Written by Cheryl Tan


Let’s be clear, we’re not talking about the cheapest phones available. No, you’ll have to look elsewhere for those. We’re discussing the best phones you can buy for under S$1000, but still have as close to a flagship experience as possible. So let’s dive straight into our comparison of the top four all-rounder smartphones for 2019 – You can check out the individual reviews of the Google Pixel 3a XL (S$779), Xiaomi Mi 9 (starting from S$579), Vivo V15 Pro (S$699) and Oppo Reno (S$849).

Camera

This is the possibly the main thing for a lot of people these days; they want their phones to double up as a great camera. So let’s look at some specs between the four contenders.

At first glance, the Google Pixel 3a XL might look to lose out on paper because it uses a 12MP rear camera while the others mostly use 48MP cameras. But when you realise that the other phones only have 48MP cameras because they’re utilising pixel binning to compress the image into 12MP, then they’re on more even ground. Check out the Night mode on the Xiaomi Mi 9.

The whole part of what makes the Google Pixel range so fantastic is not their cameras, but more of the image processing chip inside. The chip decides how to handle photos and the Night Sight mode is absolutely fantastic for people who are looking to get into low light photography.

I also particularly like the Mi 9’s detail in the front camera, and selfie-obsessed users will too. While there are plenty of beautifying options, the base image is excellent and detailed so you have a great canvas to work on when you Meitu Xiuxiu your selfies.

Verdict: Google Pixel 3a XL (rear) / Xiaomi Mi 9 (front)

Screen

Pictured: Oppo Reno

The Oppo Reno wins this category hands down. With a screen-to-body ratio of 93.1%, the only other close competitor is the Vivo V15 Pro with 91.64%.

Pictured: Vivo V15 Pro

These two phones are absolutely perfect for people who watch plenty of videos on their phones since there’s no irritating notch or cutout to get in the way of that HD goodness! Since there’s almost no difference between these two screens, I’ll give this a draw.

Verdict: Oppo Reno / Vivo V15 Pro

Battery

Now this segment is all based on numbers, but it’s still subjective based on what you prefer. To me, most phones will last a whole day so that’s no longer part of my consideration. My primary concern now is how fast it’ll charge, so that I can be out of my house in the quickest possible time.

As of right now, the Xiaomi Mi 9 (3300mAh) is leading the pack with 27w wired charging and 20w wireless charging. The wireless charging speed is even faster than Apple’s wired charging speeds for the iPhone, so I guess that says it all.

In the future though, I’m highly interested in Vivo’s 120w charging technology that promises to charge a 4000mAh battery from empty to full in 12 minutes. You can read more about that here.

Verdict: Xiaomi Mi 9

Conclusion?

There’s never a one-size-fits-all solution, but as of right now, the Xiaomi Mi 9 is reasonably priced, has a very decent rear and selfie camera, and excellent charging speeds. For S$579 (64GB) or S$699 (128GB), I daresay you can’t go wrong with this mid-range phone purchase.