Saturday, October 26, 2013

May Entry Level Smartphone Buyers Guide

Updated May 6, 2012 to include the MyPhone A919i

I classify entry level smartphones, as those priced at below Php10,000. Entry level phones are worth a long look. For many consumers, a more expensive phone may not add all that much functionality. 

This month a I will setting a new minimum standards for Android offerings. They have to run Jelly Bean, Android 4.1 or 4.2, to make it on this list. Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), is still a viable operating system and still has good app compatibility, but with manufacturers rolling up Jelly Bean updates for 2012 offerings and a good number of 2013 phones with Jelly Bean on board, it is time to bid farewell to ICS on this list.

This month is rather interesting, with Windows Phone 8 devices making a strong play for the entry level. 

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


1. Huawei Ascend Y300 (Php5,490) - Low cost does not have to mean cheap

The Huawei Ascend Y300 specifications are nothing spectacular. You will find many Android phones with identical specifications, even at lower price points. But I recommend that you make this your starting point. You will find cheaper Androids, but this one justifies its Php5,490 price nicely. The Huawei Ascend Y300 offers three good reasons to look past similarly speced lower cost handsets.

Quick specifications:
  • Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • 4-inch WVGA (480 x 800) display
  • 4 GB internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card slot
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 1 GHz dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
  • Adreno 203 graphics
  • 5 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • VGA front camera
  • HSPA
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 1730 mAh battery
In a sea of 4-inch Android 4.0.4 smartphones, the Huawei Ascend Y300 stand out by coming with Android 4.1 out of the box. At this price point, I would not expect an operating system update so running a newer version of Android out of the box is well worth a premium of a few hundred pesos in my opinion.

The Huawei Ascend Y300 also comes equipped with Gorilla Glass. This, though scratch and shatter resistance glass, is what you find protecting higher end and mid-level handsets. A screen protector is optional. 

The Huawei Ascend Y300 also comes with a 1730 mAh battery. This is larger than the 1500 mAh or smaller batteries you find mated to phones with a 4-inch diaplay, this will give you 15-20% longer battery life than similarly price phones.

Basically, while many of the local smartphone brands offer nice low cost phones, the Huawei Ascend Y300 sends the message: It is time to level up.

You can read more about the Huawei Ascend Y300 at this link.


2. Cherry Mobile Flame 2.0 (Php6,999) - Power at a compromise

The Android powered Cherry Mobile Flame 2.0. Its main selling point over the the Huawei Ascend Y300 is power and screen size.  For Php1.5K more, you get roughly double the power and a larger 4.5-inch display.

It does takes a few steps back. No Gorilla or Dragontrail Glass to protect the display and a 1600 mAh battery which promises marginal battery life.

Quick specifications:
  • Android 4.1
  • 4.5-inch qHD (540 x 960) display
  • Dual sim support
  • 4 GB internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card slot
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1.2 GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor
  • Adreno 203 graphics
  • 5 MP autofocus primary camera with LED Flash
  • 0.3 MP front camera
  • HSPA
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 1600 mAh battery
Overall, the Huawei Ascend Y300 provides a more balanced device for those whose primary need is a device that can do typical smartphone chores. It is a polished version of last years low cost smartphone. The Cherry Mobile Flame 2.0, on the other hand, would appeal to those who want a more capable gaming device or the comfort of a larger screen. At this price, some compromises do have to be made. A smaller than ideal battery is something you can work around.

You can read more about the Cherry Mobile Flame 2.0 at this link.


3. Nokia Lumia 520 (Php7,450)- Nokia and Microsoft have a real winner in the Lumia 520

The Nokia Lumia 520 is a Windows Phone 8 device with a 4-inch display. If you are a gamer, the Cherry Mobile Flame 2.0 will make you happier. If you are buying a smartphone, mainly for smartphone use, the Windows Marketplace does have 130,000 apps, a sufficient amount to pretty much allow you to do anything you want. 

