Philippines

Best Midrange Smartphones (Philippine 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 PhP 15,000 to PhP 30,000.

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 (PhP 25,000)

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 around PhP 25,000.

REVIEW: Xiaomi Mi Mix 2

OnePlus 5 (PhP 25,990)

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.

REVIEW: OnePlus 5

Huawei P10 (PhP 28,990)

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

Vivo V7+ (PhP 17,990)

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.

REVIEW: Vivo V7+

Moto Z2 Play (PhP 24,999)

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.

REVIEW: Moto Z2 Play

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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Philippines

Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro Review: Twice the power, still affordable

But is it worth the hype?

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The year is far from over and neither are phone manufacturers from releasing smartphones. Although Mi 9T Pro isn’t the newest smartphone release from Xiaomi, it’s one of the most talked about smartphones around and is still the flagship killer to, well, kill.

If you previously read our Xiaomi Mi 9T review, you’d know by now that I’m exactly an Android user. I loved the Mi 9T Pro’s smaller sibling however because of its camera prowess and seamless experience despite its cheap price tag.


Now that I have the more powerful Mi 9T Pro on hand, I took it out on adventures the past few weeks to see whether it can actually live up to its flagship killer title.

Same design, different vibe

If you compare the Mi 9T and Mi 9T Pro side-by-side, it’ll be difficult to tell them apart. The symmetry is there. I like the Carbon Black option for its stealth while the Glacier Blue option is striking, in a good way. Although I’m not a fan of flashy design and colors, I love how there are subtle gradations flowing from both sides.

The red power button is still there, giving it a touch of contrast against its blue metallic body.

Speaker grilles, microphone, USB-C port, and SIM card slot below.

The Mi 9T Pro has a Gorilla Glass 5 back. It’s not the newest generation of Corning’s technology but it’s good enough to protect the phone from accidental scratches. The Mi 9T had none, which was a drawback for a smartphone with a glass back. I loved flaunting its back that I decided not to use the included black case. It’s still good as new and has not acquired any scratches. It feels right in my hand and doesn’t slip easily.

Same screen size, different display

Even Suzy looks confused with the differences in AMOLED and Super AMOLED

Xiaomi’s Mi 9T wowed me before because of its 6.4-inch AMOLED display. It’s an excellent panel, for such a cheap phone, with great viewing angles and contrast.

The Mi 9T Pro still packs a similar 6.4-inch display, but with a Super AMOLED display technology. Watching videos even outdoors is a great experience because it’s brighter and overall a better panel.

The Super AMOLED display is drop-dead gorgeous, so is Yoohyeon

I love its fullscreen display. Not having a notch or punch-hole camera makes a difference for me especially when watching videos. Color calibration is accurate and vibrant, making visuals pop.

Watching TWICE’s Feel Special in 4K made me miss Mina more #GetWellSoonMina

There are only a handful of smartphones with 4K resolution — and it’s not the basis of having a great display. It may not be the best display on a smartphone, but the Mi 9T Pro still delivers excellent entertainment experience even with its Full HD+ display. It’s also more power efficient than the AMOLED display found on the Mi 9T.

Flagship performance at half the price

The Mi 9T was already a great smartphone with the Snapdragon 730, but Xiaomi made the Mi 9T Pro even better. This phone is  equipped with a flagship Snapdragon 855 chipset — something you can only find on more expensive smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and OnePlus 7 Pro.

The Mi 9T Pro feels snappier than the Mi 9T — something I noticed immediately. Opening apps, the animation — they all feel faster. The experience is oh-so fluid and smooth. I can now play my favorite Asphalt 9 game at the highest settings that I couldn’t do (or even install) on the Mi 9T before.

Just like the Mi 9T, it also has 6GB of memory, so switching between apps is seamless.

Having a 3.5mm audio jack feels special (pun intended)

A lot of “Pro” products don’t seem like they meet expectations of actual pro users. If you’re the type of person who prefers the traditional way of listening to music, this phone has a 3.5mm jack — something you don’t see in many smartphones these days.

While I can always connect a wireless pair of headphones, the good ol’ audio jack is still very handy in a lot of scenarios. I find it useful when playing music in parties that don’t have wireless speakers. Some people still use wired microphones for audio recording as it’s more reliable. Some monopods require wired cables for you to control shutter releases.

Battery life is outstanding

I’m not proud of it but I’m *that* power user. I fiddle around with my phone and browse my social media feed every five to ten minutes. When I’m bored, I watch videos on YouTube or at least two episodes of a series I’m following on Netflix at around 75% brightness. I also play graphics-intensive games every now and then. Despite all of this, the Mi 9T Pro’s battery lasts me my entire day.

Fast charging just got faster

The Mi 9T already has a USB-C port and an 18W fast charger right out of the box — but the Mi 9T Pro ships with a faster 27W charger with Quick Charge 4+ technology.

It takes around 35 minutes to charge the phone from 0% to 50%. It reached 100% after around an hour and 30 minutes. That’s fast for a smartphone with a 4000 mAh battery.

Modern problems require modern solutions, except for these two

The Mi 9T Pro still features an in-display fingerprint scanner and it works most of the time. Not that I’m complaining, but it will never be as fast as a traditional scanner. A side-mounted scanner is always my alternative pick over this type of reader.

I thought there will be at least a difference when it comes to Face Unlock but it still performs sluggish. I would rather use the fingerprint scanner instead of the inconvenience of swiping and waiting for the camera to pop-up. Face unlock isn’t even as secure as it just relies on camera recognition.

