Here’s a quick look at all the phones and their specs so you can quickly compare each device with the other spec-for-spec. It is important to figure out what you want a smartphone to do before deciding what phone to buy.
For example, if you’re looking for good battery life, then you might want to consider devices with a Snapdragon 625 or Snapdragon 636 processors that also have big batteries around 4,000 mAh.
If software updates are important to you, then you should definitely consider phones with stock or close to stock operating systems like the Xiaomi Mi A1, for example. You can also look at devices that launch running Android 8.0 Oreo and above because that is the latest version of Android at the time of this guide’s publishing (April 2018).
If camera is your thing, this year is your lucky year because there are a number of devices that feature much more capable cameras than the devices that grace last year’s list. Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 and Mi A1 are two good examples.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a dual camera system automatically means a better camera experience — because it doesn’t. Check out reviews for those devices and you should be able to get a good idea on their camera performance. That said, if selfies are your thing and you want a whole bunch of beautification features, then you can’t really go wrong with OPPO’s F5, vivo’s V7 or Huawei’s Nova 2i.
Performance should also factor into your purchasing decision because a laggy phone is almost always a nasty experience, unless you’re some kind of masochist or something. If you can afford it, look for devices with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625, Snapdragon 636 or Kirin’s 659 processor and you should generally get a pretty smooth experience. Moving down that, MediaTek’s Helio P23 and Helio P25 processors are also reasonably good.
Perhaps one of the most important factors you need to consider is internal storage. The good news is that all the phones here come with at least 32GB of internal storage which I think is the bare minimum for a smartphone in 2018.
If you’re someone who uses dual-SIM and you need microSD expansion as well, you should consider devices with a dedicated microSD slot. Hybrid options mean you have to give up your secondary SIM for additional storage and vice versa.
Finally, if you’ve scanned the entire table and still can’t decide what phone you should get, check out our Editor’s Choice page where we’ll recommend some of our favourites from this list.
UPDATE: A previous version of this article originally stated that the Mi A1 does not support microSD storage expansion. This error has been rectified.
UPDATE 2: Good news! We have updated and published a brand new Best smartphones under RM1,200 guide! It includes the new devices that have launched since this guide was published as well as the new discounted prices thanks to zero-rated GST. You can check it out here.