Quick specifications:
  • Windows Phone 8
  • 4-inch WVGA (480 x 800) display
  • 8 GB internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card slot
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 1 GHz dual core Qualcomm Krait processor
  • Adreno 305 graphics
  • 5 MP autofocus primary camera
  • No front camera
  • HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 1430 mAh battery

Is this phone worth paying Php2K more than the Android powered Huawei Ascend Y300? The main considerations other than the higher price is you, lose the LED flash and the front camera. The smaller battery is not a big issue since you do get a more power efficient Krait processor. Other than the cameras, the phones are functionally equivalent. 

So why recommend the Nokia Lumia 520? Well it is a Nokia. The Nokia badging name still does give it a more premium look. Smartphones are status symbols, and this one brings the most amount of status at the lowest price. Internally, the dual Qualcomm Kraits are much more powerful than the ones found in the Huawei Ascend Y300, so you do get your moneys worth too. As a bonus, the modern chipset also gives you a HSPA+ 3G radio. Having Microsoft Office for mobile free and Nokia HERE voice guided turn-by-turn navigation justifies also the additional cost over the Huawei Ascend Y300.


4. Huawei Ascend W1 (Php8,500) - The best entry level phone in the market



If I was in the market for a low cost phone today, this is what I would pick-up. The Huawei Ascend W1, is Huaweis first Windows Phone 8 device, and it is a good one. A excellent balance of performance and battery life.

Quick specifications:
  • Windows Phone 8
  • 4-inch WVGA (480 x 800) display
  • 4 GB internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card slot
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 1.2 GHz dual core Qualcomm Krait processor
  • Adreno 305 graphics
  • 5 MP autofocus primary camera with a LED flash
  • VGA front camera
  • HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 1950 mAh battery


Basically, it is a Nokia 520 with a front camera, LED flash and a large battery. Storage can be an issue. It has 4 GB of internal storage with 1.7 GB left for apps. While you can expand storage via a MicroSD card you cannot install apps on the SDCard. Other than that, it is a faster, more complete Nokia Lumia 520.

I have a comparison of the Nokia Lumia 520 and the Huawei Ascend W1 at this link.


5. MyPhone A919i (Php9,590) - The most powerful entry level phone in the market

MyPhones new 5-inch monster is impressive. If you want a Samsung Galaxy S 4 or a Sony Xperia Z or ZL, but are short on the budget, this phone does the best job of mimicking a top end Android at a third of the price.

Quick specs:
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • 5-inch IPS HD display (720 x 1280)
  • 4 GB internal storage, expandable via a microSD card slot
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1.2 GHz quad core Mediatek processor
  • PowerVR SGX544 graphics 
  • 8 MP primary camera, autofocus with flash
  • 2 MP front camera
  • HSPA+
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • A-GPS
  • 2100 mAh battery
While MyPhones new 5-inch offering will probably lose out on the photo quality comparisons to the Cherry Mobile HD and Starmobile Diamond, but overall this is the budget 5-incher to buy. It is no so much the quad core processor which interests me but the newer more power PowerVR SGX544 graphics chip used in the MyPhone A919i Duo. The Cherry Mobile Omega HD and the Starmobile Diamond have the older PowerVR SGX 531 graphics chip which is really pushed to its limits when playing 720p video or 3D graphics on the HD display. The PowerVR 544 graphics chip on the MyPhone Duo 919i does this with ease, MyPhone has posted benchmarks of this phone at a impressive 12430 Antutu Benchmark points. 

MyPhone A919i Duo Antutu Benchmarks: 12430
CherryMobile Omega HD Antutu Benchmarks by TechLocal: 5999
Starmobile Diamond Antutu Benchmarks by Yugatech: 5577

I think the numbers speak for themselves. While the Cherry Mobile Omega HD and Starmobile Diamond have their own merits, when buying lower costs phone, compromises have to be made. MyPhone made the right one by prioritizing power and performance.

Five choices. The mainstream buyers should select among the Huawei Ascend Y300, Nokia Lumia 520 and Huawei Ascend W1. They offer nicely balanced packages. Gamers and those wanting larger displays, well the MyPhone A919i or Cherry Mobile Flame 2,0 are your best bets. 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.