Features

Best Midrange Smartphones from $300 to $600 (July 2017 Edition)

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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 $300 to $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:

ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom ($490)

The ZenFone 3 Zoom is best known for its dual-camera setup that lets you zoom in without quality loss, but less advertised is the massive battery and efficient processor it comes with. Combine both, and you get an ASUS gadget perfect for this selection.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom

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.

HANDS-ON: OnePlus 5

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.

REVIEW: Huawei P10

OPPO R11 ($440)

It took a while, but OPPO’s R series of smartphones has finally been given its much-anticipated update in the R11. It’s the first in OPPO’s growing lineup to sport two cameras at the back (the additional lens serves zooming purposes) and one of the first to come with Qualcomm’s brand-new Snapdragon 660 chipset.

REVIEW: OPPO R11

Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 ($400)

Samsung hit all the right notes with its newest Galaxy A5 variant, owning a design reminiscent of older Galaxy flagships, as well as specs fit for its price point. Best of all, it has both water and dust resistance, which no other phone on this list can boast.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

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Features

MediaTek Helio P90 arrives with next-level AI and processing performance

Coming soon to midrange phones everywhere

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As previously reported, MediaTek’s latest midrange system on a chip (SoC) is here, and it brings next-generation AI performance to the segment.

Even though the Helio P70 came out only a couple of months ago, MediaTek felt that the P90 is needed to push midrange phones to the next level. On top of better AI processing, it offers improvements across the board, from boosts in camera features and wireless connectivity to better overall performance.

Let’s begin with the most important part: artificial intelligence. It’s what makes the P90 stand out, considering that it’s made for midrange smartphones. It owns an AI engine that houses a dual-core APU (application processing unit) with an AIA (artificial intelligence accelerator), which essentially place it ahead in its class.

These translate to numerous applications in real life, such deep-learning facial detection for quicker logins, real-time beautification and scene recognition for the cameras, and faster processing for augmented and mixed reality apps. Even better: Google Lens is already supported by this SoC.

Speaking of cameras, that’s another highlight here. The Helio P90 can handle up to a supersized 48-megapixel unit or dual cameras split into 24 and 16 megapixels. 4K video recording at 30 frames per second is possible, as well as 1080p at 120 frames per second.

On the connectivity side, it has support for the Cat-12/13 4G LTE bands, and more importantly, 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 — bringing it on par with more premium chipsets.

Everything is powered by a 12nm octa-core system consisting of two Cortex-A75 processors at 2.2GHz and six Cortex-A55 processors at 2GHz. A PowerVR GM9446 GPU running at 970MHz handles all graphics duties. In addition, CorePilot tech makes sure that everything operates efficiently.

We’re still waiting for word from partner brands on which phones we can expect to pack this new SoC. With CES and MWC coming up in the next few months, we’re sure to hear more about the Helio P90 soon.

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Hands-On

Realme C1 Hands-on: Redefining entry-level devices

The new king of budget smartphones?

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No, this is not another OPPO hands-on, but we can’t blame you for thinking that it is. Realme, the offspring of OPPO, has just opened up to more Asian markets and they’re pushing their own entry-level device to penetrate the smartphone market.

This is the Realme C1, the identical twin of OPPO A3s. Side by side, it’s hard to tell them apart aside from the brand logos. Is the Realme C1 any different? Let’s find out.

It has a 6.2-inch HD+ display

It’s got a notch, too

The power/lock button is on the right side

It’s unresponsive at times

The volume buttons are on the left…

They get the job done

… along with the triple-card slot

Put in your microSD and SIM cards at the same time

The bottom is packed with the micro-USB and audio ports

As well as the loudspeaker and microphone

The phone’s back is pretty boring

Even the blue variant doesn’t stand out

There’s nothing special about it

To be honest, the Realme C1 felt plain when I first saw it in its box. It’s probably because I got spoiled by all the special patterns and gradients on other phones. The unit I mainly used is the blue one, but I’d suggest the black model more because of its understated look. The black bezels kind of ruin the blue hue for me.

Since the display just has an HD+ resolution, it’s not as sharp as other pricier phones. Good thing the panel is bright enough to be used outdoors; it also produces lively colors and has Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. The notch on top is unnecessarily wider than usual, but no one should expect a sexy phone in this segment.

What I find to be so-so is the phone’s loudspeaker. It sounds tinny and doesn’t get loud even when I’m alone in a small room.

Overall, the phone looks and feels pretty basic, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With all the attractive phones coming out, it’s nice to have a no-frills budget option. That being said, there’s nothing much to write home about the Realme C1’s design aside from that it has a shiny plastic exterior.

Limited memory is a bottleneck

The big question about budget phones is how well they perform. With a Snapdragon 450 processor at the helm, the Realme C1 is able to run the latest apps. The loading times are a bit slower than I’m used to, but there are no general performance issues.

It can’t keep apps always running in the background, though. The phone only has 2GB of memory which is already a minimal amount for Android. The 16GB internal storage gets filled up easily too, so be sure to put in a microSD card.

Of course, ColorOS 5.2 still mimics the look and feel of iOS even though it’s just based on Android Oreo. Personally, I have some issues with ColorOS’ tweaks mainly in the notification system. It takes away the good elements of Android instead of improving it, which is what others are doing.

Gaming-wise, the Realme C1 is capable of running any game I play, but not in their best graphics settings. Asphalt 9: Legends, for example, runs okay but its visual quality is toned down. PUBG Mobile and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang are definitely playable, albeit in low to medium settings.

