Features

Best Budget Smartphones below $300 (August 2017 Edition)

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Welcome to GadgetMatch’s list of the best smartphones priced below $300! Each month, we update our selection with the budget-friendly phones we believe are most deserving of your hard-earned savings.

Even though the spotlight has been on high-end smartphones this entire year, there have been a few surprisingly good entry-level handsets coming out lately, as well. So good, in fact, that we had to reassess our entire list.

Here they are in no particular order:

Huawei GR3 2017 / Honor 8 Lite ($180)

As much as we enjoyed having Huawei’s GR5 2017 (also known as the Honor 6X) on this list, we couldn’t help but replace it with its more affordable sibling, the GR3 2017 (confusingly called the Honor 8 Lite in some regions). You can never go wrong with a midrange chipset and premium-looking body in a sub-US$ 200 handset.

REVIEW: Huawei GR3 2017

OPPO A57 ($240)

Now that OPPO’s F series belongs in the midrange category of our lists (the recently launched F3 is valued above $300), it’s up to the A57 to be the gateway into the Chinese company’s portfolio. Armed with an efficient Snapdragon 435 processor, selfie-centric front camera, and speedy fingerprint scanner, the A57 is OPPO’s best budget bet.

REVIEW: OPPO A57

ASUS ZenFone 3 Max 5.5 ($200)

ASUS has been releasing ZenFone 3 variants like there’s no tomorrow, but the one offering the most value for the price is the 5.5-inch ZenFone 3 Max. It’s the larger version of the original ZenFone 3 Max, and borrows the faster camera of the ZenFone 3 Laser.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone 3 Max 5.5

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X ($200)

We finally had to take out Xiaomi’s Redmi 4 Prime on this list to make way for the Redmi Note 4X. It’s bigger and more fun to play with; plus, it has all the same features we loved from its smaller sibling, including the large battery, efficient processor, and solid build quality.

REVIEW: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X

Vivo Y53 ($120)

When you talk about great value, you must include Vivo’s Y53. Despite having no fingerprint scanner, its processor and build quality are among the things you used to find on phones twice the price of this handset — truly a serious consideration when you can’t spend more than $140.

REVIEW: Vivo Y53

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Hands-On

realme 9i Hands-On

Solid as usual
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The realme 9i is the “little brother” in the realme 9 series. And while it doesn’t pack the same punch as its pro siblings – the realme 9 Pro and realme 9 pro+ – there’s enough here for anyone who just needs a reliable daily smartphone.

Here’s a quick look at the specs before we dive in deeper: 

Performance

  • 6.6-inch IPS LCD display with 90Hz refresh rate 
  • Qualcomm SM6225 Snapdragon 680 4G processor
  • 6GB RAM with Dynamic RAM expansion feature up to 5GB 
  • 128GB Internal Storage 
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 33W Dart Charge tech

Cameras

  • 50MP main camera
  • 2MP macro lens
  • 2MP depth lens
  • 16MP selfie shooter

Here are some samples for your appreciation.

Neat, simple, and elegant

The realme 9i is pretty understated in the looks department. The variant we got comes in blue and depending on how the light hits, you’ll see some lines to accentuate its back.

As for button and port placements, at the bottom you’ll find the usuas: speaker grille, USB-C  port, and 3.5mm jack. 

On the right side is the power button/fingerprint scanner. 

And on the left hand side are the two, tiny volume buttons. 

Overall, the realme 9i  looks neat. Simple yet elegant. The camera stands out, obviously. But you can say that for most phones these days. It’s light for its size and appearance. It’s already easy to hold as is, but it’s even easier if you’re the phone-case-and-pop-up socket type of person.

General usage

Switching from one app to the other, or going back to the home screen for that matter is seamless and fast. There’s no trouble opening or loading apps so far. 

The apps load from where I last left it, provided I haven’t closed all apps, cleared RAM, or optimized phone usage.

Media consumption and gaming

We enjoyed more than our fair share of watching sports highlights  on the realme 9i. It pays to have a great-performing phone to not miss any action. We didn’t have any problems watching on YouTube at the highest resolution settings and at 60 fps. 

