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Top 10 Smartphones on a Php20,000 budget

Last week, we shared with you our top 10 smartphones on a Php10k budget. Today, we’re kicking it up a notch with our list of 10 smartphones that fit a Php20k budget. Check out our list to see which ones made it.

Among the handsets in our list, around two are fairly new, one or two more have not been officially released in the Philippines while the rest are 6 months old or older.

The mid-range phone market (Php20k an below) seems to be dominated by flagship handsets that have depreciated in time rather than new entrants that were purposely positioned in this category.

Note: Phones are listed from highly to least recommended in a descending order (like always, prices are based on online sellers/grey market and the cheapest mall prices we’re able to find).

1. Samsung Galaxy Nexus (Php17,000 – Php28,900)

Best for people who: Want the latest Android OS updates without having to wait too long, if you want the clean Vanilla Android experience.

Not for people who: Are not ‘techy’ or unfamiliar with the technicality of stock Android OS — mostly if you’re migrating from iOS, hate the phone’s bland styling.

Pros: Very fast and fluid UI, Android 4.1 Jellybean, firmware updates are received directly from Google, no bloatware, zero shutter lag, 720p Super AMOLED HD screen, good sound quality, NFC.

Cons: Slightly outdated processor, 5MP camera, average battery life, stock Android UI can be confusing to some, poor in-call noise cancelling, bland exterior, no storage expansion slot, requires MHL adapter for HDMI output.

2. Sony Xperia S (Php19,300 – Php28,000)

Best for people who: Want a stylish, fast, user-friendly Android smartphone with lots of media capabilities and a great main camera to boot.

Not for people who: Hate big phones, flashy design, hate Sony’s software support.

Pros: Fast 1.5 GHz dual core processor, user-friendly UI, sleek and stylish, HD 720p LCD screen, great 12.1MP main camera, smooth full HD videos, extensive multimedia capabilities, unified PlayStation and Sony Smart TV integration, HDMI out.

Cons: Touch-sensitive hardware buttons are a pain to use, longer than most phones with 4.3″ screens, still on Gingerbread (ICS update soon), limited support for video formats, built-in battery, no storage expansion slot.

3. Samsung Galaxy S2 (Php18,900 – Php23,200)

Best for people who: Are performance freaks, love flashing different ROMs, accustomed to TouchWiz UI, great camera, love playing games, want a thin smartphone.

Not for people who: Are audiophiles, seek for high resolution displays, hate to frequently plug-in their phones.

Pros: Dual core Exynos 4210 is still a a great performer, unlocked bootloader, Super AMOLED screen, very thin profile, user friendly, 8MP camera takes great photos, loud speakerphone, great call quality, expandable storage.

Cons: Meager battery life, gets hot easily, poor sound quality output (from the 3.5mm audio jack), requires MHL adapter for HDMI output, low resolution.

4. HTC Titan (Php18,700 – Php23,800)

Best for people who: Crave for HTC’s solid build quality, a phone that’s running Windows Phone 7.5 (mango) with an amazing 4.7″ Super LCD screen and astonishing battery life.

Not for people who: Hate Microsoft, not a big fan of WP7, hate HTC’s familiar design motif and hate a ‘heavier-than-average’ phone.

Pros: Solid, zippy UI and highly optimized OS, reat look and feel, large screen size, great camera, great battery life, good call quality and radio reception, loud speakerphone, XBOX and Windows PC integration.

Cons: Phone’s internal hardware is ‘so last-gen’, display has a disappointing 800×480 resolution, no microSD expansion slot, hazy Windows Phone 8 upgrade path.

5. Motorola Droid Razr (Php19,500 – Php25,400)

Best for people who: Love Motorola’s solid build quality in an ultra-thin and stylish smartphone without sacrificing performance and usability.

Not for people who: Are road warriors, want removable battery, picky with display resolution, heavy users or have small hands.