Decent photos for a budget phone

When buying a cheap phone, one shouldn’t expect its cameras to excel. Well, the Realme C1’s shooters are not great, but they are surprisingly okay. Equipped with a 13-megapixel f/2.2 rear camera and a 2-megapixel depth sensor, this phone can take decent pictures in daylight. It also has a 5-megapixel selfie camera with an AI beautification feature.

Check out these samples:

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I can’t say that it has the best camera in its class, but the quality of the photos taken by the Realme C1 are worthy enough to be used for your social accounts. You can always enhance them using popular photo editing apps from the Play Store.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Realme C1 is not a perfect smartphone. It’s not meant to compete with the best of the bunch, but it’s made to entice people looking for a cheap phone. Also, this is basically an OPPO A3s offered at an even cheaper price.

For someone who is looking to upgrade from a feature phone or in need of a secondary device for work-related use, the Realme C1 is a great choice. It practically sits next to the Xiaomi Redmi 5A as the best budget phone around.

The Realme C1 is currently available in select markets in Asia for around US$ 110 when converted. You can get it in India for INR 8,990, PhP 5,990 in the Philippines, IDR 1,499,000 in Indonesia, THB 3,990 in Thailand, VND 2,490,000 in Vietnam, and MYR 449 in Malaysia.

Realme is new to the market and they’re pretty aggressive in offering discounts through their official online channels, so you might even get it cheaper during sale events.

SEE ALSO: Here’s why OPPO created a new brand called Realme

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Features

Honor 8X vs Xiaomi Mi A2: Head-to-head comparison

Let’s compare the two!

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We recently compared the Honor 8X to other midrange and budget-friendly phones, namely the Vivo V11the OPPO F9, and the Moto E5 Plus. This time around, we’re pitting it against a phone from Xiaomi — the Mi A2.

In this head-to-head comparison, we’re going to take a look at the specs, camera performance, and battery life of the two smartphones.

Specs

Let’s start the comparison with their specifications. As an overview, here’s a table of the phones’ specs:

Honor 8X
Xiaomi Mi A2
Display 6.5-inch IPS LCD (1080 x 2340 pixels), 19.5:9 ratio 5.99-inch IPS LCD (1080 x 2160 pixels), 18:9 ratio
Processor HiSilicon Kirin 710 Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
Graphics Mali-G51 MP4 Adreno 512
Memory 4GB/6GB 4GB/6GB
Storage 64GB/128GB 32GB/64GB/128GB
Rear cameras 20MP f/1.8 + 2MP 12MP f/1.8 + 20MP f/1.8
Front camera 16MP f/2.0 20MP f/2.2
Battery 3750mAh (Non-removable) 3000mAh (Non-removable)
Other features Rear fingerprint scanner, Face unlock Rear fingerprint scanner
OS Android 8.1 Oreo w/ EMUI 8.2 Android 9 Pie (Android One)

 

Screen-wise, the Honor 8X has a slightly bigger display at 6.5 inches and a taller 19.5:9 aspect ratio. If you place them side-by-side, the difference between a 6.5- and 5.99-inch display is excusable. Both have the same resolution, but the Mi A2 doesn’t have a notch.

Powering the Honor 8X is Huawei’s very own Kirin 710 processor, while the Mi A2 has Qualcomm’s dated yet still powerful Snapdragon 660 processor. Since the Kirin 710 is newer, it’s manufactured using the latest 12nm process which makes it more efficient. That doesn’t mean the Snapdragon 660 is a slouch though. Qualcomm’s line of chipsets has been a long-time favorite Xiaomi fans because of its reliable performance and wider developer support.

To support the processors, both phones have a large amount of memory. The Honor 8X has 4GB of memory (with a 6GB option in select regions), while the Mi A2 can be purchased with up to 6GB in local Xiaomi stores. More memory means better multitasking performance, so be sure to get the highest-possible configuration. Also, both phones come with up to 128GB of internal storage for all the apps, games, and files you can download.

When it comes to security, both have rear-mounted fingerprint readers that are accurate and responsive. On top of the fingerprint scanner, the Honor 8X has a quick face unlock feature. The Mi A2 also has face unlock using Android’s built-in Smart Lock options, but it’s not as swift as the Honor 8X’s.

This leads us to the software versions of the phones. The Honor 8X is running Android Oreo with EMUI 8.2 on top. The skinned version of Android is not everyone’s favorite, but it does come with plenty of extra features that some might find useful. The Mi A2 is under the Android One program, so it’ll be ahead in terms of security updates. The Xiaomi phone already has Android 9 Pie available for download over the air, so that’s a major plus.

Camera

Both phones have dual rear cameras, but Xiaomi has an interesting setup that supposedly gives it an edge when it comes to low-light photography. Honor, on the other hand, focused on AI capabilities to give their phone a boost.

Check out these samples:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On paper, the Honor 8X has a 20-megapixel main shooter paired with a 2-megapixel sensor for bokeh effects, while the Mi A2 has a 12- and 20-megapixel combo, both of which have an aperture of f/1.8. The front-facing camera of the Honor 8X is a 16-megapixel sensor and the Mi A2 has a 20-megapixel selfie snapper.

Battery

The Honor 8X has a larger battery than the Mi A2’s — 3750mAh versus 3000mAh. The 750mAh advantage is no joke when it comes to longer battery life. Not only that, the Honor 8X has a more power-efficient processor which will benefit the phone further.

How did the two fare in our video loop test? The Honor 8X was able to last 16 hours and 40 minutes while the Mi A2 only lasted for eight hours and 17 minutes.

While the Mi A2 lags behind the Honor 8X’s longevity, it can charge much quicker since it supports Quick Charge 3.0 through its reversible USB-C port.

There you have it! So, which of the two phones is your GadgetMatch?


This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Honor.

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