Smart budget buys for smartphones
Upgrading your smartphone while halving your mobile bills has never been easier
The arrival of SIM-only plans from telcos here can potentially halve your mobile phone bills, but these plans do not come with handset subsidies.
But there is no need to fret if you plan to upgrade your handset along with a SIM-only plan.
With smartphone technology maturing, entry-level phones now sport technical specifications that could be found only in high-end phones just a few years ago.
Budget phones these days pack in features such as dual-SIM ports, high-definition screens and speedy processors that can handle almost any app you throw at it.
Here are seven budget smartphones that offer great bang for your buck.
REDMI NOTE 3 ($299)
The Redmi Note 3 is an excellent all-rounder with a jaw-dropping price of only $299. It sports an all-metal premium jacket and comes with a snappy fingerprint sensor.
No other entry-level smartphone has managed to pull off a luxury look the way the Note 3 has.
It is also packed with powerful processors that ensure a seamless user experience free of lag.
Thanks to the amazing battery capacity, the phone can easily run an entire day with fairly heavy usage without a recharge.
Dual-SIM |32GB Internal Memory (Expandable)| 3GB RAM | Snapdragon 650 processor | 16/5MP Rear/Front Camera | 4000mAh battery
ASUS ZENFONE MAX ($249)
The Zenfone Max is a budget smartphone that eliminates the need for powerbanks.
The incredible battery on this device lets you run the phone for up to two days without recharging - a feat that no other smartphone can match.
What's more, it can act as a portable charger for your other devices.
However, the huge battery capacity means that the Max ends up being a tad heavy.
The Max has an infrared laser sensor in its camera, which helps you snap photos almost instantaneously as it focuses much faster than traditional smartphones.
Dual-SIM |16GB Internal Memory (Expandable)| 2GB RAM | Snapdragon 410 processor | 13/5MP Rear/Front Camera | 5000mAh battery
HUAWEI GR3 ($268)
This fairly versatile entry-level smartphone is sleek and light and fits well in either hand or pocket.
The EmotionUI software that the GR 3 has is intuitive to use and delivers a smooth user experience.
The processor on this phone is more than capable and should allow you to run most applications smoothly.
The only downside to this phone is the display - it isn't full-HD, unlike that of most of its competitors.
Dual-SIM |16GB Internal Memory (Expandable)| 2GB RAM | MTK6753T processor | 13/5MP Rear/Front Camera | 2200mAh battery
HUAWEI GR5 ($378)
The GR 5 is a great value-for-money smartphone.
Unlike most smartphones with dual-SIM ports that can only either be used for a SIM card or expandable storage, the GR 5 has three ports which let you use two SIM cards alongside another expandable storage card.
There is also a nifty fingerprint sensor at the back, which allows users to unlock the phone, answer calls, and take pictures with just a touch.
The only issue with this phone is the limited RAM, which is important for running multiple applications at the same time.
Dual-SIM |16GB Internal Memory (Expandable)| 2GB RAM | MSM8939 processor | 13/5MP Rear/Front Camera | 5000mAh battery
OPPO F1 ($429)
The OPPO F1 is a remarkable selfie shooter with a premium build. Its metallic chassis looks and feels amazing. The front and rear camera are both spectacular, capturing light and colour in a way that few mid-tier Android smartphones can match.
Even under low-light conditions, photos are still remarkably good. The processor is fairly decent as well, so you should not expect lags if you don't intend to use it as a portable workstation.
Dual-SIM |16GB Internal Memory (Expandable)| 3GB RAM | Snapdragon 616 processor | 13/8MP Rear/Front Camera | 2500mAh Battery
SONY C5 ULTRA ($465.80)
If you are looking for a multimedia phablet, you should check out the C5 Ultra.
This sleek and glossy phablet has a great display that simply shines when compared to other smartphones, and is great for watching your favourite drama series.
What's more, the C5 Ultra sports very good front- and rear-facing cameras that take crystal clear images. The camera app is packed full of powerful features that lets you change modes even when taking videos.
Its one weakness is that it isn't made for multitasking and its processor is on the lower end of mid-tier smartphones.
Dual-SIM |16GB Internal Memory (Expandable)| 2GB RAM | MediaTek 6752 | 13/13MP Rear/Front Camera | 2930mAh Battery
LENOVO VIBE SHOT ($479)
The Vibe Shot is Lenovo's latest attempt at building a dedicated shooter. It sports a 5-inch display and has a squarish silhouette that gives it a rather masculine feel.
While it feels pretty light, not everyone will be a fan of the chassis, which has a plasticky feel.
The camera is impressive, with powerful upgrades that help you take optimum shots in almost any condition. The selfie camera on the front is also designed to help take wide-angled group photos.
The speed on the phone is above average and battery life is average.
Dual-SIM |32GB Internal Memory (Expandable)| 3GB RAM | Snapdragon 615 processor | 16/8MP Rear/Front Camera | 3000mAh battery