Pros: Insanely thin, stylish, sturdy, adequately fast TI OMAP 4430 processor, ICS update is very close to stock Android, expandable storage.

Cons: Low-resolution pentile-matrix display, non user-replaceable battery, short-average battery life, average 8MP camera quality, thick display border width — makes it hard to grasp for people with small hands.

6. Nokia Lumia 800 (Php17,600 – Php19,700)

Best for people who: Long for the nostalgic Nokia experience. Want a simple and easy to use smartphone with an impressively durable build quality.

Not for people who: Are not a fan of the Microsoft-Nokia partnership, hate low-resolution displays, hate the WP7’s tiled UI.

Pros: Top-notch build quality, sturdy polycarbonate body shell, fast and very responsive OS, good camera, ClearBlack AMOLED display, unified XBOX and Windows integration experience, average-good battery life.

Cons: Low resolution display, last-gen single core 1.4GHz Scorpion CPU, lacks storage expansion option, not upgradeable to Windows Phone 8, built-in battery is not user-replaceable.

7. HTC Sensation XL (Php19,300 – Php23,500)

Best for people who: Feel at home with the Sense UI, want a zippy Android smartphone and great sound quality thanks to the bundled Beats earphones.

Not for people who: Think the ‘Beats’ branding is a gimmick, hate HTC Sense and are not fans of low resolution S-LCD screens.

Pros: Bundled Beats Tour earphones, Beats Audio, HTC build quality, 1.5GHz dual-core CPU, big 4.7 inch S-LCD display, good camera, roomy 16GB internal storage.

Cons: Paltry battery life, low resolution 800×480 display, aging Snapdragon CPU, Sense UI is bogged down with useless animations, no storage expansion.

8. Galaxy S Advance (Php17,800 – Php19,300)

Best for people who: Want a no-frills, dual core smartphone that can run some of the latest games while bearing the TouchWiz UI and got most of the basics covered.

Not for people who: Think that benchmarks and processor branding is more important than the phone’s most basic functions.

Pros: Super AMOLED display, 1GHz dual core CPU, Mali 400 GPU, smooth performance, good battery life, expandable storage.

Cons: Dumbed-down version of the Galaxy S2, no ICS update yet, cheap plasticky build, bland exterior styling, so-so camera performance, design does not stand out from other budget Samsung Galaxy models.

9. Blackberry Bold 9790 (Php16,000 – Php21,100)

Best for people who: Are not fans of on-screen keyboards, like cheap internet packages and want the closest experience to owning the Bold 9900 without breaking the bank.

Not for people who: Hate Blackberry’s fully QWERTY keyboard, love playing movies, apps and games on their phones.

Pros: Tactile full QWERTY keyboard, zippy UI, great battery life, cheap internet plans, BBM, high resolution touchscreen display, light and compact, highly secure Blackberry 7.1 OS

Cons: Severely outdated OS, App World lackluster compared to Google Play an iOS App Store, tiny 2.45″ display, antiquated hardware, poor 5MP camera, no HD video recording.

10. LG Optimus 2X (Php14,500 – Php19,000)

Best for people who: Want to play Tegra-exclusive games and watch movies on an HDTV easily from a phone that has a great screen and affordable price tag.

Not for people who: Are picky with UI lags, hate low resolution and crave for timely software support.

Pros: Tegra 2 processor is still capable, Tegra-optimized games, IPS LCD boasts accurate colors and good viewing angles, good 8MP camera, mini HDMI out port.

Cons: very delayed firmware updates, still no ICS, poor battery life, poorly optimized firmware, only 512MB RAM.

Quite a number of figures indicated above were taken from listings in popular online stores. Just be aware that some of the prices indicated only comes with shop warranty and not manufacturer’s warranty.

As for our favorite device among the lot, Galaxy Nexus gets a few points more since Google has already promised roll-out of Android Jelly to this handset — making its performance more “buttery”. We cannot say the same with the others on this list (expect around 6 months before they get a Jelly Bean update).

