Mid-range for the Masses: Best Sub-P20,000 Smartphones in the Philippines
by: The Beat Asia
May 05, 2023
The smartphone market in the Philippines can be overwhelming, but for the most part, that’s a good thing. Whatever features you’re looking for, you have options. That’s what happens when you have a mixed bag of active consumers.
For this list, however, we will focus on the mid-range category. The most interesting segment of smartphones is where budget and tech-mindful buyers look for an appropriately priced phone with specific (but powerful) features. Fortunately, gone are the days when brands took away flagship functionalities and released unfairly priced and severely incapable units that don’t even have any update runway at all. Now, thanks to the presence of new manufacturers dedicated to giving consumers the most bang for their buck, everyone upped their game.
Let’s not delay, shall we? Here are 10 sub-P20,000 smartphones, in no certain order, that you should consider if you’re in the market for a capable mid-ranger.
Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G
Forgetting Xiaomi’s confusing release cycle for a minute, let’s focus on an absolute gem in their line-up: the Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G. This is Xiaomi’s, or Redmi’s, solution to capturing the mid-range market: throwing numbers and powerful specs at the problem. OLED screen, 5,000-mah battery, 5G connectivity, 120-hertz refresh rate, 50-megapixel Sony camera sensor, and 67-watt fast charging mean you get everything with this phone, except for a few unnecessary things that would have put this phone over 20k.
- Sony IMX766 (50MP+OIS)
- 67W Turbo Charge
- Dolby Atmos and Hi-Res Audio certified
Honor X9a 5G
Honor knows that the screen, out of every feature present in a smartphone, is going to be a swing factor for buyers. Good screens create customers, but great screens create loyal customers. The X9a’s OLED screen boasts a 120-hertz refresh and what Honor calls deeply reinforced glass strength. The result of that extra attention on screen durability is amazing, and that means clear, scratch-free viewing for years. If Honor can take the extra step of providing long-term OS updates, then they have an all-timer with this unit.
- 5100-mah battery
- Deeply-reinforced OLED screen
- Under-display fingerprint sensor
Samsung Galaxy A23 5G
The Samsung Galaxy A23 has two connectivity variants, 5G and 4G/LTE. At this point, even if 5G’s returns are still subpar, it’s worth springing for the 5G model. Other than future compatibility, the 5G variant simply offers more performance. And if you’re going to buy a Samsung phone, you need the extra power to keep up with the software updates. This company does compete with Apple for a good reason, and this phone, despite being one or two steps away from their flagship line, is worth a second look.
- Snapdragon 695
- 120-hertz, smooth-scrolling FHD+ screen
- Game Booster
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G
OnePlus is one of the smartphone world’s best success stories, if not the best. But their “Flagship Killer” storyline is over. With the release of their Nord phones, particularly the Musk-ian Nord CE 2 Lite 5G, they created a new segment to make their flagship model more exclusive and attract the much-competed over mid-rangers. Big battery, historically reliable fast-charge tech, 5G connectivity, and a host of other classic mid-sections give this phone competing power. But, its Oxygen OS is what you need to see: a near-factory version of the Android’s UI.
- SuperVOOC Fast Charging
- 64MP AI triple camera
POCO X5 Pro 5G
Current price: P18,999 for 8GB+256GB (Lazada) | P18,999 for 8GB+256GB (Shopee)
POCO replaced OnePlus in many ways as a premier alternative to flagship phones. POCO continues to be reliable for classy mid-range phones with the POCO X5 Pro 5G. The yellow model is particularly striking, reminding one of a special-edition Lamborghini. That’s just the start, though. A Snapdragon chip and MIUI 14 are good enough reasons to buy this phone. This is an all-around great entry at a great price.
- Snapdragon 778G
- 900-nit screen brightness
- 4K video recording
OPPO Reno8 T
OPPO has long been a camera specialist in the mid-range smartphone category, and that tradition continues with the Reno8 T. A 108-megapixel snapper takes advantage of its proprietary “AI Portrait Camera” to produce superior results. OPPO claims that even after four years of continuous use, the Reno8 T will work like it’s fresh out of the factory. Other than that, this is probably the prettiest smartphone on this list with its fiberglass-leather body.
- 48-Month Fluency Protection
- Fiberglass-leather design
- AI Portrait Super Resolution
vivo’s marketing material for the V27e is suspiciously similar to OPPO’s Reno8 T, but try looking at it this way: both phones are two sides of the same coin. While the OPPO phone processes portrait photos much better, vivo’s swing feature is basically a built-in Ring light. And before you assume, it’s a separate flash and one that produces much better results for super-dark photography.
- Aura Portrait Light
- 256GB of storage
- 32MP vlogging camera
HUAWEI nova 10 SE
HUAWEI’s downfall was greatly exaggerated if the company is still pumping out phones for the masses like the nova 10 SE. The phone has all the hallmark hardware of a top mid-ranger, and if you can work with the limitations of Harmony OS, the nova 10 SE offers great value.
- 66W SuperCharge technology
- Customisable Always-On Display
realme 10 Pro+ 5G
Current price: P19,999 for 8GB+128GB (Shopee)
realme sponsors the Mobile Legends Cup, which should tell you everything they want to attract. After all, the Philippines has a very deep Mobile Legends player pool. Hence, this phone is built to appease the high-spec hunting mobile gamers. It’s all hinged on the MediaTek Dimensity 920, one of the faster mid-segment processors. The chip makes everything about the unit fly, whether it’s about the camera, game performance, and many more. realme also said in their ad materials that the phone is certified to work even at 75 degrees Celsius. Talk about toasty performance!
- 93.65%* screen-to-body ratio
- Double-reinforced glass
- Dimensity 920 5G
Infinix Zero 5G
One of the newcomers in the smartphone space, Infinix is approaching the market through the budget method. That should explain why the Zero 5G is the cheapest of the bunch here, but spec-wise, it’s fighting for a rightful place in this crowded segment. There are no extra stuff or anything that could be construed as luxury in a smartphone, but with a foundational performance provided by MediaTek Dimensity 1080 5G, there is plenty in this unit’s tank to get you through a busy day.
- MediaTek Dimensity 1080 5G
- 960-fps slow motion capture
- Dynamic refresh rate
Editor’s note: Prices are accurate at the time of writing.
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