Smartphones

Our daily drivers and what we’d rather use

Each GadgetMatch member chimes in

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While we agree that the best smartphone is the one we have in our pockets, we can’t help but want more out of our gadgets, or simply something else.

In this feature, we expose our daily drivers and which smartphones we’d rather use. Whether they be fictional or real yet unavailable, these are our true GadgetMatches.

Daily driver: Huawei Mate 20
Prefers: Xiaomi Mi MIX 3

In 2018, you can pick up any flagship and expect it to work superbly for your daily needs. So as we end the year, there’s been one phone that does exactly that but also brings an exciting extra feature: the sliding pop-up camera of the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3. I don’t take a lot of selfies so I won’t necessarily need to slide out those front facing selfie cameras for what it’s actually there for. But I’m not gonna lie, the added feature of being able to fidget with it is something that makes me super curious about wanting the phone on the daily.

Daily drivers: iPhone XS and Honor 10
Prefers: Xiaomi Mi MIX 3

While I’m completely happy with my current daily drivers, I still find myself wanting to use a phone that’s not yet widely available in the world. I was lucky enough to test the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 while I was in Beijing and boy did I want to take it home! It’s essentially a Mi MIX 2S in a sliding form-factor, and with much-improved cameras. I just wish it also came in white like its predecessor.

Daily driver: LG G7 ThinQ
Prefers: OnePlus 6T… but with an ultra wide-angle camera 😜

One of the underrated mobile phones to be released this year is the LG G7 ThinQ. Despite its mouthful name, it’s a pretty good all-around device. Aside from its fun-to-use ultra-wide-angle camera though, everything about the phone is just so-so. That’s why I’d love to go back to using a OnePlus phone, especially the latest model, the 6T. I love everything about the OnePlus 6T — its display, performance, build, and software. Wouldn’t it be nice to also equip it with a wide-angle shooter? The secondary camera of the 6T is rather redundant to the main sensor, so I’m hoping OnePlus would consider adding one soon.

Daily driver: Not Pink Pixel 3
Prefers: An actual pink Pixel 3 🤬

I can’t let go of phones from the Pixel line simply because I trust their cameras most. I don’t just want good selfies, I want an actual phone that I can take in place of cameras. That being said, it really wouldn’t have killed Google if they made an actual pink phone instead of teasing me with this half-baked maybe pink device.

Daily drivers: Galaxy Note 9 and Mate 10 Pro
Prefers: A tougher and more robust flagship smartphone

I love how smartphones today are so feature-packed that they can be used for leisure and productivity on the go. If I’m not out raiding legendaries in Pokémon Go, I’d be out shooting with a camera and my smartphone. Thing is, I’m the kind of user who doesn’t put a case on his smartphone simply because I think feeling the material and its texture are part of the phone’s experience — that plus it bulks up the phone. But today’s high-end phones scratch easily with everyday handling so having a tougher protective glass would really be a good addition. Maybe for Gorilla Glass 10?

Daily drivers: Pixel 3 and Mate 20 Pro
Prefers: Razer Phone 2

I must say, using the Pixel 3 and Mate 20 Pro together is a match made in tech heaven. I get the latest Android updates and compact dimensions of the former, as well as the versatile cameras and incredible battery life of the latter. And yet, what I really want is a smartphone that simply games. It’s been a Razer Phone 2 versus ROG Phone type of year, but my money is on Razer’s side. Sticking to the 16:9 screen ratio and front-facing speakers has become invaluable for mobile gaming, which is something I’ve gotten more into lately.

Daily drivers: Huawei P20 Pro and LG V40 ThinQ
Prefers: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

I’ve been in love with Huawei’s P series ever since they collaborated with Leica. It’s been a great travel companion that perfectly captures postcard- and instagram-worthy photos. But sometimes, I’d wish they add a wide-angle feature — something that I like from the LG V40 ThinQ. This is why I prefer the Mate 20 Pro. It’s packed with three versatile rear shooters that can handle any adventure I go on.

Daily drivers: Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro and Pocophone F1
Prefers: The Xiaomi Mi 8 with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s cameras

I’m generally happy with the Xiaomi Mi 8. It’s a great performer and I think it’s the absolute sweet spot for me in terms of size. While its cameras are pretty good, they just aren’t at the level of the Mate 20 Pro’s which are great under any lighting condition. Since this fantasy phone isn’t happening any time soon, I’m content with the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro. It’s a great multitasking machine plus I really enjoy MIUI!

Best Smartphones

Best Midrange Smartphones from $200 to $400

December 2019 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:

Realme XT (US$ 333)

The Realme XT is our choice for best smartphone with a 64MP camera. This smartphone produces flagship-level photos.

REVIEW: Realme XT

Xiaomi Mi 9 SE (US$ 300)

Xiaomi has always been a part of the list and the Mi 9 SE truly deserves its spot. It’s a flagship-grade phone from its design to its specs. It’s dubbed as a “compact flagship” thanks to its smaller-than-usual form factor. If you’re looking for a phone that won’t hurt your pockets both in size and price, check out the Mi 9 SE.