We hope our list helped you a lot in choosing where to spend your hard-earned money.

Editor’s Note: Original story and reaserch by Kevin with additional inputs and edits from Abe.

Kevin is a blogger, avid gamer and always keeps himself updated with the latest trends in technology. He's still a bit shy so no Twitter and Facebook link here.

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60 Responses

  1. aze says:

    cool list. nice job guys. one thing lang, i was looking for this list last december when i was still searching for my 1st smart phone. i hope you do this regularly. maybe you can have another list on november-december in time for bonus? thanks and God Bless!

  2. benchmark says:

    wow! very timely for my stolen droid razr…I am thinking of buying samsung note, but since I saw my droid razr here, I might go back to my droid razr…still thinking what is best for me who communtes alot.

    any help or suggestion, Note or Droid razr? :)

    • Kevin Go says:

      I would suggest getting the Note for its great battery life and screen or the Galaxy Nexus for its convenient screen size and the smoothness of jelly bean.

    • Marcelino says:

      Whaaat?! What happened to your Razr?

      I suggest you wait for Note 2 and Razr HD. Alanganin na ngayon para bumili ka ng bago. There are lots of upcoming phones.

    • Benchmark says:

      thanks for the suggestion…i will check on nexus…but I really love the build of moto razr…

      by the way, razr was “pick-pocketed” at MRT magallanes Station…biglang nagtulakan sa pinto at naramdaman ko may kumuha ng phone ko after nakapasok na kami…deym! First time! Yet it’s ok, kesa naman matutukan liek before when ninanakaw pa ang 5110.

      Anyway, I really can’t wait for Note 2 or other incoming phone, coz I am having a hard time with the nokia X1.

      I am thinking of Note…but I don’t like its plastic build…

    • Benchmark says:

      also, i like moto razr maxx…but nobody is selling it here locally.

    • Marcelino says:


      Sobrang sayang! :(

      Anyway, kung build quality ang hanap mo plus performance, go for HTC One X or One S. You may also consider Nokia Lumia 900 (polycarbonate) or Xperia P (aluminum).

      Pag Samsung, asahan mo na–plasticky yan.

  3. Vince says:

    nice. i suggested a 20k post like this sa top 10 10k smartphones post

  4. johnmark says:

    Shit, ano ang ginagawa ng government natin parang tapunan tayo ng bulok na mobile, dito sa north america quality hindi quantity. akala ko matino na pinas panay papogi pa namn si pnoy.

  5. hundredpercent says:

    Hi, Yuga. would you still recommend Nokia N9 this time as long as its still available at some stores??

    I want to have some comparable alternatives just in case i won’t be getting one. thanks!

    • hundredpercent says:

      anyone who can give response?

    • Marcelino says:


      Nokia N9 is a nice, unique phone. If you want to stand-out from the common OS’s today, MeeGo is a good alternative. However, it is Nokia’s last MeeGo device. Other than that, the polycarbonate unibody and 8MP are of above average quality.

      Few alternatives are as follows:
      – Nokia Lumia 800
      – Sony Xperia P
      – HTC One S
      – Motorola Droid Razr
      – Samsung Galaxy Nexus
      – Samsung Galaxy S2

    • hundredpercent says:


      Thanks for the tip! That’s what really made me choose N9, but I had doubts because of the time that have passed and thought that it might be more practical to look for some newer alternatives.

      btw, I made my options giving the gen with less prior.

  6. maico says:

    government+mobile=??? wtf
    top 10 20k smartphones nandito hindi
    top 10 newest smartphones
    Sir Kevin/Yuga
    pagawa naman po ng top 10 tablets

  7. stupid` says:

    Galaxy S2 is not a pentile display. It uses RGB which is better than pentile. Please verify your data before posting blogs as this may cause confusion especially when you’re placing it as a con instead of a pro.

