Best Local Android Smartphones That Cost Less Than Php 5,000 : The Q1 2014 TechPinas Writer Fellow Edition

The holiday season may be over but I'm sure a lot of you are still in the mood for some smartphone shopping. Those who have lots of moolah to burn shouldn't have any problem picking the right handset but I would imagine that budget-conscious gadget fans would have a few more things to consider - especially the price - before making the big leap.

So, which phone would give you the best value for your money? TP friends, I have prepared a list of the best Android phones - in my opinion - from local players, worth Php 5,000 and below that you can choose from depending on your preference. Some may like it big, some like it just the right size, and the techie yet budget-conscious ones I'm sure would favor feature-packed mobile devices with dual SIM and dual standby capability, HSPA+ and Bluetooth connectivity, WIFI, FM radio, GPS/GLONASS support, multi-core CPUs, and a large battery pack. Well, whatever your preference is, we've got all that covered.

Mark of TP: Why local phones? From what we saw in 2012 and 2013, it appears that Pinoy tech companies have taken it upon themselves to offer better technical specifications on handsets for a lower price compared to their international counterparts, which is laudable. If you're on a tight budget but you're dreaming of getting decent features and specs on your future purchase, it's understandable that you would be inclined to check out releases from our loyal players.

In no particular order, here are my personal favorites of the best Android smartphones from Pinoy companies under Php 5,000. It’s good to note that all phones on this list run on Android Jelly Bean operating system.

First on the list is Cherry Mobile, which may well be the most aggressive in terms of product offering among all the local brands. Almost every month, the Filipino tech company releases a new phone which reflects CM's vision of releasing a smartphone for everyone!

The Cherry Mobile Flare 2x is the third iteration to the successful Flare budget Android series. It flaunts a 4-inch IPS display with 800 x 480 pixels resolution and is powered by a 1.2 GHz Quad Core MSM8225Q CPU with Adreno 203 graphics chip. The internal memory is 4GB (expandable to 32GB via microSD card slot) while the RAM is 1GB. Imaging is handled by the 8 MegaPixel shooter with LED flash and VGA front-facing camera. Battery power is only 1500 mAh, which means you should consider always bringing your charger with you or better yet, have a powerbank on hand. The CM Flare 2x is available via Kimstore, the most trusted online gadget store in the Philippines, for Php 4,499.

The second CM handset on this list is the second generation Burst. A bit pricier than Flare 2x at Php 4,699 (Kimstore), the Cherry Mobile Burst 2.0 boasts of a 4.5-inch screen with 854 x 480 resolution display and runs on a MediaTek MT6589 CPU clocked at 1.2 GHz. The Mediatek chipset on this handset is said to be more powerful than the MSM8225Q on Flare 2x which possibly explains why this is a bit expensive. However, its RAM is limited to 512 MB only and its main camera only has 5 megapixel resolution. It is powered by 2,000 mAh battery which when compared to that of Flare 2x, is definitely bigger but considering that the phone has a larger screen, the uptime of the Burst 2.0 may still be similar to that of the former.

Not to be outdone, Starmobile is positioning itself as the better choice in the local scene with its competitive smartphone prices, improved handset camera optics, and enhanced after-sales service. Late last year, the company announced the Starmobile Navi, a budget phone that features a 4-inch WVGA display, 1.2 GHz Quad Core Broadcom BCM23550 processor, VideoCore IV GPU, 1GB RAM, and a 5 MegaPixel main camera.

The Navi’s BCM23550 chipset enables superior voice calls quality with support for Wideband-AMR (HD Voice) and advanced voice call quality enhancement technologies. It’s also interesting to note that instead of the usual GPS support, the Navi make use of GLONASS, an alternative navigational system developed by the former Soviet Union. Sources say that GLONASS provides more accurate data than GPS due to the orbital positions of satellite. Navi’s suggested retail price is Php 4,690.

Another Starmobile model, the Jump is very competitive as it has an official suggested retail price of only Php 3,890. And for that amount, you already get a 4-inch WVGA display, Dual Core 1.3 GHz CPU, HSPA+ connectivity and an 8 MegaPixel camera! Considering its very affordable tag price, I would say the Jump is really a steal with all of these features. Others may belittle it because its SoC only has two cores but I guess it also consumes less enery, which means longer uptime.

