Feature Articles

Best of Mobile Gadgets: Tech Awards 2022 Editor's Choice Results (Part 1)

By Team HardwareZone - 15 Apr 2022

Best High-end Smartphone

Best High-end Smartphone

Discerning phone users sometimes just want a phone that packs hardware equal to flagship components, but also want none of the fluff that pushes its sticker price past a certain point. Or, they don't see a reason for overpowered components, favouring instead a balanced, yet high-quality handset.

For these folks, we have this High-end phone category that satisfies the best of both worlds: a more palatable price for the parts and features that matter. So, you're probably not getting over-the-top imaging prowess or all-metal construction, but you're still getting the best hardware, tangible features, and other perks that constitute a high-quality experience without paying out of your nose.

To make the cut, the phone has to be announced and/or released in the last 12 months and has to offer true flagship-level performance and features around the S$1,000 mark or less.

Nominees:

  • Xiaomi 11T Pro
  • ASUS ZenFone 8
  • Vivo X70 Pro
  • Oppo Reno7 Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Note: The Xiaomi Mi 11 and Vivo X60 Pro are 2021 handsets that would've also qualified for nomination in this category, but the fluidity and frequency of phone launches have rendered these alternatives obsolete for awards comparison. 

 

And the winner is...

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE may have been late to the 2021 party, but it still holds up well enough to be a winning budget flagship device that packs high-quality necessities in one.

Other brands should take note: the Galaxy S21 FE offers a 2021 top-end processor, a beautiful AMOLED display with high refresh and touch sampling rates, a decent set of all-purpose rear cameras, 5G support, NFC, IP68 water resistance, fairly-fast charging at 25W -- all for just under S$1,000 at launch (and is in fact under S$900 since the Galaxy S22 was released).

It may not sound mind-blowing until you realise how other phones of this level don't actually offer all of these features in one device. Either the processor isn't a flagship one, or its water resistance rating is lower, or it's just too compact to offer a fuller viewing experience.

Frankly speaking, the Xiaomi 11T Pro would've won with its adherence to the basics of high-quality experiences (display, processor, big battery) topped off with 120W fast-charging and an amazing sticker price. But the Galaxy S21 FE took the lead, thanks to its better UI and UX and Samsung Knox, while doing everything else the 11T Pro can to a more reasonable extent (120W charging is nuts, really). It's important to note that a phone goes beyond its device, seeing how Samsung confers its premium flagship software advancements to the FE versions, albeit a little slower than its more expensive counterparts.

Scoring Breakdown
  Xiaomi 11T Pro ASUS ZenFone 8 Vivo X70 Pro Oppo Reno7 Pro Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
Design 7.5 7.5 7.5 8.5 7.5
Performance 8.0 8.5 8.0 8.0 8.0
Features 8.0 8.0 7.5 7.5 8.0
User-friendliness 8.0 8.0 7.5 7.5 8.5
Value 9.0 8.0
(adjusted from 8.5)
7.0 7.0 9.0
Overall 8.0 8.0 7.5 7.5 8.0
Price From S$799 From S$999 From S$1,199 From S$999 From S$978

*Note: Prices and ratings listed are accurate at the time of individual product evaluation.

For more information on how the nominees fared in detail and thus helping us pick our winner, check out the full reviews and articles listed in the References below.

 

References

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