    • Kevin Go says:

      Sorry, the S2’s section was copied from the Droid Razr’s I’m completely aware that the Galaxy S2 does not have a pentile matrix display, just a low-resolution one, I just forgot to delete that part.

      Nobody’s perfect :)

  8. Obob says:

    hahahaha nawala ung iPhone 4

    • yuga says:

      Di aabot sa budget. iPhone 4 still in the 25k range.

    • Edu says:

      Diko alam kung sadyang OBOB ka talaga o BOBO kalang pag binaliktad ka. Obviously tungkol sa mga smartphones na nasa price range ng 20k ang pinaguusapan. iPhone 4, 4s at SGSIII ay di kasama kasi beyond the price range na ang presyo nila!

  9. sylv3rblade says:

    coming from a former LG smartphone owner, i’d advise buyers to stay away from the 2X. Hardware-wise, the 2x is great. Software-wise, meh. Don’t expect any updates from LG, their ICS roll-out is still nowhere to be seen.

    • roiji says:

      yeah, I second that.
      the dual-channel + tegra 2 harmony is just a gimmick.
      mas functional pa ang Sony Ericsson Xperia mini pro kaysa sa LG Optimus 2X.

  10. gee says:

    lalo akong nkapagdecide na bumili ng SGN, i was planing to buy this on august as a gift for myself hahah bday ko kc, im a techy person kaya bagay na bagay sakin to. and the good thing its price is dropping tremendously, sana sa august 15-16k nlng yan hahah… good list there! thanks for the info

  11. Cocolumboy says:

    Bb 9790 “Cons: Severely outdated OS,” sakit nyo naman magsalita, lol :D

  12. TrixieJ says:

    nag check ako ng mga online seller like DBGADGETS, KIMSTORE, WIDGETCITY, EBUY

    infairness si WIDGETCITY ang may pinaka mababang presyo lalo na sa mga estimated price ng top 10 ni sir kevin

    • Kevin Go says:

      Haha! Keen eyes! I actually shuffle between Kimstore and Widget City.

      People at Kimstore are too busy at times to reply sa orders but they’re very accommodating mabait tlga, Widget on the other hand,fast when it comes to queries but they can seem a little ‘masungit’.

      But I trust both stores a lot :D

    • Kaloy says:

      ahaha..! i agree. masungit nga talaga sa Widget City. kaya mula nang na experience ko ang kasungitan nila di na uli ako bumili sa kanila maski mababa ang price nila. i’d rather go and choose kimstore over widget city.

    • Brymarti says:

      cheapest nga kaso poor customer service

    • tine says:

      I agree with you guys. I texted them before to inquire about their SGS2. Nagreply ba naman sakin na di daw sila masyado nageentertain ng inquiries kapag isang unit lang daw bibilhin. O_O

    • jen says:

      i just bought (july 23) a lumia 800 at nokia store and the price is 20,600.bakit mataas ang presyo pg s store ng nokia mismo bumili may difference b?

  13. Enz says:

    what is up with the Galaxy Nexus not for people who are “techy”? It’s in fact quite the opposite. It’s like you don’t even know what the word “techy” means or have no clue what a nexus device is really all about.

    • Kevin Go says:

      I meant to say ‘are not techy’ I’ve owned the Nexus S back when I was still new to the Android platform.

      I root, flash, mod and even review the latest Abyss, speedmod, franco, and other kernels on XDA developers so I’m pretty sure I completely know everything about a Nexus device.

      Thanks for reading :D

  14. ron says:

    why iphones aren’t included?

  15. chuful says:

    Kapag ba bumili sa widget city, may manufacturer’s warranty? Gusto ko sana bumili ng 32gb S3 kaso wala yatang manufacturer’s warranty.

    • JmBalicano says:

      Widget City isn’t known for offering a full manufacturer’s warranty, but they have done so from time to time. Generally, just assume it’s a service warranty unless otherwise stated. And it’s always best to ask.

    • chuful says:

      I see… Thanks po for the information!

