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SoyaCincau’s Top 5 Best Budget Smartphones Under RM1,000 (2020)

We’re back! Yes, it has been awhile, and we know a lot of you have been asking for this, but the wait is over. These are SoyaCincau’s top five best smartphones under RM1,000. If you’re looking to pick up a new device for this holiday season, read this first.

Before we get started, let’s get some housekeeping out of the way. For starters, we’re focusing on the newer devices (stuff that has been launched in the past year) because affordable phones don’t get as much support as flagships. So, it’s more important to buy a newer device because the odds of you getting longer software support is better.

Also, the prices of the phone listed here are of their recommended retail price. But, these phones tend to fluctuate in price quite a lot—translation: they often go on sale for less—so you may be able to cop them at way more affordable prices. Finally, if you want a general overview of how each phone stacks up to each other head-to-head, check out the final section where we’ll have a table embedded with all the relevant specs for you to compare.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to it. Here are our five best smartphones for under RM1,000, in no particular order.

Poco X3 NFC

The Poco X3 NFC is one of the best value packed smartphones from Poco. You get a 6.67” FHD+ display with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate. This makes the device feel extra fast and snappy even if you’re just swiping around the home screen. We also like the fact that it comes with stereo speakers which is always a treat at this price point.

Under the hood, the X3 NFC packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G processor that’s paired with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. While this chip won’t deliver flagship level performance it’s one of the most capable chips at this price point.

The X3 NFC features reasonable quad camera setup too. You get a 64MP Sony IMX682 f/1.9 main camera, a 13MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, a 2MP f/2.4 macro camera and 2MP depth camera. While the depth and macro are more niche in their function, it’s nice to see a dedicated ultra-wide camera. There’s also a 20MP selfie shooter upfront.

In terms of battery life, the X3 NFC has a large 5,160mAh battery which does translate to all-day battery life. Even if you were to run the phone dry, the X3 NFC offers 33W fast charging that is said to bring the phone back up to 62% charge in just 30 minutes.

For those who are willing to spend a little more, the Poco X3 NFC also comes in a higher-spec variant that features 128GB of storage. But, that’s priced at RM1,099.

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Poco X3 NFC – 6GB RAM, 64GB storage – RM899
Poco X3 NFC – 6GB RAM, 128GB storage – RM1,099

Where to buy:
Online: Lazada, Shopee
Store: Xiaomi authorised retailers

Samsung Galaxy M21

Samsung’s latest M-series smartphone, the Galaxy M21 offers plenty of bang for your buck. Chief among those features is a 6.4” Full HD+ Super AMOLED display that is uncommon at this price point. AMOLED screens tend to offer vivid colours with great contrast and deep blacks that LCD panels simply can’t match. On top of that, a Full HD+ screen means it’s pretty crisp too.

Take a peek underneath the Galaxy M21 and you will find that it runs on a Samsung Exynos 9611 chip mated with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. If that isn’t enough room for you to store all your photos and videos, you have the option to expand it up to 512GB with a microSD.

Besides that, the Galaxy M21 has a triple camera array on the back that consists of a 48MP f/2.0 main camera together with an 8MP f/2.2 ultrawide camera and a 5MP f/2.2 depth camera. Samsung decided to leave out the macro camera, a staple feature in this price range, but honestly you are not missing out on much. Though, it would have been preferred over a depth sensor whose usefulness has yet to be ascertained. Flip the phone around and you’ll find the 20MP selfie camera. 

It is worth mentioning that the Galaxy M21 boasts a massive 6,000mAh battery that is said to last for two days before it needs a recharge. It also comes with 15W fast charging, admittedly not the fastest on the list but it is nice to have.

That being said, the phone features a mono speaker, but there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack for you to hook up your wired cans.

Samsung Galaxy M21 – 4GB RAM, 64GB storage – RM899

Where to buy:
Online: Lazada, Shopee
Store: Samsung Online Store

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9s

Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 9s is another great phone to pick up for the price. It boasts a 6.67” IPS LCD panel with a FHD+ resolution and a 91% screen-to-body ratio. On top of that, both the front and back of the phone is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

When it comes to performance, the Redmi Note 9s uses a Snapdragon 720G processor paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Apart from that, the phone has a triple card tray so you can put in two SIMs and a microSD card, so you don’t have to sacrifice a SIM tray should you wish to expand the available storage.

