Best Smartphones

Best Upper-Midrange Smartphones from $400 to $600

January 2021 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 upper-midrange smartphones retailing from US$ 400 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 other lists for best budget, midrange, and premium smartphones.

Here they are in no particular order:

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro (around US$575)

This is our 2020 best value smartphone for simply because of its price-to-feature ratio. You’re getting so much flagship-level specs for about half the price of most flagships these days. The Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro is the embodiment of Xiaomi’s commitment to bringing great value for money smartphones and is easily the best recommendation in this category.

WATCH: Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro Unboxing and Review

Pixel 4a 5G (US$ 499)

This feels more like it should have been a Pixel 5 Lite than a 4a 5G. Weird naming aside, it shares plenty of characteristics with the Pixel 5. Chief among them are the Snapdragon 765G SoC and support for 5G. What this is, really, is a sort of future-proofed Pixel who’s pricing is a tier under premium.

WATCH: 2020 Google Pixel Buyer’s Guide

OnePlus Nord (EUR 499 / US$ 570)

The OnePlus Nord launched with plenty of fanfare from OnePlus fans. After a few phones that veered away from providing flagship-level phones for less, OnePlus is back in that game. What we have is almost all the necessities you can want from any really capable phone.

REVIEW: OnePlus Nord

POCO F2 Pro [6GB/128GB] (EUR 499/ US$ 560)

It feels premature adding this here but if the previous POCO phone was any indication, we probably have another worthy option at this price point. Worth noting though that the higher configuration (8GB/256GB) breached premium space — which is uncharted territory for the POCO brand.

LAUNCH: POCO F2 Pro

Samsung Galaxy A71 5G (US$ 599)

Awesome screen, awesome camera, long-lasting battery life — that’s the LSS-inducing theme of the Galaxy A71 as it was being teased. Lo and behold, Samsung wasn’t lying. The phone certainly lives up to the hype and while specs-wise there may be cheaper options out there, the package that Samsung has put together is quite enticing. And in the US, it’s the most affordable phone with support for 5G.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A71

realme X3 SuperZoom (US$ 509)

The realme X3 SuperZoom is equipped with late 2019 flagship specs — Snapdragon 855+, 64MP main camera, 120Hz screen refresh rate — while being priced at just a little over half the price of phones with comparable specs. realme is playing in that flagship killer territory and certainly deserves more attention.

REVIEW: realme X3 SuperZoom

 

Best Smartphones

Best Premium Smartphones above $600

January 2021 Edition

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If you’re looking for the very best high-end smartphones available, you’ve come to the right place! Every month, GadgetMatch updates this list with the finest devices money can buy, no matter how much they cost.

Updated monthly, this list takes every newly launched flagship costing more than US$ 600 into consideration, but doesn’t discount the smartphones that continue to make an impact since their launch last year.

Here they are in no particular order:

iPhone 12 series (starts at US$ 799)

Design-wise not much has changed for the iPhones, but that’s not where you should be looking. Not only does the A14 chip deliver the usual performance bump, the cameras are also reportedly better and all these iPhones can now access 5G. It also helps that there’s four of them to choose from so there’s likely an iPhone just for you.

WATCH:
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Buyer’s Guide
Unboxing iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (US$ 699)

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is meant to be a sub-flagship smartphone but its pricing still lands it on our premium category — something we probably need to revisit sooner than later. That said, this is a GadgetMatch favorite. It has all the “necessities” of a flagship smartphone in a plastic, easy-t0-grip build and is just an easy recommendation for people who can’t spend north of US$ 700 on a smartphone.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 (US$ 1,999)

This is about as premium and as cutting edge as it gets. Samsung followed up its Galaxy Z Fold with a much more refined and polished Galaxy Z Fold2. It smoothens the rough edges of the first generation device and the result is what probably is the best foldable on the market right now.

WATCH: Galaxy Z Fold2 Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (US$ 1299.99)

The Snapdragon 865 Plus vs Exynos 990 hullabaloo notwithstanding, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra continues to represent the best that the Galaxy Note line has to offer. The S Pen’s latency has improved and the cameras are a refined version of the S20 Ultra. Galaxy Note loyalists will find that everything they love are still here — improved and refined.

