Smartphone Buying Guide – Comparison of low-end smartphones in Pakistan
With the variety of brands and models available in the smartphones market these days, choosing one can be a daunting task. It requires a clear identification of one’s needs and an educated comparison of different specs related to them, to make sure that the chosen phone fulfills one’s requirements and gives the best bang for the buck.
Being a complete computer on its own, a smartphone has plenty of different components, each contributing to the functionality and experience the phone provides. Some of the important things are the processor, memory, operating system (OS), camera, network and connectivity features and the battery capacity.
So we’ll have a look at a few, budget smartphones released not too long ago in the Pakistani market and have a look at their features to see which ones are a good value for money.
To keep the discussion and possible comparisons meaningful, they have been roughly split into two sets based on their capabilities and price ranges. One is below Rs. 11,000 and the other above. The selection of phones is supposed to give an idea regarding the capabilities of smartphones at different price points in the lower budget zone. We’ve also tried to pick phones that might be good value for money, but not that well known.
Rs. 5,000 – Rs. 11,000
Calme Spark S12
The “Spark S12” from Calme mobiles comes in for a little under Rs.5000. It runs the Android 4.4 Kit Kat on a 1.2GHz Dual Core processor. The 512MB of RAM might prove a bottleneck in some applications and multitasking is out of question. There might be hangs and freezes in even moderately demanding apps. However, the general use should be smooth. The internal storage capacity isn’t a lot, but it is acceptable given its price range.
The 3.5” screen might be good enough for some users or small for others, depending on personal preferences and use. But the image quality would be pretty good for its price tag, given the high pixel density (hence better images).
The cameras are nothing to boast about, but that would be expected given the price of the phone. The low capacity battery also wouldn’t stay up for long even under use.
The phone has some of the lowest specs possible, but might be considered appropriate. It is more suitable for people who want a smartphone experience at the lowest cost possible. Just browsing and maybe some basic apps.
Calme Spark S24
The S24 is similar to its smaller cousin (S12) in some respects and gets slight upgrades over it in others. The processing power has the same shortcomings. The processor is clocked 300 MHz higher, but the RAM is the same. Its overall dimensions are the same, but the screen is slightly larger and 4 inches. Internal storage is the same amount as the S12, but the memory cards of up to 64 GB can be used to extend it. The primary camera is also slightly improved at 5MP, which is good for its price. The battery timing would be similarly low, as the slightly larger 1400mAh battery has to contend with a larger screen and a faster processor.
So the S24 would be for the same group of people as the S12, but willing to pay slightly more for a larger screen and a more decent camera.
Microsoft Lumia 430
Lumia 430 is a Windows based smartphone running Windows Phone 8.1 and one of the few Windows phones at the budget end of the price spectrum. Its 1.2GHz Dual Core processor is coupled with 1GB of RAM, which gives it some good processing power for its price. Its 8GB internal storage can be complemented by a memory card of up to 128GB. It is uncommon for a smartphone of this price range to be able to handle a 128 GB memory card.
However, the cameras are slightly less than what one might expect for its cost. The primary camera has a resolution of 2MP, while the secondary camera has a simple VGA resolution.
Although Windows phones are far behind Android and iPhones in market share, Microsoft’s recent focus on handheld phones has finally brought an OS in the shape of Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 that is at least comparable to its competitors.
The usual complaint about Windows phones is the number of apps available for them vs Android and iPhones. The facilitation for developers in porting apps from other OSs and small increase in market share means that developers have the incentives to create apps for Windows Phones and that is visible in the increasing number of applications that are available for Windows.
It is one of the cheapest Windows phones. So if someone wants to try out a Windows phone, this phone doesn’t require breaking the bank while offering most things a user might need.
Rivo Phantom PZ8
At the upper end of our low-tiered smartphones is Rivo’s Phantom PZ8. Although slightly more expensive compared to the other phones, it is pretty well rounded in its capabilities (for its price). The cameras are surprisingly good, given the phone’s price. The primary back camera is 12MP with an LED flash, giving the phone photography enthusiasts something to work with. The front camera is also a respectable 5MP, which is sufficient for its intended purposes.
Like the other phones, it also runs Android 4.4. The 4.5” screen has a decent picture quality. The quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM will give a pretty smooth experience with most apps. The internal storage is 4GB, of course, extendable via a memory card.
The 2000 mAh battery is be larger than its other counterparts. Despite the fact that this phone also sports a quad-core processor and a larger screen, the battery timing might better than its previously mentioned competitors.
All round, it is a decent phone for its price. This phone is especially good for those who take a lot of photos with their phones.
Rs. 11,000 – Rs. 16,000
QMobile A1 (Google Android One)
Recently, QMobile released the Pakistani variant of Google’s Android One. Android One phones are budget smartphones targeted at user’s markets in the developing countries. The hardware design is a standard approved by Google and there is official support for OS updates from Google while the manufacturing and sales are carried out by local partners. In Pakistan, it is in the form of QMobile A1.
The processing power it offers is good for its price. After all, it is planned to run newer versions of Android for some time. The main processor is a quad-core version of Cortex A7, clocked at 1.3 GHz. As the hardware design comes from Google, it is no surprise that the basic use is pretty smooth. With 1GB of RAM and ARM’s mid-range Mali 400 GPU, it would also be safe to assume that A1 would be able to run most everyday applications and some resource heavy games as well.
The 4.5” screen’s quality, however, is not as good as the other phones in its price group here. The 217 PPI pixel density is lower than many of its competing phones. The rest of the specs are pretty standard. It has 8GB of internal memory that is extendable with a micro-SD card of up to 32 GB. The cameras may be just fine depending on what you demand from a phone’s camera. Similarly, the 1700 mAh battery might also give an up time that is less than one would want (especially under constant use).
