UPDATED: SoyaCincau’s best smartphones under RM1,200 (2nd half, 2018)

Posted:  July 6, 2018   By:    28 comments   


What a year it has been so far since the last time we published our best smartphones under RM1,200 (2018 edition). We changed governments in a historic election nobody saw coming, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is now zero-rated and, of course, a whole bunch of brand new affordable smartphones launched.

We thought about a simple update to our original guide, but because so much has changed, we figured it would be a disservice for you to just add the couple of new phones to the end of that one. Instead, we decided that it would be better if we gave the whole guide a proper face-lift, featuring the new updated GST-less budget smartphones, several brand new handsets and a revised Editor’s Choice section.

Here’s our ultimate budget smartphone guide Part 2.

Before we get started, there are a few things you should know about this updated guide. To better reflect the current landscape of budget handsets, we’ve added a whole bunch of brand new devices that have been launched in the past few months. These include the ASUS’ killer budget ZenFone Max Pro M1, the rock-solid Nokia 6.1 and a couple of brand new selfie experts.

But, we also removed several handsets that were previously in the list, devices that we found were too old or too difficult to find reliable vendors online. So, if nothing here interests you, you can still check out our previous list for more options.

The list also contains updated prices for each smartphone now that GST is zero-rated. That said, since several of these devices aren’t brand new anymore, there is a much higher chance that you can pick them up for a price that’s much lower than the RRP we list thanks to discounts and promotions.

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In any case, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of it all. For those who are new to our smartphone guides, you will find an entry for each smartphone in the following pages. Each entry will contain a brief rundown on some of the specs and some other features we think you should know about that particular smartphone.

In each entry, we will also provide links to where you can buy these phones online. However, keep in mind that we will not be responsible for any purchases you make, so do so at your own discretion. We would generally advise users to make purchases from reputable sellers or official stores. We also advise users to purchase devices with official Malaysian warranties to avoid any complications should problems arise with that particular device. Sure, there may be instances where imported sets are more affordable, but the risks associated with it are also higher.

Then, on the second last page, you’ll find our massive comparison table so you can see how each phone stacks up against each other at a glance. Finally, on the last page we will have an “Editor’s Choice” list where we pick our top three best handsets for the money.

Ready? Let’s get things started.

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Android, Asus, Guides, honor, HTC, huawei, Mobile Devices, Mobile OS, Motorola, Neffos, Nokia, Opinion, Oppo, Samsung, Sony, vivo, Wiko, Xiaomi
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28 Comments for UPDATED: SoyaCincau’s best smartphones under RM1,200 (2nd half, 2018)


I just helped my father bought him a Xiaomi Mi Note 3 128GB at RM1245 from Shopee yesterday, just slightly over the rm1.2k budget, I think this is a very good phone too.


    oh ya, the 64gb definite under rm1.2k


      Mi Malaysia never sell Note 3. You got China set.


Would be great if you could increase the price by rm100 and include the new Asus 5 in the list


Can’t even find any seller for N6.1 need to import from gray market.

    Rory Lee

    If you check out the link I included, there are already retailers selling them with official Nokia Malaysia warranty. It just launched a few days ago, so give it a few days, there should be more soon! Hope this helps.


Hey soyacincau can u guys include quick charge – YES/NO in the list?


    +1, Im too need this for better comparison. Appreciate it if you could include the usb type for the phone model


    Yah Quick Charge is important. After using phones with fast-charge, cannot go back to the normal ones. As far as I know, these are the phones that support fast-charging within RM1.2K:

    1) Nokia 6.1
    2) Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1
    3) Moto G5s Plus
    4) Neffos N1
    5) Meizu M6s
    6) Xiaomi Redmi Note 5

    Other phones not in this list but supports fast charging:
    1) Meizu M6 Note
    2) Nubia Z17 Mini
    3) Nubia Z17 Mini S
    4) Nubia Z17 Lite
    5) Nubia M2
    6) Oppo R9s
    7) Vivo V5 Plus
    8) Meizu Pro 7


Soya Cincau, you were saying the Zenfone Max Pro M1 having the worst camera compared to the other 2 is based on the 3GB and not the 4GB/6GB version right? Because the camera in the higher spec is different. The higher spec which is still below RM1.2k with better camera can potentially still be better than the Mi A1 at least. Doubt that it could beat the Redmi Note 5 still though.

    Rory Lee

    Hey! It's more to do with the camera software and the app than pure image quality. You can check out the page dedicated to the ZenFone Max Pro M1 (page 22) in this guide for more details. Cheers!


Suggest to include the type of charging cable for future accessories purchase

Safety First

and why Xiaomi note 5 was “accused of” dance dangerous close to rm1000? the limit is rm1200 isn’t it for this article?

even if the price is rm1199, it would still qualify for this article and you would still give it the crown… No?
if you can’t write then this career is not for you.


