Smartphones are getting more and more expensive these days. There was a time when RM2,499 for a flagship smartphone was considered excessive; today that price is considered fair. That said, you can still find some gems if you look closer – some smartphones offer pretty great value for money.
On top of that, with the increasing frequency of smartphone launches these days, some previous-gen models become genuine steals for their reduced prices. With that in mind, here are some of the best value for money smartphones on Shopee.
Given its price point, we’re looking at relatively modest smartphones with decent hardware. There isn’t much emphasis on design or materials – just a good price to performance ratio.
Xiaomi Redmi 4A
There are a few smartphones we’ve found with 2GB RAM that’s cheaper than this, but this is the best specced budget smartphone you can find in the market today. Xiaomi features quite prominently in this list, and for good reason. The Redmi 4A has a more powerful Snapdragon 425 chipset, and has 2GB of RAM as well as 32GB of expandable storage. It also has a 5-inch 720p display, and the camera department gets a big jump: 13MP f/2.2 rear and 5MP f/2.2 front cameras.
There’s also a larger 3,120mAh battery, and its MIUI ROM is based on Android 6.0.1.
HTC Butterfly 2
The beauty of finding good deals is discovering hidden gems like these. The HTC Butterfly 2 is a few years old now, but its depreciation in value is faster than the depreciation in hardware.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor was a flagship-class chipset, and you get a 5-inch Full HD panel Super LCD panel as well as a 5MP selfie camera. The only drawbacks are the 2GB RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, and a somewhat small 2,700mAh battery, but for this price range, that’s more than acceptable.
On top of that, you get a dual-camera setup long before it was cool: the HTC Butterfly 2 has a 13MP rear camera with a 2MP depth sensor, which allows you to refocus images using the Duo Camera software.
Xiaomi Redmi 4X
This isn’t the first Xiaomi phone in the list, and it sure as hell isn’t the last. The Redmi 4X is basically one tier above the Redmi 4A, which comes at a rather small RM130 increase.
For that price jump, you get a better Snapdragon 435 chipset with 3GB of RAM, a 13MP f/2.0 camera with PDAF, a much larger 4,100mAh battery, a fingerprint scanner, and a metal body, too. Other notable specs include a 5-inch 720p display, 5MP f/2.2 front camera, dual-SIM 4G, 32GB expandable storage, and MIUI 8.
Samsung Galaxy J3 Pro
Samsung’s newer models in the J series don’t quite offer the same levels of hardware against the Xiaomi phones at this price point, but the J3 Pro is an interesting model to consider.
It runs on an Exynos 7570 quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, as well as 16GB of expandable storage. The Galaxy J3 Pro packs a modest 5″ 720p TFT display, but makes up for it with a metal body, 2.5D glass display, and even a 13MP f/1.9 rear camera. It also runs on Android 7.0 Nougat and Samsung’s own UX which comes with Dual Messenger support, letting you use two social media accounts simultaneously on the same phone.
And, Samsung Malaysia is offering an extended warranty (1+1 year) as well as a one-time screen replacement warranty for every purchase of the Galaxy J3 Pro until the end of October 2017.
RM600 – RM1,000
This is easily one of the hottest and most highly-contested price point in the Malaysian smartphone market. From the models seen here, it can easily be noted that their price-to-performance ratio is exceptionally high – the set of hardware you get for the price you pay makes these phones some of the best value smartphones you can find.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (4GB/64GB)
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 was a huge success among Malaysians, and the Redmi Note 4 proved to be just as popular. For the Malaysian market, the Redmi Note 4 comes in two flavours: 3GB RAM/32GB storage and 4GB RAM/64GB storage. While the 3GB RAM option is pretty solid at RM679 today, the 4GB RAM is really worth the additional RM140 or so.
For just RM815, you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor paired with 4GB RAM, a 5.5-inch Full HD display, a 13MP f/2.0 rear camera with PDAF and dual-tone flash, a 5MP f/2.0 front camera, a massive 4,100mAh battery, a fingerprint sensor, and a metal body – amazing value for money.
This is, for most of us in the team, the best value for money smartphone you can find in Malaysia, until…
Xiaomi Mi A1
…this came along.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 may be pricier than the Redmi Note 4, but the new additions make it really sway in our favour. It runs on a similar Snapdragon 625 chipset as the Redmi Note 4, and the same 4GB RAM and 64GB expandable storage configuration. It also has a similar 5.5-inch Full HD display, a rear fingerprint sensor, and a smaller 3,080mAh battery.
But here’s where Xiaomi mixes things up. The Mi A1 sports a dual-camera setup at the back, featuring two 12MP sensors which allow for 2x optical zoom and Portrait Mode, features which are previously reserved for high-end smartphones.
Not to forget, this is also an Android One device, which means it runs on stock Android instead of MIUI (except for the camera app). For a phone you can get for under RM1,000, this is pretty unprecedented.
Huawei P10 Lite
The most affordable of the Huawei P10 series just got a lot more affordable. The P10 lite carries over the sleek good looks of the Huawei P10 in a more budget friendly setup.
