When premium phones are out of financial reach and entry-level handsets just don’t make your cut, something in between is the next best thing. This is our updated list of the best midrange smartphones retailing from US$ 300 to US$ 600.
Formulating this category was tricky, since you can’t set an exact price and some of these devices are, in fact, the flagship phones of their respective brands. To simplify things, we chose a price range that simply sits between our two other lists for best budget and premium smartphones.
Here they are in no particular order:
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 ($500)
It was the original Mi Mix that put borderless phones on the map, but it’s only with the Mi Mix 2 that Xiaomi can say they finally refined the concept. Now easier to hold and smarter in execution, the newest Xiaomi flagship has an improved pair of cameras and some of the best specs you can find on a phone priced at US$ 500.
OnePlus 5 ($479)
The OnePlus 3T has finally been unseated from our list, and what better way than by its successor, the OnePlus 5. The price may have gone up, but you get even more flagship-level features this time around: a much faster Snapdragon 835 processor, up to 8GB of memory, and an additional camera at the back capable of zooming in on subjects.
Huawei P10 ($580)
While it may seem odd placing Huawei’s latest and greatest smartphone on a midrange list, the P10’s price is surprisingly competitive, especially when compared to other flagships launched alongside it at Mobile World Congress 2017 (MWC). If you’re after something a little more beefed up, there’s always the more expensive P10 Plus.
Vivo V7+ ($345)
Slim bezels have finally become mainstream on midrange smartphones thanks to the Vivo V7+. Although it no longer has a dual-camera setup like its predecessor, image quality is still top-notch for the price, and the new Snapdragon 450 chipset proves its worth in terms of performance and energy efficiency.
Moto Z2 Play ($499)
We’re not including the Moto Z2 Play on our list just because it’s one of the few modular smartphones to come out this year (the Moto Z2 Force being the other one); in fact, it’s a solid handset with or without Moto Mods. We can thank the efficient Snapdragon 626 processor, super-fast fingerprint sensor, and clear Android skin for that.
Updates as of October:
- Replaced Xiaomi Mi 6 with Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
- Replaced OPPO R11 with Vivo V7+
Updates as of September:
- Replaced ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom with Xiaomi Mi 6
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OPPO A9 2020 Hands-On: Massive and Playful
For every kind of junkie
OPPO recently streamlined its smartphone lineup. From Find and Reno, OPPO introduces us to the newest A series. On paper, it seems the A-series is a combination of the F-series and former A-series. Sitting in a sweet spot between an affordable price range and incredible performance, the OPPO A9 2020 is shaping up to be a contender in a sea of smartphones fighting for the crown in the midrange category.
With Xiaomi and Huawei firmly in the lead, can OPPO put up a fight just like it did with its F series? Let’s find out in this Hands-On!
Starting with looks, the OPPO A9 2020 gives in to a premium-like design
It has a dedicated fingerprint scanner and a quad-camera setup on its rear
You can find the power button here…
…While the left side houses the volume keys and sim card slot
Its top is clear, but its bottom shows-off its speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB-C port
It has a 6.5″ IPS LCD screen with a waterdrop notch for the front camera
The OPPO A9 2020 prides itself with its new design that took inspiration from its R-series. In addition, OPPO focused on the phone’s display, reinforcing its IPS LCD screen with a Toughened Corning Gorilla Glass 3+.
Moreover, its screen has new features such as the Sunlight Screen which allows you to adjust the contrast so you can read the screen, even under strong direct light. It also has a Blue Shield which filters out blue light, relieving your eyes from fatigue and strain and protecting your eyesight.
Going big and definitely not going home
Sporting a Snapdragon 665 chipset along with an 8GB RAM, 128GB storage (which you can expand up to 256GB of external memory), the A9 2020 really joined the battle of offering power to midrange devices. OPPO decides to make everything flashy and… big.
For instance, it boasts a humongous 5000mAh battery that can last you throughout the day. Furthermore, it’s capable of reverse wireless charging (through OTG) so your friends can rely on you when their phones run out of battery.
Gamers will find delight with the A9 2020. Thanks to Game Boost 2.0, OPPO’s accelerator technology aims to resolve latency, reduce touchscreen lag, and optimizing energy consumption to avoid overheating.
OPPO decided to up their game for entertainment junkies, too! Packed with Dual Stereo Speakers and Dolby Atmos sound effects, expect a superb, immersive audio experience.