Besides its overall balanced hardware, the big selling point for A1 (or any future Android One phones) is Google’s support. You get Android’s latest Lollipop version right out of the box with none of the additional bells and whistles that many users don’t like.
Furthermore, the phone is planned to get new updates directly (including the next Android version, “M”), rather than the annoying waiting periods with most smartphones, between new updates being rolled out by Google and then by the vendors on to their phones (if planned for your model at all). And as the hardware design is from Google, you can be confident that newer versions will run safe and smooth on A1.
Rivo Phantom PZ10
The first phone from the second group of smartphones is Rivo’s Phantom PZ10. The PZ10 is similar to the PZ8 with some notable upgrades.
First among them, it might be surprising that its 4.7” screen has a much higher pixel density than its siblings from the better-known brands. Just to get a rough idea about how good this is, iPhone 6’s is 326 PPI. Since resolutions’ effects differ with screen size, the pixel density is a more accurate indicator of how well-defined images on the screen would be. The LCD uses in-plane switching (IPS), which offers respectable images from relatively wide viewing angles, compared to TFT LCDs. Its 1.2GHz Quadcore, ARM A7 processor and 1GB of RAM (like the PZ8 before) would ensure a fluid experience running most applications on Android 4.4.
The GPU (graphics processing unit), Adreno 302 is pretty standard in this price range and would offer a decent performance in most applications. However in games with comparatively more detailed 3D graphics, there will most probably be drops in frame-rates.
The internal 8GB memory is another improvement over the PZ8. But it is pretty much standard within its price range. It would suffice for a large number of apps. Of course, it can be complimented by up to 32GB of external memory with a micro-SD card for pictures, music, videos etc.
The 1800mAh battery is one of the standards for a phone of this size and gives a decent time out on average use. But it won’t hold up for long if the Quad Core processor starts getting used in full throttle.
The PZ10 is close to PZ8 in terms of price as well as specifications. So if you’re a photography enthusiast, but want a better screen and more memory than what the Rivo Phantom PZ8 offers, this could be it.
Infinix Hot Note
The Infinix Hot Note has some pretty impressive specs, when it comes to its processing power. It has an 8-Core A7 processor clocked at 1.4GHz. Its four-core GPU, the Mali 450-MP4 is also clearly more powerful than the other GPUs in this price category. This combination would ensure that most apps and games would run well, even some of those with some serious 3D graphics. This phone packs quite a punch compared to other phones in its category.
However, it is possible that the processing power might not be fully utilized in some cases, as the 1GB RAM will hold the octa-core processor back, not allowing it to multitask in case of resource heavy applications. Internal storage is 8GB, extendable via micro-SD card. The screen is comparatively large and suitable for low-intensity reading. The quality is fine. It is a 5.5” IPS LCD with a pixel density of 267 PPI.
Hot Note has an 8MP back camera with an LED flash and a 5MP front camera. Both are just fine for this price range and what they would be used for normally.
The phone has a large battery with a capacity of 4000mAh. Despite its large screen and power hungry processor, the battery time is better than the smaller less powerful phones that have 2000mAh batteries. The battery life alone is an attractive feature of this phone.
With its processing power and screen quality, this phone would be suitable for users who use their phones to watch high-quality videos and play games that are taxing on the hardware.
Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
Samsung’s Galaxy Core Prime also has an ARMv8 based 1.3 GHz, Cortex A53, quad-core processor, the Adreno 306 GPU and 1GB of RAM. So it is also pretty well-rounded with respect to processing power. The internal 8GB storage can be expanded with a micro-SD card, up to 64GB. Although it comes with KitKat, it has an official update to Android 5.0 (Lollipop) available.
The pixel density of the screen is low. Being a TFT LCD, the viewing angle would also be limited, compared to an IPS display. Overall, the display quality is a little underwhelming, considering it is a Samsung smartphone. The 5-megapixel back camera is again a little less than one might expect but, the picture quality is still good. The front camera has a 2-megapixel resolution. The 2000mAh battery is pretty standard in phones of this size and would be good enough for everyday use.
Although looking at it component by component, the Galaxy Core Prime doesn’t look very impressive for its price (except its processing power, maybe) the overall package provides a good smooth experience with up to date software, powerful hardware, a decent battery and good connectivity options.
The thing that makes it worth mentioning in this list is the 4G connectivity it offers. It is one of the cheapest phones that allows 4G connectivity and it is also well balanced in its other specifications. So if you want a phone that lets you connect to your 4G network and don’t want to spend a fortune on it, this is the one.
Lenovo isn’t very well known for its phones in Pakistan, especially since it is a relatively recent entrant into mobile phone arena. But their low-end entries might change that.
Lenovo’s A5000 runs Android 4.4, KitKat. An upgrade to 5.0 (Lollipop) is planned, but the exact date hasn’t been announced yet. It has decent processing power for its price tag. A quad core Cortex A7, clocked at 1.3GHz combined with the ARM’s Mali-400, which is the starting model of their mid-range GPU line. 1GB of RAM complements these processors.
Its 5.0” screen is of a high quality. It is an IPS LCD so the viewing angles would be good. The image quality will also be good due to its high pixel density (294 PPI). The back camera is a respectable 8 megapixel, while the front one has a resolution of 2 megapixel.
Like the Infinix Hot Note, one thing that stands out for the A5000 is its battery size. Its 4000mAh battery is a big leap on the 2000mAh batteries that most other phones in this price range use. Although intense use can still bring the battery to its knees quicker than one might want and the apparent two-fold increase in capacity isn’t strictly visible in practice, it would still perform a lot better than its 2000mAh counterparts.
With its overall well-rounded specifications and larger than average battery capacity, the Lenovo A5000 would be great for those who would want a decent overall smartphone experience and stay away from a charger for as long as possible.