Philippines

Best Upper-Midrange Smartphones in the Philippines from P20,000 to P30,000

February 2018 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 PhP 20,000 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 other lists for best budget, midrange, 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

Huawei P10 (PhP 28,990)

While it may seem odd placing one of Huawei’s flagship smartphones 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

OnePlus 5T (PhP 26,990)

The OnePlus 5 was already a front-runner for our best smartphone awards in 2017, but the updated model takes it up another notch with an even better 6-inch AMOLED display, improved camera system, and a price we’d still call perfectly fair. This will keep us happy until OnePlus’ next major release.

REVIEW: OnePlus 5T

OPPO R11s (PhP 22,800)

OPPO’s best-selling smartphone gets a noteworthy upgrade in the R11s. The company’s signature AI beautification mode is built into the selfie camera and the screen was enlarged without adding any bulk to the original body. Plus, we simply love how gorgeous its red color looks in person.

REVIEW: OPPO R11s

Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) ($540)

Sure, the prices may have gone up since this time last year, but Samsung’s Galaxy A series certainly knows how to pack as many features as it can into an upper-midrange handset. The Galaxy A8 (2018) in particular comes with an Infinity Display, dust and water resistance, and a powerful processor to operate all its advanced software functions.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018)


Updates as of February 2018:

  • Replaced LG G6 with Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018)

News

Next-gen Fossil smartwatches arrive in Philippines

There are hybrid smartwatches, too!

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When it comes to merging tech and fashion, trust watchmaker Fossil to have a knack of hitting that sweet spot. Their newest line of smart and hybrid watches are no exception.

First teased at the Baselworld 2017 watch conference in Switzerland and later at the IFA tech show in Berlin, the company is bringing its new lineup of watches to the Philippines this month.

The Q Venture and Q Explorist are Android Wear 2.0-powered smartwatches and the first from the brand to feature the new first full-round touchscreen, which may not sound like a big deal unless you’re familiar with the Android Wear “flat tire” — an incomplete circle that’s peeved many early adapters.

If smartwatches are not your cup of tea, there’s also the Q Commuter Hybrid with smartwatch-like features including activity tacking, music control, and syncing with your smartphone’s clock — all without a touchscreen display or having to charge your watch daily.

Fossil Q Venture and Q Explorist watches are available at Fossil boutiques and start at PhP 13,910. Fossil Q Commuter watches start at PhP 9,150.

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Enterprise

Philippines improves 4G LTE availability but falls short at rankings

Still one of the slowest in the world

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It’s no surprise that internet in Southeast Asia hasn’t caught up with 2018 standards. Based on several OpenSignal reports throughout the years, the region still rattles out poor ratings in 4G availability and speed.

Sadly, the most recent report shows more of the same. Though improving in reliability, internet in the region is still the slowest in the world.

The data was collected from over 4.8 million devices and almost 59 billion measurements throughout October to December last year.

The latest findings, which show definite improvements over last year’s results, offers eye-opening insights about the current state of 4G internet and its uncertain future.

South Korea still on top, but stumbles in speed

 

As with previous years, it’s no surprise that Singapore and South Korea dominate the boards once again. The world’s prime destination for eSports tops 4G availability; internet users in South Korea enjoy 4G connections for 97.49 percent of the time — a huge feat when around half of the recorded nations struggle to move past the 75 percent mark. Unfortunately, the country falls off a bit in terms of speed. Whereas the previous report clocked speeds of 43.46Mbps, this report measures a lower but still speedy 40.44Mbps.

On the other hand, Singapore tops the rankings for speed again with 44.31Mbps. Also, the country slightly improved their reliability at 84.43 percent.

The Philippines improves, but still a lower-tier country

Learning from their years-long stint at the bottom of the rankings, the Philippines finally improves their rankings with a marked upgrade on reliability. From a paltry 52.77 percent last year, the archipelagic nation now enjoys 63.73 percent 4G availability. As a result, the Philippines is no longer in the bottom 10 nations of the world, but is still the third lowest in Asia.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the country’s speed. Despite an upgrade (from 8.59Mbps to 9.49Mbps), the Philippines is the fourth slowest country in the world (and third slowest in Asia). This year’s ranking is also slightly worse than last year’s list where the country placed as only the fifth slowest.

India barely moves up

Despite a brilliant showing in 4G availability, India still holds the unfortunate title of “slowest 4G internet in the world.” Indian internet speeds average only 6.07Mbps. The sub-par speeds slightly improved from last year’s showing, which only clocked in 5.14Mbps. This may be attributed to India’s status as one of the most populous nations in the world. On the bright side, the South Asian country marginally improved its reach — 86.26 percent from 81.56 percent last year.

4G internet speeds are plateauing

4G technology started in 2010. Since then, countries continue to edge closer but miss the vaunted 50Mbps mark. As of 2018, it’s safe to assume that everyone’s hitting the hay in the hunt for speed. Most, if not all, upgrades in speed this year were marginal at best. With the apparent plateau, the world focused on providing more reliable 4G internet across the globe. Countries fared better in improving their 4G reliability.