The A9 2020 runs on ColorOS 6 based on Android 9.0. Now, its interface is cleaner and smoother. Icons look cute with their subtle gradient tones.
It also comes with smart functions like Smart Assistant, Riding Mode — which lets you remain uninterrupted by notifications and incoming calls — and a Music party app which lets multiple phones connect in the same LAN through a Wi-Fi hotspot for synchronized listening.
Navigating the phone is now easier with a single hand, too. Through Gesture Navigation, you can return to the home screen, check out recent tasks, switch pages and applications by just swiping up, left, and right.
Cameras for all angles and scenarios
The OPPO A9 2020 shows off its highly versatile camera setup. It has a 48-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel portrait lens, and a 2-megapixel mono lens on its rear.
On its front is a 16-megapixel camera with AI Beautification technology which automatically identifies your skin tone, age, gender, and skin color for customized beautification, giving you a pretty yet make-up free look.
More features include artistic portrait styles, ultra night mode, and 4K video shooting. More sample photos here:
Is the OPPO A9 2020 your GadgetMatch?
If you’re into massive and chunky smartphones with a solid build, the OPPO A9 2020 might be a good match. It offers power and performance for gamers and entertainment junkies, and its smartphone has a versatile camera setup to appease your needs. While there may be Xiaomi and Huawei leading the midrange category, OPPO definitely cooked up a powerful yet affordable phone that can go toe-to-toe with its rivals.
The OPPO A9 2020 is available in two colors: Space Purple and Marine Green. Its retail price is PhP 15,990 and will be available for pre-order starting September 20 until September 27 in Lazada, and through OPPO stores, authorized dealers, and e-commerce partner sites like Shopee, Akulaku, and Argomall on September 28.
For those who want to avail through Home Credit, customers can pre-order the A9 2020 starting September 20 with flexible payment terms of six and nine months with a guaranteed zero percent interest.
Huawei’s Nova is the brand for the rising youth
And the Nova 5T the perfect companion
Google “Gen Z self expression” and you’ll come up with several results on how the youth of today values self-belief. Technology and innovation sit comfortably in the middle of a contextual generation: Generation Z. It’s the generation that knows little to nothing outside the digital age — which isn’t to say it’s a bad thing.
Technology and the digital space are the contexts our lifestyles adapt to. From the accessibility of online shopping, various news platforms to diverse online friendships, it’s not that difficult to see how this generation, our generation, has unique views and perspectives: self-belief.
Nova and self belief
Huawei’s Nova brand is stepping up to the plate to cater to this advocacy of self-belief and self-expression instead of a uniform marketed identity. Huawei is bringing cutting-edge technology worthy of flagship titles while decking out phones with stunning and exquisite designs.
This is meant to give people the chance to work, express and discover themselves through optimal technology customization and innovation. The goal is essentially to allow users to not just integrate their tech-savvy lifestyle through the Nova series, but also foster the core values of individuality and collaboration.
Want to keep track of your creative progress and teetering your interest into making a daily vlog? Huawei is way ahead of you. With the fundamental significance of self-expression, Huawei equipped the Nova 5T with five AI cameras for users to take drop-dead gorgeous shots of themselves and the view.
Cameras that empower your self expression
If you want to test out your photography skills, take photo proof, or a photo and video journal of your creative progress, the Nova 5T is your best companion. It has you covered from quality super-wide angles, bokeh, and macro shots.
The phone has one camera for super-wide angles, a main 48-megapixel camera, one for macro shots and lastly, depth assists. If you’re worried about how shots of other people and everything else around you will look more stunning than your selfies, drop the silly worrying. The front camera will make sure you step up your selfie game. It’s a 32-megapixel selfie camera with portrait lighting.
Huawei didn’t quite stop there with the Nova 5T. They cased this photography powerhouse into a 3-dimensional holographic design that just makes anyone strut with confidence.
A design that stands-out
And, you might wonder, “what’s the holographic casing got to do with catering to our philosophy?” We honestly thought it was a bit of a pain to figure it out and make something up, but you’ve got to give it to Huawei for sticking to purposeful design.
If you isolate the elements of how it looks — and forgive us if this is a bit of a silly stretch, the holographic design depicts an intention to represent collaborative diversity.
Holographic designs reflect different colors. Sounds a bit familiar? Well, it sounds like the perfect casing to represent the philosophy of individuality, self-expression, and collaboration.