    Did the author say the Redmi Note 5 almost fail to enter the list? If you fail to comprehend simple English you should go back to school. Bring your mom along so that she can instil some manners in you.


always come out with best budget phone quarterly but dint see a single post of worldwide smartphone sales, probably scare will hur tpoordrid feeling when they know iphone 8 and x being top 3 sales LEL


    If you so rich why you bother commenting here.


      cause saw yall at bottom still living in delusional make me feel bad, need to burst yall bubble constantly LEL

      Safety First

      poor people only can comment on budget handphone section kah?


How about Honor 8 Pro? It is selling below RM1,200 now. RM1,150+- which I saw in Shopee..

idk man

Please include "stock Android" for comparison.


Can you do a list about flagship device from 2016-2017 since the price drop significantly. For example htc u ultra or samsung s7 edge (sd 821) or honor 8(kirin 950) honor 9( kirin 960) p10,mate 9 and so on


    Agreed. These flagship shall be below RM1,200 and it gives us a choice as well. These flagship shall be won't lose to latest budget phone.


24 phones and RM1,200 budget do not make sense IMO, coz for many ppl RM1k is the max they'll spend for a phone. Should have been 3 separate articles:
1) Top 5 Best Smartphones under RM500
2) Top 10 Best Smartphones between RM500 – 1,000
3) Top 10 Best Smartphones between RM1,000 – 1,500

Anyways, here are my thoughts based on actual experience of using them as my primary phones:

These phones should have been omitted:
1) Huawei Nova 2 Lite (Processor is too low grade and sips battery like crazy. For the same price, Honor 9 lite is a better choice with the exact same software experience)
2) Wiko View 2 Pro (Priced at 1K but screen is only HD+, Poor battery life, Crappy camera, Software bugs. But its does come with Android Oreo. For extra RM200-300, can buy Vivo V9, Oppo F7 and Huawei Nova 3e)
3) Samsung Galaxy J6 (It lacks a lot of basic sensors such as compass, auto-brightness and gyroscope. Google Maps and Waze won't work)
4) Samsung Galaxy A6 (It's basically a Samsung Galaxy J6 wrapped in metal. That's it! Better get Samsung S7 instead)
5) Moto G5s Plus (Stock Android but till now no android Oreo update, No Compass Sensor and so Waze and Google Maps did not work. Bluetooth sips battery like crazy)
6) HTC Desire 12 (Very low grade processor, Poor Battery Life, Sub-par camera)
7) Xperia L2 (Honestly no idea why this phone exists, if you're a sony fan, better buy XA2 or last year's XZ)

These phones should have been included though:
1) Meizu M6 note (My current primary phone – great software, great camera, good battery. Only drawback is the old-school bulky design)
2) Oppo R9s (Great Camera Phone for RM800. But still running Android 6.0. Probably the reason why it's excluded in this article)
3) Vivo V7 Plus (Can get for RM900+ at Shopee; Great phone for its price but screen is only HD+)
4) Xiaomi Mi Max 2 (Still a great niche choice for those who wants extra large screen. Price has really came down)
5) Oppo A83 (Comparable spec to Vivo Y81 but cheaper)
6) Nubia Z17 Mini (Compact phone with Upper Midrange specs for RM699)
7) Nubia Z17 Lite / Mini S (Almost Similar phones, only design is different. Used to be RM1.6K – RM2K, now only RM900+. A near-flagship)

On the other hand, for less than RM500, the following will be my pick:
1) Xiaomi Redmi 6 32GB
2) Nubia M2 lite 64GB
3) Meizu MX6 32GB
4) Meizu M6 32GB
5) Xiaomi Redmi Note 5A 32GB


    Forgot to add Meizu Pro 7 to the list. A real head-turner.


    Why so little Huawei / Honor phone? Haha..

    If below RM1,500, Honor 10, P20 Lite (Nova 3e), P10, P9 Plus, Honor 8 Pro (Below RM1,200) is included in the list.

    I'm a Huawei fans after using the Honor View 10 & Nova 2i. 🙂


can someone explain why 802.11ac WiFi is more preferred than just 802.11 ,what the benefit of it ,i mean the AC or not AC?

    Rory Lee

    These are basically different standards of WiFi. 802.11ac is dual-band, giving you access to both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz connections. On the other hand, 802.11n will only give you 2.4GHz. Theoretically, 5GHz is faster than 2.4GHz, however 2.4GHz has a wider coverage area.

    But, being able to connect to a 5GHz WiFi signal also depends on whether you have a dual-band router or not. Otherwise, you're only going to have a 2.4GHz connection. So, if you frequently have access to dual-band routers, then you will benefit from phones with 802.11ac WiFi. Otherwise, 802.11 b/g/n will be fine.

    Hope this helps!


      ohh… before this, I keep wondering why my redmi 5a/redmi 4x can’t find the wifi hotspot(not appear in the list) by redmi note 5 that setup with 5ghz AP band.now I realised why that happen, thanks for explanation.