the ClearBlack display will not disappoint.  Inside, the Lumia 620 has a dual core 1 GHz Qualcomm Krait processor and Adreno 305 graphics. A Krait processor alone easily justifies Php11,600 asking price.

Internal storage is 8 GB, which is twice as much as you will find on lower cost phones. Storage is expandable via microSD card, with up to 64 GB cards supported.  A 5 MP primary camera and a VGA secondary camera compete the package. 

2. Lenovo P770 (Php11,790) - Gives you just enough to justify the price

The Lenovo P770 has the same dual core ARM Cortex-A9 processor and PowerVR graphics that you will find in entry level Cherry Mobile Thunder (Php4,999) and the Cherry Mobile Omega (Php6,999). Like the Omega it comes with Android 4.1 out of the box. The display is a 4.5-inch qHD (540 x 960) display, like the Cherry Mobile Flame (Php6,299).

Still, I think it offers enough to justify the asking price. The dual core ARM Cortex-A9 processor is clocked 200 MHz faster than the Thunder. The phone also come with 1 GB of RAM, which is double of what you have in the Thunder and Omega. Finally, a large 3500 mAh battery, gives it long battery life like the Cloudfone Thrill 430x.

The other specifications are in line with what you expect from a smartphone at this price, with dual SIM capability, 4 GB of internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card, a 5 MP primary camera with a LED flash camera, a VGA secondary camera and the other features you expect to find in a smartphone these days.

The Lenovo P770 is solid offering. I cannot say it is a better value for money option than cheaper phones. But overall, it differentiates itself enough from its direct competition to make it a worthwhile choice.

3. Lenovo S890 (Php12,800) -  What the Cherry Mobile Omega should have been 

The Lenovo S890 is a Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) phone with  a 5-inch  display. This will place it in direct competition with the Cherry Mobile Omega which is priced at almost half the price of the Lenovo S890. 

But if you like the Omega, but have the budget, I would really have to recommend the S890 instead. 

The sharper qHD (540 x 960) resolution is one reason to pay almost double the money. At 5-inches, the qHD display really makes a noticeable difference in the sharpness of the user interface and image quality.  The 1 GB of RAM is the other reason. This is double of what you have in the Omega. The S890 won't beat the Omega in terms of value for money, but it is worth the "premium" price.

The other specifications are the same as the Lenovo P770, except that you get a larger 8MP primary camera and a smaller 2250 mAh battery. The battery is still sufficient for a phone of this size.

4. Huawei U9510 D1 Quad (Php18,090) - Another 720p quad core phone at a mid-level price

Huawei's D1 Quad is a very impressive Android (4.0.4) phone. It has a a 
4.5″ IPS+ LCD display with a HD (720×1280) resolution. Powering the phone is 1.4 GHz quad core processor on a chipset designed in-house by 
Huawei, the K3V2. The phone comes 1 GB of RAM. Powering all this is a 2600 mAh battery. It is a fast,  performs really well in the graphics intensive tasks and has a large enough battery to take advantage of all this power.

Internal storage is 8 GB, expandable with a microSD card. The phone also comes with 8 MP primary camera and a 1.3 MP secondary camera.  The camera image quality and video capture is just average however, but that is to be expected from mid priced phone.

It is a big step up in price from our cheaper Android recommendations, but it is also a big step up in display quality and brute power.

5. Lenovo K860 (Php18,500) - Almost Galaxy S III under the skin

If the Huawei's D1 Quad is not big enough for you, the Lenovo K860 with its 5-inch HD (720 x 1280) display should satisfy you. 

Inside is a quad core 1.4 GHz processor on an Exynos 4412 Quad chipset with Mali-400MP graphics. That is the same hardware as the Samsung Galaxy S III.  The processor is backed by 1 GB of RAM and a 2250 mAh battery. Internal storage is 8 GB, expandable via a microSD card slot.

The Lenovo K860 has a 8 MP primary and a 2 MP secondary camera. The 8 MP camera is not a good as the one you find in the Galaxy S III and produces only average images and video.

6. Nokia Lumia 820 (Php18,900) - Windows Phone with LTE onboard.

Does a dual core phone Windows Phone 8 device, with a 4.3-inch WVGA (480 x 800) stand a chance against quad core HD Androids? In my book it does. 

Lumia 820 has a display with a WVGA resolution. At thus price point, this is disappointing. The display is an AMOLED display, which does make up a bit for its low resolution.

While only having a dual core processor, the dual core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Kraits will give the quad core processors a run for the money.

The phone also comes with a pretty good 8 MP camera (See the GSM Compare tool at this link). The phone also comes with a VGA secondary camera.

Most importantly, this phone has a LTE radio with support for the 800 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600 MHz frequencies. This should be compatible with local networks. LTE is enough for me to consider this phone an equal to the HD Androids.

The other specifications are what you would expect. The Lumia 820 has 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB or internal storage, with a microSD card slot with official support for SD cards of up to 64 GB. Good enough for the money. 

You can read more about the Nokia Lumia 820 at this link.

7. ZTE T81/82 (Plan 999 from Globe Telecom/LTE Plan 1500 from Smart Communications) - LTE capable Droid

Globe Telecom and Smart Communications are offering a pretty decent LTE Android (4.0.4) phone on plans. The ZTE T81/82 has the same Qualcomm processor and graphics chip as the Nokia Lumia 820 and also comes with a 4.3-inch display. The display has a  qHD (540 x 960) resolution.

The ZTE T81/82 is equipped with a 8MP primary camera and a 1.3 MP front camera. RAM is at 1 GB and 4GB of internal storage, expandable via a MicroSD card, is provided.

This phone is a steal at Globe's UnliSurf Plan 999. 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. for me lumia is the best phone to avail not only because of the style of the phone, it has windows 8 OS and also a little cheaper than other big smart phones in the market


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