Same is true for other types of content. The viewing experience was likewise seamless.

The speaker is really loud and complements the video. You don’t have to put it on max volume although it’s still of the best quality when put to max. It doesn’t break.

Playing Mobile Legends with friends and relatives on this phone is perfect even if it’s “only” a mid-level phone. The game’s graphics settings were set on default when opening from the phone. I tinkered it to HD mode with a high refresh rate and “Ultra” graphics, and it didn’t have problems throughout the game like lagging when I played.

Battery life

On full standby in power saving mode without having to connect it to Wi-Fi or turn on mobile data, the phone consumes just about 5 to 10 percent of its battery power in one whole day.

When charging, it takes less than an hour to charge from 30 percent to full with its 33W fast charging.

Solid as usual

realme 9i

 

The “i” variants in realme’s numbered series phones have consistently been steady performers and the realme 9i is no different. It’s not gonna wow you with raw specs, but the overall package and performance makes it worthwhile.

The realme 9i retails for PhP 11,990. Buy it here.

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Reviews

vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review

vivo’s best smartphone just got even better!

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The vivo X70 Pro+ was launched just several months ago. However, we’re already having a follow-up!

Unlike the X50, X60, and X70 series, the X80 series only consists of two models this time around.

Namely the X80 and X80 Pro — with the latter being vivo’s latest flagship smartphone.

But what makes it different from its predecessor? And what makes the successor a lot more exciting?

Watch our vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review now to find out more!

 

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Unboxing

Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro Unboxing and First Impressions

Premium, smart timepiece

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Watch GT 3 Pro

Huawei has been giving us the best choices for stylish timepieces to help us reach our health and fitness goals. And they’re taking the stage again with their new flagship smartwatch — the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro. 

Now let’s take a closer look at this device and check what Huawei has in store for us this time. 

Unboxing

The GT 3 Pro comes in this sleek black box with the name of the device in gold. Through the box, we also get to know that it is powered by HarmonyOS. 

Watch GT 3 Pro

Lifting the cover, you’re immediately greeted by the GT 3 Pro Titanium Edition looking classy beside a gold Huawei logo. 

Watch GT 3 Pro

Pulling the tab on the right, you’ll see a smaller enclosure. Opening it up, you’ll see some paperwork, a USB-C cable and a wireless charging cradle. 

 

Watch GT 3 Pro

Now here’s the GT 3 Pro taken out of the box. Looks premium, doesn’t it? 

Watch GT 3 Pro

By examining the watch strap, you can easily tell that it’s made of genuine high-quality leather. 

Watch GT 3 Pro

The Huawei branding is not seen on the strap. It’s instead engraved on the buckle. 

Watch GT 3 Pro

Also unlike the previous GT 2 Pro that has the usual double crown design, the GT 3 Pro has a watch crown and a button. 

Watch GT 3 Pro

The rotating crown serves as its power button and scroll and zoom wheel. Rotating it feels smooth without much resistance. But it does have haptic feedback, mimicking a mechanical feel. 

Powering it up, you’re notified to get the Huawei Health app and pair it with your phone. 

 

Once paired, you can tinker with the settings and apply customizations based on your preference and liking. 

First impressions 

What I immediately liked with the GT 3 Pro is how classy it looks. And despite it being a big smartwatch compared to what I usually use, it feels light on my wrist. 

I also can’t help but admire how clean and clear it looks with its 1.43-inch AMOLED display and sapphire glass lens. 

Watch GT 3 Pro

 

Its body, on the other hand, is made of titanium and it has a ceramic back case to complete the premium package. 

Using it for a few days, it looks like this timepiece will definitely level up my expectations for smartwatches. But I have yet to fully explore and experience everything about the GT 3 Pro that I’ll share on my hands-on review so don’t forget to also check that out. 

Pricing and availability 

The Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro retails for PhP 16,999 and is available in Titanium and Ceramic Edition. 

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