With a Kirin 655 octa-core processor with 4GB RAM, the P10 Lite is a perfectly capable mid-range smartphone. It has a 5.2-inch Full HD display, 32GB 32GB of expandable storage, 12MP rear and 8MP front-facing cameras, as well as a 3,000mAh battery. It also has a glass back and a rear fingerprint sensor.
RM1,000 – RM1,500
Xiaomi Mi Max 2
Essentially, the Mi Max 2 is a larger Redmi Note 4. You get the same Snapdragon 625 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB expandable storage, but with a massive 6.44-inch Full HD display as well as an equally huge 5,300mAh battery.
Besides that, a full metal unibody enhances the device’s aesthetics and feel, while the 12MP rear camera has larger individual pixels for better low light performance.
Another example of a previous-gen device that’s still solid today. The Honor 8, released in 2016, still boasts powerful hardware – and for its price today, makes for a pretty good deal.
It is powered by a Kirin 950 octa-core chipset with 4GB RAM, while the 32GB of internal storage can be expanded via microSD cards. The Honor 8 also features a 5.2-inch Full HD IPS panel, a 3,000mAh battery, an 8MP front camera, and finally, a dual 12MP f/2.2 rear camera setup.
Huawei Nova 2i
Why a dual camera when you can go quad-camera? Just launched in Malaysia very recently, the Huawei Nova 2i packs a really strong punch with its hardware package and price.
For just RM1,299, the Nova 2i features a Kirin 659 octa-core processor with 4GB RAM and 64GB expandable storage, while a new 5.93-inch 2160 x 1080 FullView 18:9 display makes its Huawei debut here. The quad-cam setup consists of a 16MP + 2MP rear and a 13MP + 2MP front camera setup; in both cases, the 2MP sensor is used to measure depth and distance. A 3,340 battery, rear fingerprint scanner, and a dual-SIM slot rounds up the impressive specs list.
Apple iPhone 6 32GB
If you want to experience iOS, this is a good place to start. Apple’s iPhone strategy is to allow its older iPhone models to trickle down the price range, making them attractive introductory devices to the iOS ecosystem.
Its specs is naturally modest, with an A8 dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM, but iOS is an efficient platform. The 8MP iSight rear camera and 4.7-inch Retina display are no longer class-leading, but this is the most affordable iPhone in the market today.
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
In terms of hardware, the Galaxy A7 (2017) certainly isn’t as impressive as the others in this price range (only 3GB RAM?!), but Samsung adds some useful features on this device.
For instance, this is the only smartphone in this list (at this price range) that offers IP68 rating for water and dust resistance. It also has a 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display, which is a Samsung specialty, as well as a unique 16MP f/1.9 front and rear camera sensors. Rounding up the specs list is a Samsung Exynos 7880 1.9GHz octa-core processor, and fast charging via USB Type-C.
RM1,500 – RM2,000
This used to be one tier below flagship level, but with premium smartphones now zooming past the RM3,000 mark, you could only find some flagship-level features on phones at this price point. Nevertheless, as we said, a closer look will yield some interesting propositions…
OnePlus shares a similar philosophy of offering premium specs at low prices, and its previous flagship, the OnePlus 3T, is a good testament to that. It was one of the first smartphones with 6GB of RAM, while the rest of the spec sheet makes it an excellent good upper mid-range model.
The OnePlus 3T features a Snapdragon 821 processor with 6GB RAM, 64GB of non-removable storage, a 5.5-inch Full HD display, 16MP rear and front camera sensors, a 3,400mAh battery with Dash Charge, and runs on OxygenOS.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Yes, we know this phone is already two years old and pretty long in the tooth, but if you need a phone with a stylus and does not set you back RM3,999, this is the phone for you.
Powered by an Exynos 7420 processor with 4GB of RAM, the Galaxy Note 5 also sports a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display, 32GB of expandable storage, and a 3,000mAh battery – and the S-Pen, of course.
Honor 8 Pro
It may be a refreshed variant of the Honor 8 from last year, but this upgrade is pretty significant. There’s a new, faster Kirin 960 octa-core chipset with 50% more RAM at 6GB, a larger and sharper 5.7-inch 2560 x 1440 IPS display, and a 4,000mAh battery that’s roughly 30% larger than its predecessor.
Add in an 8MP seflie camera and a dual-camera setup (12MP + 12MP) at the rear, and you’ve got a pretty fantastic package for its price.
Diamonds in the rough
There are so many smartphones out in the market today that it can be really difficult to spot a good one at the right price. But as we’ve shown in this extensive list, there are smartphones out there with great value for money.
As you can see, the list above was compiled from what we found on Shopee, which offers a Lowest Price Guarantee program that covers hundreds of smartphones on the e-commerce site. Shopee is so confident that any product with the Lowest Price Guarantee is the lowest among all e-commerce websites, it will offer 120% of the price difference back to you if a lower listing is found on other e-commerce sites. All products listed here is covered by the Lowest Price Guarantee.
That’s not all. Shopee is also offering RM100 off any RM1,500 on Lowest Price Guarantee items using the code LOWYAT100. Simply enter the code at checkout to enjoy the voucher and enjoy more discounts on the value for money smartphones.
Disclosure: This article was sponsored by Shopee Malaysia.