Too little, too late?

5G is just on the horizon. Tech companies are already pushing for 5G-compatible devices; 5G will soon obliterate the 4G speed plateau. With a more efficient solution coming, we should ask whether the race for the best 4G service shows an alarming trend.

Before we know it, the race to the best 5G network will kick off. Developed countries already have a leg up. Unfortunately, those who trailed in the 4G race will fall behind even further as 5G passes them by. Even if 5G will be easy to implement, the lack of reliable 4G in developing countries will only widen the gap between 5G-ready and 4G-ready countries.

SEE ALSO: Philippines still ranks near bottom for 4G LTE speeds and availability

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Deals

10 best picks from the first Authorized Mi Store in the Philippines

We’re ready for Mi!

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I visited the first-ever, much-awaited Authorized Mi Store in the Philippines!

Xiaomi’s presence in the Philippine is not new, and even if they disappeared before, parallel importers didn’t let Xiaomi fans down. Now that they’re officially back on Philippine soil with a physical store where you can personally check out their offering, it’s time to make a Xiaomi shopping list!

Based on the item list and what we saw at the Mi Store in TriNoma, here are our top picks, aside from Xiaomi smartphones:

Amazfit Pace

The Amazfit Pace is Xiaomi’s best-looking wearable. It’s a full-featured smartwatch that runs on a custom version of Android, but not specifically Android Wear. It has a circular display, a heart rate sensor, GPS, and it’s water- and dust-resistant. You can also put your own tunes on the smartwatch so you can listen on the go via Bluetooth earphones.

Price: PhP 6,200

Mi 2-in-1 USB-C/Micro-USB cable

This is the cheapest on the list, but it’s also one of the most useful. With a 2-in-1 cable that has both USB-C and micro-USB connectors, you only have to carry one cable for charging your mobile devices. It’s a helpful accessory for those who are still transitioning to the new USB-C standard.

Price: PhP 149

Mi Box 2

Here’s a good tip: You don’t have to buy a new TV just to make it “smart” because set-top boxes like the Mi Box 2 will give your big old TV the upgrade it deserves. The Mi Box 2 runs Android TV and connects via HDMI. With this, you’ll be able to cast the contents of your phone to your TV, run apps like Netflix and YouTube, and even play games in your living room.

Price: PhP 3,490

Mi Electric Scooter

The Mi Electric Scooter is a personal favorite. Just look at how beautiful and modern it is! It’s perfect for short trips around your village, or a quick visit to a nearby friend’s place. It can last for up to 30 kilometers on a single charge, so you can always rely on it. It also folds, making it truly portable.

Price: PhP 18,850

Mi Minimalist Urban Backpack

Xiaomi is not all about electronics; they also have apparel and bags. Among the bags available in the store, the Minimalist Urban Backpack caught my eye with its simple exterior, but organized interior. It has all the pockets you need for your gadgets, glasses, documents, and pens.

Price: PhP 1,399

Mi Notebook Air 13.3 Fingerprint Edition

Xiaomi just recently ventured into laptops, and their latest release is officially here. If you’re looking for a Windows laptop that has the latest specs and a beautiful industrial design, the Mi Notebook Air 13.3 is a great option. It even supports Windows Hello with its built-in fingerprint reader. It’s powered by an Intel Core i5 processor with a dedicated NVIDIA MX150 graphics, and has a 256GB SSD with 8GB memory.

Price: PhP 43,500

Mi Power bank 2C 20000mAh

Xiaomi’s power banks have been known to be some of the best in the market. They’re good-looking, high-quality, and affordable accessories — just like this 20000mAh power bank, which is sold for less than a thousand pesos. It even has two USB ports and Quick Charge 3.0.

Price: PhP 995

MiJia Robot Vacuum

If you want to start creating a smart home, I suggest you include a robot vacuum in your early purchases. This particular one is a fully autonomous robot designed for cleaning floors.

Price: PhP 15,490

Mi Router 3

Are you still using a basic wireless router from your internet service provider? If so, you’re due for an upgrade! Xiaomi’s router will be able to help you get better Wi-Fi coverage in your home without the hefty price tag.

Price: PhP 1,190

Mi TV 4

Last, but definitely not the least, is the Mi TV 4. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the mainstream TVs in the market, you should check this out. The Mi TV 4 comes in two sizes: 49 and 55 inches. Both have 4K resolution with support for HDR content. It’s also a smart TV so you can enjoy apps right out of the box.

Price: PhP 35,990 (49-inch), PhP 42,990 (55-inch)

The first Authorized Mi Store in the Philippines is located on the fourth floor of TriNoma Mall in Quezon City.

SEE ALSO: Here’s everything the Authorized Mi Store in the Philippines sells

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