The pop-up camera itself performs well

Don’t get me wrong, the pop-up camera is not bad, well at least in taking selfies. It captures decent selfies even when beauty mode is completely turned off.

I like how the selfies don’t look as saturated as other selfie shooters, which gives it a nice touch in persuading your crush to give you a chance to date you.

People who have shorter arms wouldn’t have a problem as the selfie camera is wide enough to accommodate four (or more) people in the frame — just like how a lot of you accommodate people that will never be a part of your life.

Same triple camera setup, but now snappier

You get the same triple camera setup as the Mi 9T that I loved: 48MP f/1.8 wide, 8MP f/2.4 telephoto, and 13MP f/2.4 ultrawide.

There’s a small difference though: the Mi 9T Pro has laser autofocus. This might not sound like much but taking photos with the Mi 9T Pro felt snappier and photos turn out sharper. It’s an understated but very important improvement.

Unlike with the Mi 9T, I didn’t experience errors while using the Mi 9T Pro’s camera

The camera does well with food subjects

But it’s honestly even better with the telephoto lens

Night Mode works really well

But sometimes, it doesn’t do photos justice

The highlights in the neon signs were dimmed after turning on the Night Mode, which made the shots worse.

Using Night Mode on the telephoto lens is great, too

I really love how it captured the filament in these two light bulbs and produced the right amount of shadows and blur in the background.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The maxed-out 128GB/6GB configuration of the Mi 9T Pro is priced at PhP 20,490, while the 64GB/6GB configuration currently retails at PhP 18,990 — which is just a PhP 1,500 difference from Mi 9T’s 128GB/6GB.

A lot of people have been calling the Mi 9T Pro as 2019’s true flagship killer, not just because of its top of the line specs but also because of its affordable price tag.

If you want to have a powerful smartphone with a bright display, snappy cameras, and unparalleled software experience without spending that much, the Mi 9T Pro is for you. If you don’t need the faster chipset and just want an overall great device, then go for the Mi 9T.

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Deals

ROG Phone 2: Price and availability in the Philippines

Includes pricing for accessories

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The ASUS ROG Phone 2 is officially in the Philippines!

The ROG Phone 2 with 12GB RAM  and 512GB  storage began pre-orders at the price of PhP 49,995 (US$ 962) last October 3 to October 11, 2019. It will hit the market on November 2019 along with the Ultimate Edition that has 12GB RAM and 1TB storage for PhP 59,995 (US$ 1165).


The phone’s accessories are available at ROG Stores only. Pricing are as follows:

Accessories list Price
Professional Dock PhP 4,995
Lighting Armor Case PhP 2,495
ROG Kunai Gamepad PhP 6,995
TwinView Dock II PhP 14,995
Mobile Desktop Dock Revised PhP 10,995
ROG Phone Bag PhP 2,495
ASUS WiGig Display Dock
(Champion’s Super Pack Exclusive)
PhP 13,995
AeroActive Cooler II
(Out-of-box Accessory)
PhP 2,995
Aero Case
(Out-of-box Accessory)
PhP 995

 

Gaming phone refined

The ROG Phone 2 is perhaps one of the most specced out phone in the world today. It’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus with a 120Hz AMOLED Display, 12GB of RAM, 512GB storage, and 6,000mAh battery.

Other features like performance improvement and cooling that keeps the phone in optimal condition promises to deliver the best mobile gaming experience to date. There are even new and improved accessories like the Kunai gamepad that makes the phone look almost like a Nintendo Switch to take your gaming experience to an even higher level.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on October 11, 2019 to add pricing details of the accessories.

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News

Redmi Note and Note 8 Pro price in the Philippines

Another pair of great value phones

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Xiaomi Philippines is officially bringing the Redmi Note 8 and Note 8 Pro to the Philippines. These midrange phones launched last August 2019 as a follow-up to Xiaomi’s immensely popular Redmi Note series.

The Redmi Note 8 Pro features a 6.53-inch Full HD+ LCD display with Gorilla Glass 5 protection and a water-drop notch. It has a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio and the back is also built of glass, giving a premium look.


But the highlight is the quad-camera setup headlined by the 64MP main camera. It is aided by an 8MP wide angle lens, 2MP macro lens, and a 2MP depth sensor.

The phone is equipped with a MediaTek’s Helio G90T chipset along with 6GB RAM in the base variant. Xiaomi says the processor has been tuned for better gaming performance. There’s also liquid cooling technology to the device fresh while you game. A 4500mAh battery backs these internals and supports 18W fast charging via USB-C.

Meanwhile, the Redmi Note 8 is powered by a Snapdragon 665 processor and features a 48-megapixel primary camera. Though, it retains 18W fast charging. Both the phones also come with IP52 rating for splash resistance.

Pricing and availability

The Redmi Note 8 and Redmi Note 8 Pro will be available in Xiaomi stores and kiosks along with Lazada starting October 12.

The Redmi Note 8 Pro starts at PhP 11,490 (US$ 223) for the 6GB + 64GB variant. The 6GB + 128GB variant will sell for PhP 12,990 (US$ 252).

The Redmi Note 8 pricing are as follows: PhP 7,990 (US$ 155) for the 3GB + 32GB model, PhP 8,990 (US$ 174) for the 4GB + 64GB variant and PhP 9,990 (US$ 194) for the 4GB + 128GB model.

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