WATCH: Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Review

Huawei Mate 40 Pro (EUR 999)

The Huawei Mate 40 Pro is everything you’ve come to expect from Huawei’s flagship Mate line — fantastic hardware and smart AI. Of course, there is the lingering issue of zero access to Google Mobile Services, but Huawei has done all it can to mitigate this. A change in leadership in the US provides hope but it’s not something we would hang our hats on.

WATCH: Huawei Mate 40 Pro Unboxing and Review

Huawei P40 Pro+ (EUR 1399)

The only thing wrong with this phone is no fault of its own. It doesn’t have Google Mobile Services because of a silly trade war. But everywhere else, this phone can make the case as the very best. It looks and feels premium and of course, its crowning glory are its cameras. It pushes the boundaries of optical zoom unlike any other, proving once again that Huawei makes fantastic hardware.

READ: Huawei P40 Pro+ review

ASUS ROG Phone 3 (EUR 1099)

ASUS  doubled down on everything that made the previous generations of the ROG Phone great and gave us yet another spec-monster. Maxed-out specs, maxed-out mobile gaming. It has more competition in the mobile gaming smartphone space this year, but it’s still firmly ahead of everyone else in the pack.

Review: ASUS ROG Phone 3

OnePlus 8 Pro (US$ 899)

This phone has made its way into Michael Josh’s pocket as his Android daily driver. That says a lot. OnePlus has firmly placed itself as a legitimate competitor in the premium flagship space doing enough in the camera department (its long time waterloo), and finally adding wireless charging.

Review: OnePlus 8 Pro

Google Pixel 5 (US$ 699)

Perhaps the biggest, most noticeable difference between the Pixel 5 from its predecessor is the price is the launch price. The best Pixel from last year would burn your wallet for US$ 200 more. Another key difference is the processor used. Instead of going for the most premium flagship SoC, Google opted to equip the Pixel 5 with Snapdragon 765 instead. It might be puzzling for any other phone maker, but with Google’s optimization, it may be more than enough to power your daily needs.

WATCH: 2020 Google Pixel Buyer’s Guide

 

LG V60 ThinQ 5G Dual Screen (US$ 899.99)

Dual screen, pen support, the usual flagship internals, and a triple camera setup with no silly gimmicks. LG knew exactly what it was doing with the LG V60 ThinQ 5G Dual Screen. It’s a phone designed to lend you an extra hand in your quest for the ultimate mobile productivity.

REVIEW: LG V60 ThinQ 5G

vivo X50 Pro [CNY 4289 (around US$ 614)]

A gimbal system on a smartphone camera? Now that sounds new! Not only did vivo make a flagship-grade smartphone with an innovative camera system, they also made sure all the rear cameras are actually useable. Elsewhere on the phone, it performs day-to-day tasks with ease and also supports 5G connectivity.

Review: vivo X50 Pro

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Best Smartphones

Best Midrange Smartphones from $200 to $400

January 2021 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 US$ 200 to US$ 400.

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 other lists for best budget, upper-midrange, and premium smartphones.

Here they are in no particular order:

Samsung Galaxy A42 5G (EUR 349)

Starting this category with what will be the theme for most of this list — 5G-capable phones for less. That’s exactly what the Galaxy A42 5G is. It misses the upper midrange category by a hair but what you’re getting here is everything you’ve come to expect from the Samsung A-Series at this price point but with the benefit of the next gen mobile connectivity.

HANDS-ON: Samsung Galaxy A42 5G

 

Moto 5 5G (INR 20,999/ US$ 285)

Motorola is back in the Philippines and while the razr is their top-of-the-line offering, they kept in mind the midrange market by offering what might be the most affordable 5G-ready smartphone right now. That’s great value right there on top of its Snapdragon 750G SoC and a vanilla Android experience.

FIRST LOOK: Moto G 5G

Pixel 4a (US$ 349)

The one reason why anyone would pick this more affordable pixel over anything else is the camera. And if that’s what you’re here for, then you won’t be disappointed. Google’s computational photography is still at work here plus you get vanilla Android.

WATCH: Google Pixel 4a Unboxing and Review

 

realme 7

realme 7 — PhP 14,990 (US$ 309)

The Pro version is reserved for the Snapdragon chips while the non Pro is equipped with MediaTek. It’s like clockwork now for realme, and this value for money smartphones are what we should expect from them from here on out.

