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Shootouts

Shootout: The best smartphones under S$350

By James Lu - 26 Jun 2015

Conclusion

Conclusion

The mainstream smartphone category just keeps getting better and better, and all the while dropping in price. Just for comparison, eleven months ago, we did a shootout of 4G LTE smartphones under $600. All of our phones were between 4.2 to 4.7-inches and none of them had Full HD displays. All of them had just 8GB internal storage, and most of them had pretty terrible cameras. A year later and this year's batch of mid-range smartphones are closing the gap to flagship phones, and have also dropped to almost half the price of last year's models.

Breakdown of Scores
  ASUS ZenFone 2 ZE551ML 2GB RAM Lenovo A7000 Microsoft Lumia 640 LTE Phicomm P660 Xiaomi Mi 4i ZTE Blade S6
 Design 8.0 6.5 7.5 8.5 8.0 7.5
 
 Features 8.0 7.0 7.0 7.5 8.0 7.5
 User-Friendliness 8.0 7.5 7.5 7.5 8.0 7.5
Performance

8.5

7.0 7.0

7.5

8.0

(revised up from 7.5 in original review)

8.0
Value 9.0 8.0 7.0 8.5

9.0

(revised up from 8.5 in original review)

7.5

Price $349 $229 $300 $318 $279 $349
Overall 8.5 7.0 7.0 8.0 8.0 7.5

Here's a summary of each smartphone for this comparison and their final standings:-

Final Ratings & Summary
ASUS ZenFone 2 ZE551ML 2GB RAM

Click for detailed results break-down

 

The winner of our shootout is the ASUS ZenFone 2, not only for its overall excellent benchmark scores, but also for its ergonomic, premium design and top notch Full HD display. If you’re in the market for something a little more powerful, you can opt for the $429 4GB ZenFone 2, which also has a slightly faster processor.

 

Xiaomi Mi 4i

Click for detailed results break-down

Xiaomi is known for great value and the Mi 4i is no exception. It's the only phone with a Full HD display under $300 in our shootout and it also boasts a more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor than the more expensive Phicomm P660 and ZTE Blade S6. 

Phicomm P660

Click for detailed results break-down

We were very impressed by the Phicomm P660 and for a first entry into the Singapore market, it's a great start for the Chinese brand. At this price range, almost everything is entirely plastic, so the P660's magnesium alloy side panels are a very nice premium touch. The phone is also incredibly light and thin too. Unfortunately its battery life is a bit lackluster and the lack of Androud 5.0 Lollipop is a big disappointment.

 

 ZTE Blade S6

Click for detailed results break-down

The ZTE Blade S6 is an unusual phone. It looks quite nice, but that's only because it looks exactly like an iPhone, and once you get closer you can see that the back is cheap plastic and not aluminum. Personally this reviewer would rather have a phone that maybe doesn't look as good, but isn't such a blatant copy of another, more premium phone. At least then, it doesn't feel like you're trying to fool people into thinking you have an iPhone.

 Lenovo A7000

 Click for detailed results break-down

The Lenovo A7000 is remarkably cheap and offers great value, but that's about all it has going for it. Its design is very plain, and it was only average in our benchmark tests.

 Microsoft Lumia 640 LTE

 Click for detailed results break-down

The Microsoft Lumia 640 LTE is a good alternative for anyone who's sick of Android, but it's let down by its old Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and very sub-par 0.9-megapixel front-facing camera. 

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