ShopBack’s Smartphone Buying Guide: Best Smartphone in 2018 For Every Budget
Nowadays, the smartphone has become so ubiquitous that it is hard to imagine a time without it. Everyone, from your grandmother to your five-year-old niece has a phone that they use a lot in their everyday lives. Furthermore, according to a study published by Ernst & Young on The Straits Times; Singaporeans spend an average of three and a half hours on their mobile phones every day. That is a whole lot of your life that you are spending on your phone and getting a bad phone can cause a lot of frustration in the long run.
To complicate things further, there is a staggering amount of options available in Singapore. If you are in the market for a new smartphone, you can choose from the likes of iPhone from Apple, Galaxy from Samsung, a Pixel from Google, and phones from Vivo, LG, HTC, Huawei, Motorola and more. While getting a new phone, you would invariably want the best phone. However, there is no such thing as there is no perfect device even if your budget is unlimited. Therefore there is no best phone but there is certainly the best phone for your needs and budget.
Thus, we have curated a list of very good phones at every price point. In this list, there are mini-reviews for phones that are budget to ultra-premium devices like the iPhone X. In addition, we will be detailing a standout feature for each phone to help you more in your purchase decision. The phones on this list are also available with a local warranty so there are fewer hoops to jump through if you have problems. The prices listed here are prices without a contract as Telco prices vary wildly.
Without further ado, here is the guide.
*Photos for this article taken from Lazada unless stated otherwise. In addition, the phones on this list are all available on Lazada unless stated otherwise.
Budget Tier ($200 – $400)
Xiaomi Mi A1 Smartphone (4GB RAM 64GB ROM)_
The first phone on this list is also the cheapest. Thankfully, gone are the days where getting cheap smartphones would mean that you get a horrible laggy experience. At SGD265.00 on Lazada, the Xiaomi Mi A1 comes in Black and Gold with 1-year local Xiaomi warranty. Released in September last year, the phone powered by the battery efficient Snapdragon 625 and 4GB ram with 64GB of storage. The phone also has a headphone jack and supports up to 128GB MicroSD card expansion. Do note that even though the phone is a dual sim smartphone, you cannot use two sim cards with an SD card.
Externally, the phone itself has a full HD 5.5 inches 1920×1080 screen housed in a sleek aluminum body that looks rather premium for the price. With this Xiaomi phone’s 3000 mah battery, you can get through a full working day. However, the selfie camera is not the best, while the rear camera is not as good in low light.
Standout Feature: ‘Created by Xiaomi, Powered by Google.’ What sets this phone apart from other budget phones is that this phone is under the Android One program. Google is offering software services directly to Xiaomi and guarantees timely software and security updates. The added benefit of this is that the phone is snappier due to the light Google skin currently on Android 8.1 Oreo. All this comes together for a phone experience that makes it arguably one of the best budget smartphones. This phone is for those who value relatively prompt software updates, security patches, and stock Android.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Smartphone (4GB RAM 64GB ROM)
The next phone is this tier is the Redmi Note 5 which goes for SGD349.00 on Lazada in Gold, Blue and Black with 1-year local Xiaomi warranty. Released in February this year, this phone gets in on account of its great specs alone. Spec-wise, the phone is slightly better than the Xiaomi Mi A1. It has a more powerful Snapdragon 636 processor, 4GB ram with 64GB of storage with up to 256GB MicroSD card expansion and a headphone jack. What differentiates this phone from the A1 is that this phone runs MIUI; Xiaomi’s MIUI 9.5.6 based on Android 8.1 Oreo. In addition, it has a larger 4000mah battery that gives about two days of moderate use.
Externally, the phone has a sharp and modern 6 inch 18:9 full HD 1080 x 2160 pixels in a similarly sleek aluminum body with dual cameras placed on the side. What is disappointing on this phone is that the phone actually has an older Micro USB port instead of the USB C port on the Xiaomi Mi A1. At this price, there is also no waterproofing.
Standout Feature: This phone’s standout feature is a combination of the phone’s great specs and its great camera. Reviews have stated that the camera is comparable to more expensive phones like the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s. This phone is for those who enjoy Xiaomi’s feature-packed MIUI skin and value camera performance.
Mid range Tier ($400 – $700)
Nokia 7 Plus Smartphone (4GB Ram 64 GB Rom)
Next on this list is the Nokia 7 Plus a step up from the Mi A1 and Redmi Note 5 Pro. Priced at SGD520 on Lazada, the phone comes in Black or White with 1 year Nokia (HMD) Singapore warranty. In terms of specs, this phone is actually quite similar to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5. What sets this phone apart is it’s more powerful Snapdragon 660 processor which lets it run demanding mobile games like your PUBG better. The extra money also gets you a better dual camera setup. The main camera has larger 1.4um pixels that improve low light performance while the secondary camera comes with 2x optical zoom. Both cameras come with Zeiss optics. Although this is subjective, the phones are arguably more attractive than the Xiaomi phones due to the Nokia design language and the colored aluminum frames. In addition, this phone has the benefit of being on Android One which means that like the Xiaomi Mi A1, you get prompt updates from Google.
Externally, the phone has a sharp 6 inch 18:9, 1080 by 2160 pixels LCD display that gets pretty bright along with a glass back coated with a special finish. However, this phone is lacking a notification light which may be a dealbreaker for some.
Standout Features: This phone’s great Nokia standard build quality, powerful midrange processor and Android One come together to make this a well-rounded phone experience. You should get this phone if you value the camera with Zeiss Optics and want a bit more power than the budget options.
