Best Budget Smartphones Below RM1500
Not everyone can afford an iPhone. In fact, it’s also getting more and more difficult to afford any top range smartphone. Samsung and Huawei have both introduced products above the RM4,000 mark; and even the once budget friendly OnePlus has decided that it’s not so friendly.
As times get tougher, more and more people are turning to something more affordable. We’ve compiled a list of devices that might not measure up to the latest top of the line iPhone or Samsung, but they are good enough that you won’t notice.
As the headline implies, all of these can be found for less than RM1,500.
Vivo V11i (RRP RM1299)
Cinema goers will likely be familiar with this Chinese brand by now. The advertisements were once a permanent fixture before any movie.
Vivo’s selling point has always been its emphasis on the selfie camera, and the V11i is no different. There is a massive 25MP front camera to cater to those who love taking pictures of themselves. Backing this up is a series of beautification filters to get the most Instagrammable version of yourself possible.
The 128GB storage ensures that you will always have space for all those pictures; and the 6.3-inch display gives you plenty of screen for consuming content.
If there’s anything to say about the Vivo V11i it’s that the MediaTek Helio P70 processor might be on the slow side, so some apps might be a little sluggish. Not something that would be noticeable for people who are usually only on social media and YouTube.
Oppo F11 Pro (RRP RM1399)
Where Vivo focuses on selfies, Oppo has gone in the literal opposite direction. The Oppo F11 Pro sports a 48MP + 5MP rear dual camera setup; promising to take excellent portrait shots. The idea is that this is the camera that you will use to capture moments with your friends, even if the lighting conditions are poor.
As far as raw power goes, the F11 Pro uses the same MediaTek Helio P70 processor as the one on the Vivo V11i. It has more system memory, so there is likely to be some better performance in this respect. Just don’t expect too much from it.
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) (RRP RM1,299)
One thing that Samsung is good at doing is allowing its best technology to gradually trickle down to lower budget phones. In this case, it comes in the mid-range Galaxy A series.
While the Galaxy A7 (2018) lacks the curved display and fancy tricks of the Galaxy S series, it ships with Samsung’s usual quality finish. The finished package looks like a device that is far more expensive than it really is; especially with the triple camera system mounted on the back.
What’s more, Samsung also includes many of its camera improvements in the A series. This gives users an experience that is similar to its flagship smartphones. You won’t get the best image quality here, but you might get some that is very close. This is a budget device after all.
On the inside, the Galaxy A7 (2018) packs Samsung’s own homemade Exynos processor. Having the processor and experience being built by the same company goes a lot way to improve the user experience, and you are likely to feel the difference.
Pocophone F1 (RRP RM1299)
To be fair, this list really should have just been this one phone. We wanted to be fair and provide comparisons, but it’s impossible to find anything that provides this amount of value for money.
While most mid-range devices are relying on camera gimmicks to sell, Xiaomi’s Pocophone F1 chooses raw hardware power. For RM1299 you get specifications similar to that of the Galaxy Note 9.
There are few corners being cut on the Pocophone F1, with small things like Optical Image Stabilisation left off the dual cameras or having only 6GB RAM when all the flagships have 8GB.
Frankly, these are tiny differences when you can afford to buy three Pocophone F1’s for the price of the iPhone X.
Why you see lower prices online
The prices shown in this list are the recommended retail price (RRP) set by the manufacturer. Stores are always free to sell at lower prices if they think they can afford the small profit margin; and many do so.
That is why you see phones being sold much lower than their RRP, especially through online retailers like DirectD, Lazada, and Shopee.
An alternative reason for lower prices is that the devices come from parallel importers. These are smartphones not bought directly from the local distributor, but from a region with lower retail prices. It’s also how you can occasionally see gadgets that are not officially sold in the country suddenly being offered for sale.
These two factors mean that you will almost always be able to find a phone for much lower than the official price. There are exceptions, like with premium smartphones that can’t be found locally (these are usually found with a substantial markup).
You should probably also bear in mind that parallel imports may not come with manufacturer warranties. You will have to deal with your seller if anything goes wrong with the device. In this case, you may only have the option of getting a replacement instead of being able to get your phone repaired and returned to you (risking losing all your data).
There are plenty of choices for a good mid-range phone these days. Technology has progressed to the point where you don’t need to spend several months’ worth of salary just to afford a good smartphone. In fact, most consumers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference; all they want is something that works.
And that’s the thing here. All the phones on this list work just fine. You won’t end up complaining about the build quality or input lag or sluggish camera app. That’s something that professional reviewers are trained to spot. While it drives them crazy, you will be just fine.
In the end, there is a phone to fit every taste and budget. You just need to shop around a bit to find something you like.