For many, cheap and cheerful smartphones make sense
George Zhao Zhiwei

Some Malaysians are willing to fork out a lot to purchase flagship smartphones from leading brands, but there are many who opt for the cheaper and affordable ones

By Kevin Wong / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM

New smartphones are launched every few months and it is costly to keep up with the trend of the latest technology in the market.

While some Malaysians are willing to fork out as much as RM5,000 to purchase the flagship smartphones from leading brands such as Samsung and Apple, there are many who opt for the cheaper and affordable alternatives.

A recent report stated while high-end products create an impression they are superior in quality, the price tag tends to keep buyers away from these luxury items.

Honor Malaysia head George Zhao Zhiwei previously told The Malaysian Reserve its affordably priced brands will continue to grow in the country.

He said Honor’s focus on research and development (R&D) has made its smartphones affordable.

“The R&D controls both the supply chain and the R&D costs for the development of the devices,” he said.

Asus Malaysia country head and business development manager Leo Tseng also said the company continues to produce products with better features at affordable prices, realising there is an opportunity to be tapped in the mid-range market.

For entry-level and mid-range smartphones users, opting for a cheaper alternative is a pragmatic decision, as long as the phone has all the necessary features.

Some like 62-year-old retiree, Lee Kim Yun, believe it is unnecessary to have the latest phone model, rather the focus is on affordability.

“After retiring, I opted to trade-in my old iPhone 6 for a Huawei Y7 Prime as it was a lot more affordable. Why would a retiree like me spend more than RM3,000 for a smartphone?” she said.

She noted that with technology advancing at a rapid rate, it is impossible to constantly keep up.

“If you have a limitless finance, then yes, you can do whatever you want,” she said.

Public relation manager Anna Tai, 45, bought a Xiaomi Redmi Note 5A Prime for her teenage son because of its affordable price tag.

“I do not think my 13-year-old son would need an iPhone X to keep in contact with us and his friends. Initially, he was hoping I would change my iPhone 7 for the iPhone 8, but I did not see the need to do so.

“It is much cheaper to get him the Redmi instead of purchasing the iPhone 8 for myself,” she said, adding flagship smartphones were too costly.

Meanwhile, 24-year-old civil engineering student, Mohd Adam Farid, said he would rather purchase mid-range smartphones as he did not want to opt for a mobile plan with a tele- communications (telco) provider.

“I will be paying much more if I signed a two-year contract with any telco provider. It may look cheaper at first, but after doing the math, you are paying more for the smartphone, especially for flagship models.

“So, that’s why I have set a budget to pay less than RM1,000 when I buy a new smartphone,” he said.

Here are some of the affordable smartphones currently in the market:

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5A Prime

Xiaomi smartphones are among the top selling affordable smartphone brands in the Malaysian market.

Since its inception here, Xiaomi has offered value across the price range of its smartphones and the Note 5A Prime is one to look out for.

The Redmi line specifications are not groundbreaking, but are designed to appeal to those who are not looking for a flagship-level smartphone at an affordable price point.

The Xiaomi Note 5A Prime is designed with a plastic-feel body but for the price of RM699, it would be too much to ask for a metal body.

The smartphone sports a 5.5-inch HD 720 display and runs on a Snapdragon 435 processor.

Under the hood, the Redmi 5A Prime comes with 3GB RAM and 32GB of on-board storage (with a microSD slot for expandable storage).

The camera on the Redmi Note 5A Prime with a higher resolution 16MP f/2.0 selfie camera while the rear a 13MP f/2.2 is an upgrade of the standard Redmi Note 5A.

Samsung Galaxy J3 Pro

Known for its flagship models Galaxy S9, S9+ and the Note 8, Samsung J-series offer an affordable entry-level smartphones in the market.

At RM699, the Samsung Galaxy J3 Pro comes with a 5.0-inch HD 720p TFT display and runs on an unspecified Quad-Core processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage.

The smartphone features a 13MP f/1.9 rear camera while the front camera sports a 5MP f/2.2 shooter.

At the time, the J3 Pro comes with a 2,400mAh non-removable battery and it charges via a microUSB.

Honor 9 Lite

Honor 9 Lite is the first Honor Lite series to be introduced in Malaysia following its inception in the European and Indian markets.

And just six hours after it was launched here, e-commerce platform Shopee and Honor’s official online shop, vMall, noted that Honor 9 Lite had sold over 2,500 units.

The outstanding sales performance makes it Honor’s best online selling model since its inception four years ago.

Retailing at RM749, the Honor 9 Lite has a 5.65-inch with an 18:9 display which runs on the latest Android 8.0 Oreo with EMUI 8.0.

The key attraction is its appeal to shutterbugs and selfie enthusiasts as it sports dual-lens 13MP+2MP cameras on both front and rear, making it the first quad-camera Honor smartphone in the market.

It comes with a FullView FHD+ display screen to let users see what they are capturing in it’s fully glory.

Under the hood, the Honor 9 Lite runs on the Kirin 659 processor and is equipped with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of in-phone storage (expandable up to 256GB via microSD).

In terms of battery, the smartphone sports a 3,000mAh battery and supports fast-charging technology, Super Charge. It would take slightly more than two hours to get a full charge.

Huawei Y7 Prime

Being of the world’s biggest smartphone brand, Huawei, has catered to the various segments of the smartphone market in Malaysia.

Its flagship Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro are priced lower than Samsung’s and Apple’s flagships.

If your budget is below RM1,000, the Huawei Y7 Prime would probably be your perfect fit.

Retailing at RM999, the Y7 Prime comes with a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 720 pixels by 1290 pixels.

Powering the smartphone is the 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor paired with 3GB of RAM.

The Y7 Prime is packed with 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 265GB via a microSD card.

It has a 12MP primary camera on the rear and an 8MP front shooter for selfies.

The Huawei Y7 Prime runs on Android 7.0 and is equipped with a 4,000mAh non-removable battery.