It is a universal truth that whenever you purchase a low end budget phone you are giving up something in return for paying the ultra low price. How big a deal this sacrifice is depends on how important you consider the feature you are sacrificing to be.
The well known dirty secrets about cheap phones
All low end budget phones (anything below $180 in my book is budget) skimps on one or more of the following features:
- Camera- low budget phones often come with a rubbish camera that either takes grainy images or will not work in low light
- Battery- phones that retail below $70 usually come with a horrible battery to match. You will be lucky to have 12 hours of screen time before recharging which means less Instagram, Facebook and ever important WhatsApp. That or you can mitigate this by hurling around a powerbank the size of a motor cycle battery.
- A mediocre processor- you can make a cup of coffee before Facebook loads and by the time you reply to a group message everyone has moved on.
- Garbage screen which comes with no protection so is prone to scratches, fingerprint smudges and a single crack will render the whole touch screen useless. No rich colours. No Gorilla Glass.
- Tiny RAM. If you are buying anything with less than 1GB you are an idiot ( cannot sugar coat this), 2GB is standard, 3GB preferable and anything higher awesome. Having less RAM will mean constant page and app reloads
- Slow and/or small ROM. Anything below 8GB is to be avoided, 16GB is the norm and anything above 32GB is to be preferred
- Made by Zheng- Zheng will not provide you with timely security patches consider the Meltdown and Spectre flaws that have everyone’s panties in a twist. Who is going to save you from these? Stick with known brand names Samsung, Xioami etc
- No ROM updates to the next Android release: Are you going to get Oreo on your device that you bought with Nougat?
- No fingerprint scanner and other missing features e.g. sensors
NB Cheap smart phones are cheap on features
Xiaomi’s midrange devices to the rescue
The easiest fix would be to get the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and be done with it. I know for a fact however that my wife would kill me if I were to spend $500 on a phone I cannot imagine what she would do if I spend more than a thousand on one.
The new Xiaomi midrange series in the form of the new Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus offer a nice compromise for those who are looking for a great device at a price that will not make your eyes water. As the name suggests the Redmi 5 Plus is more like the big brother to the Redmi 5:
|Specification||Redmi 5||Redmi 5 Plus|
|Processor||Snapdragon 450 Octa Core 1.8GHz||Snapdragon 625 Octa Core 2.0GHz|
|Screen||5.7 inch 1440 x 720 HD+ screen, 282ppi||5.99 inch 2160 x 1080 FHD+ screen, 403ppi|
|Infra Red Blaster||Yes||Yes|
|Android Version||Nougat 7.1||Nougat 7.1|
|Battery Duration with 12 hours screen time||One day in tests by RedSkull||One and half days in tests by RedSkull|
|Sensors||Accelerometer,Ambient Light Sensor,Gravity Sensor,Gyroscope,Hall Sensor,Proximity Sensor||Accelerometer,Ambient Light Sensor,Gravity Sensor,Gyroscope,Hall Sensor,Proximity Sensor|
|SIM||Dual/One with memory card||Dual/One with memory card|
Which should I buy?
If screen size and battery matter to you so much that you are willing to pay $20 more (see calculations below) for it then the Redmi 5 Plus is the way to go otherwise the Redmi 5 is what I would recommend.
|Cost||Redmi 5||Redmi 5 Plus|
|Import Duty (25%)||47||50|
NB These prices include ZIMRA charges, shipping and the purchase prices.
If these prices are too steep for you then you might consider buying from my list of recommended budget devices with a landing cost of less than $150 i.e. the prices of these gadgets is less than $150 when you include shipping and duty.
As always feel free to ask questions and comment.