Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July 2013: Top Five Mid-Level Smartphones

With a budget of Php10,000 to Php20,000 for a new smartphone, what are the most interesting offerings? To place the choices in perspective, it would be best to take a look at the five best entry level devices.

The available entry level devices have really leveled up this month, with the three powerful Android quad core phones offered in 4.5, 5 and 5.7-inch sizes.


The prices posted are those covered by an official manufacturer's warranty.

1. Starmobile Knight - A 4.7-inch quad core Android

Starmobile's latest offering, the Starmobile Knight, should be hitting the retail shelves in the next few days. Its specifications are nearly identical to the Cherry Mobile Omega HD 2.0, but it does cost a fair bit more, being priced Php2,291 higher. It also has the drawback of a non-user replaceable battery and the 18MP camera is gimmicky. 

Is the Knight worth the higher price? The answer to that, is it depends. 

Starmobile Knight dimensions: 138 x 66.7 x 7.5 mm
Cherry Mobile HD 2.0 dimensions: 143.5 x 70.8 x 8.8 mm

Equipped with with a smaller 4.7-inch HD display, as compared to the 5-inch HD display on the Cherry Mobile Omega HD 2.0, it is a lot trimmer. The Starmobile Knight is also thinner at 7.5 mm. That is not only thinner than Cherry Mobile Omega HD 2.0, it is also thinner than the current top of the line phones like the Apple iPhone 5, HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S 4, and Sony Xperia Z. 

Personally, I would be willing to pay the higher price for the trimmer package. Bang for the buck, the Cherry Mobile Omega HD 2.0 is still the phone to beat. If I were buying a new smartphone this month, this is the one I would get.

Quick specs:
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • 4.7-inch IPS HD display (720 x 1280) protected by Gorilla Glass
  • Dual SIM 
  • 4 GB internal storage, expandable via a microSD card slot
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1.2 GHz quad core MediaTek MT6589 processor
  • PowerVR SGX544MP graphics
  • 18 MP BSI primary camera, autofocus with flash
  • 8 MP BSI  front camera
  • HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 2000 mAh battery (not user replaceable)

2. ZTE V987 Grand X Quad (Php11,500) - 5-inch quad core Android

The ZTE V987 Grand X Quad has specifications which are nearly identical to the lower cost Cherry Mobile Omega HD 2.0 (Php8,999). But ZTE 5-inch offering bring enough to the table to justify its price. It has double the internal storage at 8 GB as compared to the Cherry Mobile Omega HD 2.0, which gives you three times more available user storage. The battery of the ZTE V987 Grand X Quad has 400 mAh more juice than the 2100 mAh unit on the Cherry Mobile Omega HD 2.0.

Quick specifications:
  • Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • 5-inch HD (720 x 1280) display
  • 8 GB internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card slot
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1.2 GHz quad core MediaTek MT6589 processor
  • PowerVR SGX544 graphics
  • 8 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • 1.3 MP front camera
  • HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 2500 mAh battery
Now the ZTE V987 Grand X Quad, will cost you Php2,501 more than a Cherry Mobile Omega HD 2.0.  It does offer more in terms of internal storage and battery life. Some people are still leery of buying a Philippine brand. If you are one of those, ZTE is the world's fifth largest smartphone manufacturer.


3. Sony Xperia L (Php13,490) - A good camera makes this a decent choice

The Sony Xperia L has modest specifications, with  a 4.3-inch FWVGA (480 x 854) display and a dual core processor. But is a lot better than it looks at first glance.  The dual core processor is a Qualcomm Krait, which comes close to the performance of a quad core processor. The 8 MP camera is very good, better even than the 8MP camera on its higher priced sibling, the Sony Xperia SP.

Quick specifications:
  • Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • 4.3-inch FWVGA (480 x 854) display
  • 8 GB internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card slot
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1 GHz dual core Qualcomm Krait processor
  • Adreno 305 graphics
  • 8 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • 0.3 MP front camera
  • HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 1750 mAh battery

4. Huawei Ascend Mate - 6.1 inch quad core monster Droid (Php16,990)

Huawei's entry for the phablets wars, the Ascend Mate, is now available, and it is one impressive monster of a phone. The price is a surprisingly low at Php16,990.

Quick specs:
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • 6.1-inch PIS+ HD display (720 x 1280)
  • 8 GB internal storage, expandable via a microSD card slot
  • 1 GB RAM 2 GB RAM
  • 1.5 GHz quad core Huawei K3V2 processor
  • 8 MP primary camera, autofocus with flash
  • 2 MP front camera
  • HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 4050 mAh battery
Update: The Mate released in the Philippine only has 1 GB of RAM. 

The in-house designed Huawei K3V2 processor is as fast as the Exynos quad on the Samsung Galaxy S III. The 4050 mAh battery also promises amazing battery life.

Priced lower than the Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8, which is priced at Php18,900, the Huawei Ascend Mate looks like it will take the mid-priced phablet crown in the Philippines. The Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 specifications are just too far behind the Huawei Ascend Mate. The Huawei Ascend Mate can actually slug it out, toe-to-toe, with the more expensive Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 and Note II. 


5. Sony Xperia SP LTE (Php18,200) - A really nice new mid-level offering from Sony

The Sony Xperia SP is an excellent mid-level Android. It has an HD display, powerful processor, LTE connectivity and long battery life. The biggest weakness in the package is the camera which produces pictures which are a bit lower in quality than the 5 MP shooter on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus or its lower cost sibling, the Sony Xperia L.

Quick specifications:
  • Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean).
  • 4.6-inch HD (720 x 1280) display
  • 8 GB internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card slot
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1.7 GHz dual core Qualcomm Krait processor
  • Adreno 320 graphics
  • 8 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • VGA front camera
  • LTE/HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 2370 mAh battery

Wildcard: HTC 8X (Php13,990) - Picking up where the Nokia Lumia 520 left off


Not everyone wants an Android, and a large price drop on HTC's 8X gives you a good reason to get something else. The mid-level non-Android choice is pretty good. If you want a Windows Phone 8 device, and want something more than the Nokia Lumia 520 and the Huawei Ascend W1, the HTC 8X  fits the bill nicely with a sharp 4.3-inch (720 x 1280) display, more RAM and a more powerful processor.

Quick specifications:
  • Windows Phone 8
  • 4.3-inch HD (720 x 1280) display
  • 16 GB internal storage, non-expandable
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1.5 GHz dual core Qualcomm Krait Snapdragon processor
  • Adreno 225 graphics
  • 8 MP autofocus primary camera with a  Carl Zeiss lens and a LED Flash
  • 1.3 MP front camera
  • HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 1800 mAh battery
The battery is not user replaceable. If you want a user replaceable battery and can live with a lower resolution display, take a look at the Nokia Lumia 720.


Check out my other top five lists:



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