REVIEW: Xiaomi Mi 9 SE

Realme 5 Pro (US$ 232)

A quadruple-camera setup at this price point seems unlikely but Realme made it happen. And it’s not just the setup, the lenses actually take photos with good image quality. That would have been enough to recommend this but it also has a Snapdragon 712 AIE chip with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you’re looking for a great deal, this is it.

HANDS-ON: Realme 5 Pro

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2 (US$ 245)

While not as affordable as its predecessor, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 still does several things most phones can’t even dream of at this price point. We get an upper-midrange chip, large 5000mAh battery, versatile cameras, and a pure take on Android.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2

Huawei Nova 5T (US$ 367)

Huawei managed to put a flagship-level chip with a glass back and with triple cameras on a midrange phone. These are things you expect from brands like Xiaomi but Huawei was able to pull it off as well.

READ: Huawei Nova 5T

Samsung Galaxy A50s (US$ 345)

Samsung’s pivot to the A series has been fantastic and the Galaxy A50s is another proof of that. It’s a refinement of everything that was good with the Galaxy A50. If you’re a die-hard Samsung fan looking for a midrange phone, the Galaxy A50s is a solid option.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A50s

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Best Smartphones

Best Budget Smartphones below $200

December 2019 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:

Redmi Note 8 (US$ 155)

The Redmi Note 8 is proof that you can put quality cameras on a budget smartphone. It has a 48MP main shooter which is what you’ll find on most flagships and midrangers. With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC, it should also have no trouble handling basic gaming and other tasks you do on your phone.

READ: Redmi Note 8

ASUS ZenFone Max M2 (US$ 175)

We were disappointed to find out that the ZenFone Max Pro M2 went above the US$ 200 mark, but we still have the non-Pro Max M2 to buy at this price point. Fortunately, the fast Snapdragon 632 processor, large 4000mAh battery, and dual rear cameras remain.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone Max M2

OPPO A5s (US$ 117)

The OPPO A5s perhaps is best looked at as a transition device more than anything else. It does what you expect out of budget smartphones. It’s good to have “for now” but you might look elsewhere for a more reliable daily driver.

REVIEW: OPPO A5s

Realme 5 (US$ 154)

Realme is giving Xiaomi a run for its money on our top-of-mind easy phones to recommend. The Realme 5 is a real treat for people looking for a budget smartphone that provides more than what they need.

HANDS-ON: Realme 5

Samsung Galaxy A20 (US$ 190)

Samsung’s revived Galaxy A-series proves that the company cares about every price segment. The Galaxy A20, in particular, is the most well-rounded below US$ 200 thanks to its ultra-wide camera, AMOLED display, and hefty battery.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A20

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Best Smartphones

Best Upper-Midrange Smartphones from $400 to $600

December 2019 Edition

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on

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:

Redmi K20 Pro (US$ 364)

With the future of Pocophone up in the air, the Redmi K20 Pro fills the category that the sub-brand created for itself. On paper, it’s equipped with flagship specs but without the price tag usually associated with top of the line smartphones.

READ: Redmi K20 Pro

Realme X2 Pro (CNY 3299)

The Realme X2 Pro has flagship killer written all over it. Equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ and a 64MP camera sensor along with three other cameras, this phone promises to be a powerhouse with a price tag that doesn’t require sacrificing any of your internal organs.

HANDS-ON: Realme X2 Pro

Google Pixel 3a (US$ 399)

Years after the death of the Nexus line, Google has finally unleashed a more affordable Pixel phone that still has the same great set of cameras. While the body is now plastic and the processor isn’t as fast, the Pixel 3a still runs circles around the competition at this price point.

REVIEW: Google Pixel 3a

Xiaomi Mi 9 (EUR 449)

Xiaomi once again brings the latest and fastest processor available to the midrange segment. That’s right: The Mi 9 has the Snapdragon 855 chipset, and it doesn’t cost a fortune. Not only that, Xiaomi’s flagship also has speedy wireless charging and class-leading cameras.

REVIEW: Xiaomi Mi 9

OnePlus 7T (US$ 599)

When the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro came out, the company wanted to clearly communicate that they’re competing in the premium space. Fast forward to the OnePlus 7T and it looks like they are back to their flagship killing ways offering premium-level specs at a price lower than most top-of-the-line flagships.

UNBOXING & HANDS-ON: OnePlus 7

ASUS ZenFone 6 (EUR 499)

ASUS wowed us with the ZenFone 6 and its new Flip Camera. The unique mechanism of the phone’s camera not only allows a notch-free display, but it also lets users take incredible selfies using the primary shooters. Also, ASUS has blessed its new smartphone with the latest specs possible at a competitive price point.

REVIEW: ASUS ZenFone 6

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