A relatively new player in the local mobile phone industry, Cloudfone made everyone excited in 2012 when it introduced the Thrill 430x with mammoth battery capacity – a whooping 4,160 mAh! The Thrill 430x sports a 4.3-inch WVGA capacitive touch screen and uses a scratch-resistant IPS OGS display. It has 768 MB RAM, 4 GB ROM that can be expanded to 32 GB via microSD card slot, and an 8 MegaPixel camera with dual LED flash. The handset is powered by a 1.2 Ghz Dual Core Qualcomm processor – the same Snapdragon chipset found on the CM’s 2012 best seller, the Flare. Although its a rather old release, Cloudfone has updated the Thrill 430x to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and has lowered the SRP to just Php 4,990.

Late last year, MyPhone released what it calls its "first budget phablet", the MyPhone Hail. Sporting a large 5-inch FWVGA capacitive touch screen, the Hail uses a low-power 1.3 GHz Dual Core MediaTek MT6572 processor which integrates 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and supports FM radio and GPS. And it handles multitasking on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with 512MB RAM. It has a 5 MegaPixel fixed-focus camera with LED flash and a VGA front camera. Users get a removable 2,000 mAh Li-Ion battery so you can expect longer uptime when using this phablet! The MyPhone Hail retails for Php 4,598 and is now available at all MyPhone kiosks and stores nationwide.

Next on the list are the identical twins, MyPhone A888G and A888 Duo. Both sport a 4.5-inch IPS capacitive display however, the A888G’s resolution is 854x480 (218 ppi) while the A888 has qHD (960x540) with 245 pixels per inch image density. The A888G has 5MP main camera with dual LED flash and VGA front camera, and has motion, proximity and light sensors. It weighs about 150 grams. Meanwhile, the A888 Duo has 8MP main camera with dual LED flash capable of 720p HD video recording and 1.3MP front camera. It also supports TV-out function, has dual-mic noise reduction feature for clearer voice calls, and weighs about 135 grams. Other than these, the rest of the technical specifications are the same – 1GHz Dual Core MT6577 processor, PowerVR SGX531 GPU, 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage than can be expanded to 32GB via microSD card slot, and a 1,800 mAh Li-Po battery. MyPhone is currently holding a sale for the twins together with other MP gadgets. A888G Duo sells for a discounted price of Php 3,900 while the A888 Duo costs a bit pricier at Php 4,900.

The Torque Droidz Avatar TV features a 5.0 inch FWVGA screen, 5 MegaPixel back camera, VGA front cam, 4GB internal memory, 512MB RAM, and 1 GHz Dual Core processor, supports 3G connectivity, and has dual SIM, dual standby function! It's your usual Android budget phone with a bonus: Mobile Analog TV! This makes Avatar TV a great gadget for local free TV and telenovela fans! And it costs only Php 3,999!

The Torque Droidz Quad, as the name suggests, runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with a 1.2 Quad Core MT6589 processor. It comes replete with a 4.5-inch display with FWVGA resolution, supports HSPA+ connectivity, and has 512 MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage expandable via microSD card slot. You get a 8 MegaPixel shooter at the back while the front cam has a 2 MegaPixel sensor, which should be good enough for taking selfies! Looks like Torque is keen on really pushing for their budget quad core phone and they are now offering it at a price of only Php 4,999 with free jelly case and screen protector!

There you have it TP friends, my top picks for Android phones by Pinoy companies worth Php 5,000 and below! Does your list include one or all of these phones, too? Let me know your thoughts.

OK, maybe you are wondering why I did include our favorite brand O+ in the list. Well, technically, O+ is an American company just like Motorola and Apple. In the same manner, Gionee and THL are mobile phone companies with headquarters based outside the Philippines and are, therefore, considered foreign. In the coming days, I will also come up with a post similar to this, which includes phones by all manufacturers.

Mark of TP: One budget handset from a local player that I really like that Dino didn't include in the list is the Cherry Mobile Flare S. Selling for only Php 4,499, the small yet sleek CM Flare S comes with a powerhouse 1.3 GHz Quad Core MT6582 processor (great for playing specs-intensive games), an impressive 1 GB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage expandable via microSD card slot, 4-inch 400 x 800 pixels IPS display, 8 MegaPixel main camera with LED flash, and a 0.3 MP front cam. One down-side is the small 1,400 mAh battery pack but all things considered, it's an amazing device.

Dino Prestado, TechPinas Writer Fellow#TPWriterFellows Batch 1 Member and DOST Scholar from Bicol University, Dino Prestado, is a High School Chemistry and Physics teacher. He holds a Master's Degree in Physics Education and is a Full-time technology and gadget enthusiast.