Nova is a brand for the rising youth
The idea of self and embracing individuality doesn’t mean stomping over everyone else. It allows for a deeper understanding for other people. It fosters a community with depth and character and that’s exactly what this holographic designs emulate. Lastly, it also shows movement in its rigidity all while looking beautifully futuristic. This makes sure you and everyone else don’t feel apologetic about being yourselves.
Huawei’s Nova 5T enables people to play around and be creative on their journey towards self-discovery, self-identity, and inevitably, self-expression through its specifications down to it’s thought-out striking design.
This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.
2019 Kona 2.0 GLS: Mr. Extrovert
Is it a crossover? Is it a hatchback? Is it an APV? I, too, was confused when I first laid eyes on the 2019 Hyundai Kona. It was one of a kind, unique from any segment I was familiar with.
In line with the Mazda CX3 and Honda HRV, the Kona is a subcompact crossover SUV.
This vehicle is a true head-turner. I highly appreciate car companies whose designs are bold and thought of outside the box. In short, designs that make a statement.
The sleek and futuristic look of the Kona is best complemented in the flagship color Acid Yellow that gave my child-like imagination the impression of a glowing radioactive spaceship.
From the front, its fascia is exciting and modern in style with the growing trend of separated headlight design (like the Nissan Juke), streamlined daytime running lights, and low set fog lamps all go together with Hyundai’s trademark grille design.
Side profiles are matched with dynamic character lines as well as accents of matte black plastic cladding around the wheel arches and rocker panels.
Walking around to the back, you will find a design that is very consistent with the front. It’s almost identical and probably has one of the best looking rear-ends in its segment.
If we were to personify this Kona, it would undoubtedly be an extrovert. He’d be that kind of guy who’s not afraid of being a little flashy and would confidently come up to you to get your attention.
What I’m not a big fan of is the unnecessary amount of plastic cladding. Anyone who has ever owned a vehicle with this type of material will agree when I say it demands high maintenance since it tends to fade quickly.
Overall, the exterior feels exciting and fun, but stepping inside is a different story.
The interior is, well, basic. Scratchy-hard and soft plastic, fabrics, and polyurethane are the main materials used for the interior. It doesn’t give you the same exhilaration as the exterior and sadly feels like it stepped out of character.
Mounted on the dashboard, you will find a somewhat unappealing infotainment system — A non-touchscreen mono LCD unit that’s initially confusing to use while underneath is its manual climate control. Oh, and its instrument panel didn’t help spice the interior up, either, as it seemed a little too straightforward for this car’s asking price.
On the up-side, cabin space and comfort are not lacking whatsoever. With head and legroom to spare and plenty of cargo space for everyone. Cup holders, USB ports, and 12V sockets also come as standard.
When it comes to safety, Hyundai didn’t skimp on this crossover as it earned a high safety rating in the United States. With a score of 9.8, it has been given the Top Safety Pick+ award. It has Anti-Lock Braking System, traction control, dual airbags, and side curtain airbags as standard.
The ride is decently high with a ground clearance of 170mm, nearly as much as its bigger brother, the Tucson. Firing up the engine via keyless push-start button, you hear a smooth running 2.0 DOHC engine.
This is then mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that produces 147hp and 179nm of torque. It’s not the most powerful but is definitely one of the most economical, giving you up to 20km per liter (at best) on highways.
The Kona has three different driving modes you can shift through with a push of a button. You have Normal, Eco and Sport modes which just basically times gear changes differently to give you better responsiveness.
Driving this vehicle is very simple with no unneeded drama. The ride felt smooth and quiet while steering felt properly firm. You do get a bit of body roll around the corners, though.
Lacking from this vehicle is a reverse camera and proximity sensors and, from its price point, you would expect these features as standard. A feature I didn’t find necessary was the hill descent control which would be useful on its AWD variant but not on the FWD version that we have.
For now, the 2.0 GLS is the only variant available here in the Philippines. A straightforward, rather basic but economical ride that would make a perfect daily driver. Although if I were to choose between the two Kona models, I would probably go for the higher AWD 1.6 turbo Ultimate trim model which is a better option than the GLS trim.
To sum it up, it’s a bit of a bummer that it lacks a reverse camera, proximity sensors, and still runs a sub-par infotainment system in this age of touchscreens and Android Auto. What I do like, though, is how it looks. This car unquestionably wins in the looks department. And factoring in its safety achievements and fuel economy, we can easily overlook its shortcomings.
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