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The massive camera bump at the back of the phone houses the phone’s quad camera setup. For the main camera you get a 48MP f/1.8 shooter that uses the Samsung  ISOCELL Bright GM2 sensor that utilises 4-in-1 pixel binning (merging 4 adjacent pixels into one) for better low-light performance. This basically increases the light sensitivity of the sensor and enables the camera to take better photos in low light.

The main sensor is complemented by an 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, a 5MP macro camera and 2MP depth sensor. There is also a 16MP selfie camera that sits within a tiny punch-hole on the top centre of the screen.

There is a big 5,020mAh battery on the inside that supports 18W fast-charging. Interestingly, however, it comes with a 22.5W fast charging brick in the box.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9s – 4GB RAM, 64GB storage – RM799

Where to buy:
Online: Lazada, Shopee
Store: Xiaomi Authorised retailers

Realme 6

The Realme 6 stands out from the crowd thanks to its 6.5” FHD+ screen with its 90Hz refresh rate. The higher refresh rate is a welcome addition that makes the interface feel smoother and more responsive compared to a standard 60Hz display.

Performance-wise, the Realme 6 is powered by a Mediatek Helio G90T that is complemented by 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. Like the other phones in this list, the phone benefits from a microSD card slot that supports cards up to 256GB in size. It should be noted that the earlier mentioned processor is billed as a gaming focused processor that is said to give it an edge when running mobile games.

You get a quad camera setup on the rear consisting of a high resolution 64MP f/1.8 main wide angle camera along with an 8MP f/2.3 ultra-wide camera and a 2MP f/2.4 macro camera. There’s also gets a 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor. Last but not least there is a front-facing 16MP f/2.0 selfie camera.

The Realme 6 comes with a 4,300mAh battery, though it is the smallest battery on the list, it should still power you through a day with moderate usage. In addition, it supports 30W VOOC fast charging that should get the phone fully charged within an hour.

Realme 6 – 4GB RAM, 128GB storage – RM999

Where to buy:
Online: Lazada, Shopee
Store: Authorised Realme retailers

Vivo Y50

The Y50 is a budget friendly smartphone from Vivo that features a 6.53” FHD+ display. For performance, the Y50 taps on a Snapdragon 665 processor paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. That is a sizable amount of storage but if you want more you can always add up to 256GB more with a microSD card.

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The Y50 features a standard quad camera setup that comprises a 13MP f/2.2 main camera, an 8MP f/2.2 acts as the ultrawide camera along with 2MP f/2.4 macro camera and a 2MP f/2.4 depth camera. It has a 16MP front facing camera for snapping selfies. It is worth noting that the Y50’s video capture isn’t as great compared to other phones on the list as it maxes out at Full HD whereas the others can record up to 4K @ 30fps.

In terms of battery, you get a large 5,000mAh battery that should be sufficient for all day usage. Unfortunately, the Y50 is also the only phone on the list that doesn’t come with any fast charging capability. So, if you need a phone that can quickly recharge, you might want to opt for one of the other phones on our list.

Vivo Y50 – 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, – RM999

Where to buy:
Online: Lazada, Shopee
Store: Authorised Vivo retailers

Conclusion

Now that you’ve seen each entry, here’s a comprehensive table with all the key specs listed down for easy comparison. You can click on the image to view its full resolution.

If you still can’t make up your mind, here’s our editor’s choice: The Poco X3 NFC is pretty much the best smartphone you can get for about RM1,000. The combination of specs, price, and screen is killer. As a whole package, this is pretty much the only phone you should be looking at unless you really hate MIUI with the Poco launcher or some of the other minor issues Rory had with it.

However, if you’re more into watching content, you might prefer the vibrant Super AMOLED display from the Samsung Galaxy M21. It’s large—6.4 inches— and pushes a crisp Full HD+ resolution of 2340×1080 pixels. But, even as a content consumption device, do note that it doesn’t have stereo speakers so you might want to hook up a separate pair for the best experience. The phone also comes with a massive 6,000 mAh battery with support for 15W fast-charging.

So, there you have it. We hope that this buyer’s guide has helped you narrowed down your search for the best phone under this price range. Leave a comment below with your thoughts on which phone you think is the best budget smartphone of 2020.