REVIEW: realme 7

iPhone SE (US$ 399)

One of the world’s fastest processors, a fantastic camera, at a midranger’s price. If we told you, we’re talking about an iPhone you probably wouldn’t believe us but here we are. The iPhone SE’s design is dated, but everything about its performance is near-flagship or flagship 2020 levels.

REVIEW: iPhone SE

Huawei Nova 7 SE (US$ 399)

Barely making the price point, Huawei phones are facing a unique problem with the lack of Google Mobile Services. That said, Huawei Mobile Services is making a headway. But the reason the phone lands on this list is because of its 5G capabilities. This is the first smartphone in this category to offer 5G — that has to count for something.

HANDS-ON: Huawei Nova 7 SE

POCO X3 NFC (EUR 269/INR 19,999)

The POCO X3 NFC might represent the ultimate value-for-money phone. It’s what the brand had been known for and they are doubling down on that mantra. The combination of  a smooth 120Hz display, newer Snapdragon 732G chipset paired with Adreno 618 GPU, massive battery, and fast charging out of the box with that price is too hard to pass on.

HANDS-ON: POCO X3 NFC

Samsung Galaxy M31 (INR 15,999/US$ 224)

This battery-powerhouse of a smartphone has never quite made it to more markets, but it has gotten a significant amount of attention thanks to its 6,000mAh battery. Something this long-lasting appears to still be one of the priorities of smartphone buyers.

HANDS-ON: Samsung Galaxy M31

Samsung Galaxy M51 (PhP 19,990)

Samsung appears to have a monopoly of battery beasts in this category with both the Galaxy M31 and now the Galaxy M51 making the list. Both will last you longer than you realize with the Galaxy M51 having better overall performance. Cameras are pretty much on the same level but you’re buying this for the massive 7,000mAh more than anything else.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy M51

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Best Smartphones

Best Budget Smartphones below $200

January 2021 Edition

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Welcome to GadgetMatch’s list of the best smartphones priced below US$ 200! 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

POCO M3 (EUR 139)

Judging this solely on paper alone, the POCO M3 is in collision course with the realme Narzo 20 in terms of pricing and overall target market. POCO was relentless in releasing good value for money smartphones in 2020 and the POCO M3 is no different. It has fun camera features that you can play with. Granted, the image quality won’t leave jaws dropping, the output is still… fine. It’s also slated to perform relatively well. A fine option at this price range.

SPECS: POCO M3

realme Narzo 20 (PhP 7,990)

Easily the best gaming-skewed smartphone in the this price range. Budget phones these day tend to be focused on a few things and then have comprises in some areas. That seems to be the case here as you shouldn’t expect much from this phone’s cameras. But what it lacks in shooting, it makes up for in letting you play the most popular mobile gaming titles with relative ease.

REVIEW: realme Narzo 20

Infinix Note 7 (around US$ 165)

Here’s another phone in the same price range as the realme Narzo 20 and the POCO m3. Like the latter, this appears to be aiming at a more balanced approach — a smartphone for a smartphone’s sake. It has all the essentials, performs just about as advertised, and takes fairly decent photos.

REVIEW: Infinix Note 7

Redmi 9C (EUR 139)

Many people are struggling to get by and shelling out cash for a phone is potentially not within the priorities of survival. If anything, it could be what someone needs, but cannot afford. So, as much as phones like the Redmi 9C have a catch to their low cost, it’s well worth it.

REVIEW: Redmi 9C

realme C15 (US$ 144 / PhP 6,990)

The realme C15 is essentially just the realme C11 but on steroids. Specs-wise, they have many similarities with a few improvements here and there. This is still a reliable purchase for people (or even oldies) who just want a basic phone without spending too much.

REVIEW: realme C15

Redmi 9 (PhP 6,990 / US$ 141)

Quality build with baseline specs that can handle, well, the basics. This is what the Redmi line has been offering and that remains true with the Redmi 9. You’ll have to be bit creative with some of the apps you install (always go for the Lite versions), but the pre-installed Google apps run smoothly and should be more than enough to power you through.

HANDS-ON: Redmi 9

 

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