Feature Articles

The 5 best high-end smartphones to buy this Christmas

By Liu Hongzuo - 27 Nov 2023

The 5 best high-end smartphones to buy this Christmas

The best high-end smartphones you can buy as a gift in Singapore.

It’s the season of giving, and we at HardwareZone are often asked what the best gadget or device is to get for themselves or someone else. I get asked a lot about phones. 

With so many phones available, knowing which would truly delight someone else is hard. Here’s a list of the best smartphones you can buy as a gift. I’m only recommending phones that the HWZ Editorial team has tried before, so you know they are the best of everything we’ve seen thus far. 

In this gift guide, we’re looking at phones that:

  • Have an official retail price of S$999 to S$1,499
  • Are phones tested by HWZ’s Editorial team (via reviews, hands-on, etc.)
  • Are officially sold in Singapore
  • Are Android only (I have a separate buying guide for the latest Apple iPhones)

If you have a bigger budget, check out our premium-grade smartphone gift-buying guide here.

For the photography lover who wants it right in a single take

Google Pixel 8

Google Pixel 8.

Few phones come with genuinely astounding photo-editing capabilities out of the box. Those that do may not have the photography chops to match. Google Pixel 8 offers both generative AI-assisted editing (through Google Photos) and a 50MP main camera that’s on par with its Pro variant.

You can swap heads out of group pictures for perfect expressions, use Magic Editor to clean up photos effortlessly, and still shoot very vibrant-looking photos during the day and night. Its stock Android UI and decent battery life help to give it great value overall — it even earned Editor’s Choice from us. 

Google Pixel 8 retails at S$1,099 (128GB) and S$1,119 (256GB). Purchase links are below:

Check out our review here.

For someone who can’t let go of Huawei

Honor Magic5 Pro

Honor Magic5 Pro.

Honor has been a separate, independent smartphone brand ever since it was hived off from Huawei a few years ago. It’s active in the European market, bringing on reasonably high-quality phones with the latest Android processors and extensive partnerships for app development. 

The brand is now back in Singapore, and its latest flagship-grade offering is the Honor Magic5 Pro. Not only does it have a 2023 flagship phone chipset, but it also uses Honor MagicOS 7.1 for its operating system — a true Android 13 reskin with access to Google Mobile Services and the Google Play Store. 

Most importantly, MagicOS is visually almost identical to Huawei’s OS, making the Honor Magic5 Pro the sensible alternative for Huawei fans to use in Singapore.

Honor Magic5 Pro officially retails at S$1,249 (512GB). Purchase links are below:

Check out our review here.

For the perfect streetwear aesthetic

Nothing Phone (2)

Nothing Phone (2).

If your favourite person fancies clothing or styles from brands like Off-White, Fear Of God, The Salvages, and Mikio Sakabe, then the Nothing Phone (2) is the best phone pairing you can get to help them complete their streetwear look.

At its core, the Nothing Phone (2) works like any other Android smartphone. It has a high-powered 2022 flagship phone chipset and excellent battery life, as well as a 120Hz display and decent photos even at night. It fulfils its phone duties so well, we’ve awarded Editor’s Choice to this handset too.

The true reason to get one, however, is Glyph Interface and Nothing OS 2.0. You can customise the LEDs on the backplate, tie specific patterns to specific notifications, pair them to ringtones, or use them as a fill light when taking photos. Even minor or taken-for-granted functions like Timer and Do Not Disturb mode are integrated into the Glyph Interface.

Nothing Phone (2) retails at S$999 (256GB) and S$1,099 (512GB). Purchase links are below.

Check out our review here.

For the rising TikTok star who values both foldable style and camera quality 

Oppo Find N3 Flip

Oppo Find N3 Flip.

Getting a clamshell foldable phone to make video/photo selfie-taking easier is only the first step. Maybe the rising star also wants the phone to have no visible display crease and a powerful main camera that shoots well beyond expectations.

Oppo Find N3 Flip satisfies those requirements. It has a near-creaseless look rated for 600,000 folds, and its Hasselblad-tuned triple rear camera combo (50MP main, 48MP ultra-wide, 32MP portrait telephoto). 

The larger camera sensors, additional telephoto shooter, and branded colour science make it a worthy Editor’s Choice nominee, going beyond selfie lovers.

Oppo Find N3 Flip officially retails at S$1,499 (256GB). Purchase links are below.

Check out our review here.

For the great value all-rounder types

Xiaomi 13T Pro

Xiaomi 13T Pro.

Xiaomi T-series phones have historically been the poster child for an all-rounder high-end phone with core flagship components intact. 

2023’s Xiaomi 13T Pro takes it up a notch by bringing its Leica partnership to the mix, adding pro controls like 10-bit Log recording and 10-bit RAW shooting to its triple rear cameras. This is on top of improving its water-and-dust resistance rating to IP68 (previously, it was always IP53). 

The finishing touches are a flagship-class MediaTek processor, a 144Hz AMOLED display with HDR10+ and peak 1,200-nits brightness, on top of decent battery life and insane 120W charging. If your special someone isn’t very picky and “just wants a good phone”, you can find it here.

Xiaomi 13T Pro retails at S$1,099 (1TB), and you can get a cheaper S$949 (512GB) version if you don’t need that much storage. Purchase links are available below.

Check out our review here.
 

Read Next

1) The top Android smartphones you can buy now
2) Best value Android phones you can buy now
3) iPhone 15 series buying guide recommendation

Join HWZ's Telegram channel here and catch all the latest tech news!
Our articles may contain affiliate links. If you buy through these links, we may earn a small commission.