Huawei Honor 10 Smartphone (4GB+128GB Rom)
The other midrange phone on this list is a Huawei smartphone from the Honor line. Released in May this year, the phone is available on the Huawei Qoo10 official store for $579 in Midnight Black and Phantom Blue. Although this phone is more expensive than the Nokia 7 Plus, you get double the storage. Spec wise, the Honor 10 is rather similar to the Nokia 7 Plus. The main differentiator is the Kirin 970 processor; which powers flagships like the Huawei P20 Pro that cost two times more. In addition, the phone runs EMUI Huawei’s skin on top of Android 8.1 Oreo but does not have MicroSD card support. The camera is comparable to the Nokia 7 Plus and it sports a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Standout Feature: What sets this phone apart is the phone’s striking Phantom Blue color option with its glass back. The back of the phone has a gradient that is infused with colors inspired by the Aurora. This is rather unique in the smartphone world and would definitely turn heads if you get it. You should get this phone if you don’t mind Huawei’s skin on top of Android and love this stunning color.
Premium Tier ($700 – $1100)
Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Smartphone (4GB Ram 64 GB Rom)
Now that we have moved up to the premium tier, you’ll be getting additional features like waterproofing, wireless charging, better screens, and cameras. Sony’s offering is actually one of the smallest smartphones on this list. With a five-inch screen, this smartphone can be easily used with one hand. Priced at SGD698 on Lazada, it’s rather affordable for the specs it has. Inside, the phone has a powerful top of the line Snapdragon 845 processor with 4GB of ram and 64GB of storage and support for microSD up to 400GB. Although this is a compact smartphone, there are largely no compromises with the hardware. This phone is also one of the first phones to support 4K HDR video recording. The camera that comes with this phone is also much improved compared to the previous XZ1
Physically, the phone does not feel as premium due to its plastic back. However, it has a great 5 inch Full HD screen with 483 pixels per inch. Sadly, there is no 3.5mm headphone jack so you’ll need to use a dongle or Bluetooth headphones. But with great front-facing stereo speakers, watching videos and listening to music will be a great experience.
Standout Feature: It’s size. The XZ compact like its name suggests is a compact phone that does not compromise on flagship specs in spite of its size. In addition, its relatively affordable price means that you get a premium experience for less. Get this phone if you think big phones are overrated and you want more in a small package.
Samsung Galaxy S9+ (6GB Ram 64GB Rom)
Priced at SGD974.00 on Laza1da, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a feature packed phone that comes with very little compromises. With a phone based on Android 8.0 Oreo and Samsung’s skin the phone was released in March 2018. The first thing you’ll notice is the phone’s 6.2 Inch Super AMOLED 1440 x 2960 display. Aside from the numbers, the screen is objectively the best on the market as Samsung makes most of the AMOLED displays on the market and reserves the best for their own phones. This includes screens on their competitors’ iPhone X. Samsung gives you the best in hardware. The S9+ is waterproof, has wireless charging, has one of the best screens on the market and a fancy dual camera setup. The main camera has a camera with variable aperture while the secondary camera has a 2X optical zoom function.
Standout Feature: Physically, the phone has a beautiful design with no notch. Samsung is one of the only companies that are still including a headphone jack, microSD card support, stereo speakers. Samsung gives you the best screen that is sharp, has great contrast,. has deep blacks and great outdoor visibility.
Pixel 2XL Smartphone (4GB Ram 64GB ROM)
The last Android phone on the list is also the most expensive. Retailing for about SGD1088 on Lazada in Black or Panda white, this Google smartphone is not cheap. Released in 2017 October, you might be thinking why we have included this relatively outdated phone on this list. The answer is in the software. The Pixel 2XL comes with the best of what Google has to offer. If updates and security patches are important to you, you should get this phone. This phone will be first in line for any updates as you can already load the Android P Developer Preview 3 on the phone. Despite sporting last year’s Snapdragon 835, the phone is blazing fast due to the optimizations made on the software side.
Standout Feature: Camera. Although most of the other manufacturers have dual cameras, Google only has one. Despite this handicap, the camera is arguably one of the best cameras you can find on a smartphone. With unlimited Google drive storage, you can store you high-quality snaps on this phone. Get this phone if you want software directly from Google and a great camera is important to you. In addition, the phone has an extended 2 years of local warranty.
iPhone X (3GB RAM 64GB Storage)
One more thing… The last phone on the list is also the most expensive. Coming in at $1375 on Lazada in Black and White; Apple’s iPhone X is pushing the boundaries on a phone’s price. The device created to celebrate the Apple iPhone’s 10 year anniversary is not perfect but does a lot of things right. First things first, the display. Although the iPhone was not the first phone to introduce the controversial notch (Essential Phone did it first), other phone makers are tripping over themselves to include the notch on their new phones.
Unfortunately, most of them don’t do it as well as the iPhone X as the phone is almost all screen with no bezel below. And what a screen it is. Apple sourced the 5.88 inches 1125 x 2436 pixels AMOLED display from Samsung and it looks just as good as the S9+. Along with the new screen, there is no longer a fingerprint scanner.
Standout Feature: The phone itself is undoubtedly gorgeous. With its stainless steel band that frames the almost bezel-less display that showcases the best of IOS; the phone will turn heads. The camera with its dual lens setup, portrait lighting mode, and animoji is amongst the best in the market. All this comes in at a premium. If you have money to burn and you are invested in the Apple ecosystem, this phone is still a great device to get. But to put things into perspective, you can get 5 Xiaomi Mi A1s for the price of the iPhone X. For those who know what they’re getting into, this phone is great as it gives you the best hardware you can get. but be prepared to pay for it. As the saying goes “You get what you pay for”. Although the iPhone X is rather expensive there is nothing like this phone on the market.
Invest in the best smartphone for you
Now that you’ve gone through this list, I hope you have a better idea of what smartphone to get. Let us know in the comments what phone you are carrying or what phone you are looking forward to.
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Featured Image credit: Photo by Daniel Frank on Unsplash