  16. ZEF says:

    Sir Yuga can you also post, Top 10 Tablet? Budget below 20k

  17. bong says:

    I think the xperia sola (php 15990)/ htc one v (php15+++) and alcatel sapphire (php 12+++) deserves to be on this list.

  18. roiji says:

    my mom came from an LG Optimus 2X.
    she immediately bought the Lenovo P700 from the previous Top 10 Smartphones under (around) 10k list.
    her first impression of the Lenovo P700 is ‘user friendly siya unlike nung Optimus 2X ko’

    the LG Optmius 2X doesn’t deserve to be on this list…

  19. Ernest says:

    How about making a top 10 phone at 10-15K range? Entry levels naman. hehe

  20. 9790 user says:

    “poor 5MP camera”, sir compare the camera to that of the 9900 and you’re still better off with the 9790.

    • Kevin Go says:

      Compare the 9790’s camera with the Galaxy Nexus’ 5MP camera and you’ll know the reason why it’s poor.

      Both phones within the same price range, same resolution, different sensors, drastically different performance.

      There’s no denying that the 9790’s camera is still poor.

    • Marcelino says:

      Never naman kasing naging known ang Blackberry for cameras. It’s one of their weaknesses.

      BB is just for messaging and social tweaks. Nothing else.

    • JazzHawz says:

      Wow! swerte ko naman..pasok pala sa top 10 yung phone ko, hindi ko man lang naisipang isearch ky pareng google ang price ng phone until ako ay napadpad sa article na to…ganun pala ako kaMAHAL ni mader :) now loved my samsung galaxy S2, iingatan na kita lol

  21. trending says:

    thanks for the info but I think most of the phones listed here are above 20K.

    • Revance says:

      True. Aside sa Galaxy S Advance, below 20k mo lang makukuha yung ibang phones kapag walang official warranty.

  22. Ryan says:

    ok pa po bang bilihin ang Galaxy Nexus?

  23. Justin M. says:

    This “Android is only for techies” talking point should have died by now, but people (even respectable people like yourself!) keep regurgitating it for reasons I do not understand.

    I’ve used both ios and android ics extensively lately. ICS is miles ahead as far as useability. It’s definitely NOT ios, it’s different, but after a few days of using it you’ll wonder how in the world anybody lives without ICS’ multi-tasking button, better notifications, etc. etc.

    Once you go android 4.0, you can’t go back.

    • Kevin Go says:

      I’m not ‘regurgitating’ the technicality issue of the STOCK Android platforms.

      If you’re referring to the skinned variety of Android (TouchWiz, Emotion UI, Sense, ETC) those are easy to use because OEMs have made some functions of the OS easier to access for mainstream consumers.

      I’m stressing about an individual’s lack for interest in what the stock Android platform can offer compared to others, don’t make it sound like I’m making others look dumb.

      I’m not generalizing either, I KNOW what I’m talking about. My friends and family who have migrated from iOS all said one thing: “Stock android is still too technical compared to iOS”.

      I hope I’ve explained myself well enough.

  24. Chaa says:

    HTC Sensation XL has a single core scorpion 1.5GHz CPU, not a dual core 1.5Ghz CPU. :-)

  25. Ezy says:

    I like it when the author/co-author replied to the comments from the readers. It provides more clarity and promotes healthy discussions. Looking forward to more posts like this. More Top 10’s of anything (tablets, camera, etc.) :)

  26. Mica says:

    Shocked how BlackBerry could still be on the list. But then again the list i was thinking of was “the best” but… The title was 10 smartphones on a 20k budget. hahaha now it makes more sense :)

  27. John Angelo Miranda says:

    where can i buy samsung galaxy s2 worth 18900??? pls email me… [email protected]

  28. mozartuser says:

    hey… do you guys know how to update htc mozart’s windows 7 to 7.5???

  29. sawyer says:

    you haven’t mentioned anything about Sony Ericson..

  30. MoE says:

    Where’s the Nexus 5 ?

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