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Smartphones from Yesteryear that are Still Kicking Ass in 2017

04 September 2017 | Reymart Jan Sarigumba

While it’s always an awesome feeling to have the latest smartphone at hand, the burning question is: will it make a life-changing difference?

It’s 2017 and even from an avid tech user’s point of view, it already looks like we have now reached the peak of our technological innovation. Most new features that we get from the latest devices nowadays are just small incentives that aren’t really game changing as it used to be five years ago. That is why, it’s safe to say that flagship devices from a year or two ago are still relevant today, even with all the newest flagships coming out soon this year like the iPhone 8 and the Galaxy Note 8.

If you’re simply looking for a kick ass phone that won’t burn your wallet, you will never run out of options. Below is our pick for the best smartphones of yesteryear that will still give you the best value for your money.

Camera phone

As far as the camera goes, resolution (pixels) is only as good as a phone’s camera sensor. That’s why most smartphones today invest more on perfecting a better algorithm and integrating better hardware into smartphone cameras than further increasing its megapixels. That’s why even smartphones from last year and the year before that are still at par with the latest flagship devices of today when it comes to the camera.

Our pick: Galaxy S7

This phone has simultaneous 4K video and 9MP image recording, touch focus, face/smile detection, Auto HDR, and panorama on top of its phase detection focus and optical image stabilization (OIS). It can even take impressive low-light shots - a feat that majority of the phones today couldn’t pull off. Its camera sensor is so good that it even got retained in the Galaxy S8. Despite being 1 generation behind, its camera is still as relevant as it first came out.

The latest handsets from Samsung

Samsung
Galaxy S6 Edge
From HK$ 3,476.00 Exquisitely Crafted, Captivatingly BrilliantInspired by the works of glassblowers and artisan metalsmiths, the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge represents a seamless fusion of glass and metal. Make a breathtaking design statement with the world’s first dual-edge display, beautiful curves and radiant glass surfaces that reflect a wide spectrum of dazzling colours.Richer Interactions With Your edgeAdd some colour to your interactions with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge. Colour-code the five people you care most about and simply tab a contact’s colour on the edge display to call, text or email them. Thanks to innovative colour-coded notifications, you can easily see who is trying to get in touch, even when your device is upside down.Improved Aperture, Clearer PicturesBoth the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge’s front and rear cameras feature higher resolution and F1.9 aperture, allowing you to take clearer images wherever you are. Press the home button twice to go straight into camera mode ― and never miss an important moment again.Peerless PerformanceWith super-fast boot up and app launching, the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge gives you unbeatable results and improved energy efficiency. Its 64-bit architecture, Lpddr4 and advanced GPU delivers truly powerful performance, letting you take multitasking and multimedia functions to the next level.Dazzling DisplayEquipped with a 5.1” Quad HD (2560X1440) Super Amoled display, the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge provides an impeccably sharp viewing experience, and its adaptive display provides unbeatable clarity both indoors and outside. Improved brightness levels and pixel density let you take superb images wherever you are.Enhanced SecurityEnjoy unprecedented peace of mind with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge’s powerful security solutions: Knox, a fingerprint sensor.Quick and Easy Mobile PaymentShopping has never been this easy thanks to the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge’s compatible with Nfc. Seamless Contents SharingA simple touch is all it takes to pair the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge with a Samsung Smart TV via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy). Mirror movies from you’re Galaxy to a TV screen or share current TV screen from a TV to your phone. Smart ManagerThe new Smart Manager application lets you check an array of useful information on battery status, storage, Ram, security and more at a glance.Swipe the edge screen to view important notificationsSwitch on the edge screen by swiping it back and forth once while the main screen is turned off. Various important notifications, such as missed calls, time, weather and app notifications including those for WhatsApp and Facebook, will be shown for users to grasp the latest information at a glance.Exclusive apps for edgeUsers can view more information through downloading edge applications, such as content from Yahoo! News/Business/Sports, stock market trends on Aastocks and real-estate data on 28Hse.com. More edge applications can be downloaded from Samsung Galaxy Apps.

Phablet

There’s never a shortage of phablet sized smartphones today. 5-inch screen phones and above have already become a standard and it’s quite appropriate for smartphones knowing that people love to stream videos through their phones. You don’t really need to buy a Note 8 for that, there are phablets right now that could satisfy your need for that for a fraction of the price.

Our pick: Galaxy Note 5

This spot would’ve been taken easily by the Note 7 if not for its battery fiasco. However, that’s not to say that the Note 5 doesn’t come nearly as good. It’s a Galaxy Note device, whether we like it or not, it will remain relevant for a long time. Not because of its premium smartphone branding, but because of its highly intuitive features that go beyond what a typical smartphone could do. The S-Pen carries loads of features that will take on-the-go productivity to the next level of ease!

Note series has become a staple of phablets because it invented one of the very first phablets.

Large battery capacity

There are but a few phones that come equipped with a sufficient battery to help it go all day with just a single charge. Surprisingly, Xiaomi managed to create an extremely compact device that could carry a battery size that we’d only get to enjoy in a tablet-sized device.

Our pick: Xiaomi Red Mi 4X

This phone is hands down one of the most juiced up smartphones that you’ll see to date, for its size. It carries a 5-inch screen but its body is no bigger than an iPhone 6. You can easily grip it with just one hand, but still enjoy a big enough screen for hours of video streaming (courtesy of its supersized 4000 mAh battery).

The latest smartphones from Xiaomi

Xiaomi
Redmi Note 5A
From HK$ 1,019.00   General Band Xiaomi Model Redmi Note 5A Style Bar Color Gray,Gold,Pink Display Size 5.5 inches (~70.1% screen-to-body ratio) Type LTPS IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors Multitouch Yes Resolution 1280 x 720 pixels (~403 ppi pixel density) Network Frequency Technology: GSM  / HSPA / LTE 2G:  GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz 3G:  WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100MHz 4G:  FDD-LTE: Bands B1/B3/B5/B7/B8   TD-LTE: Bands 38/39/40/41 Speed:  HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE Cat6 300/50 Mbps Sim Type Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, Dual stand-by) GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS Wi-Fi Yes,   2.4/5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n NFC Yes System OS MIUI 9   Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) Chipset Qualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon 425  Octa-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53 GPU Adreno 308 Language English, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Melayu, Cestina, Deutsch, Espanol, Filipino, French, Hrvatski, Italiano, Latviesu, Lietuviu, Magyar, Nederlands, Norsk, Polish, Portuguese, Romana, Slovencina, Suomi, Svenska, Vietnamese, Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, Bengali, Thai, Korean, Similified/Traditional Chinese Storage RAM 2GB  Storage 16GB   Camera Primary Camera 13 MP, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash Features 1.25 µm/ 1.0 µm pixel size, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama Video 2160p@30fps, 720p@120fps Secondary  5 MP, 1080p Power Battery Capacity 3080mAh  battery Battery Type Non-removable  Li-ion battery Fast battery charging Fast battery charging Features USB 2.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector Bluetooth Yes,Ver  4.0, A2DP, LE Message SMS/MMS Input Handwrite/Keypad Sensor Fingerprint, Distance sensor, Light sensor, G-sensor, E-compass Format Supported MP3/WAV/AMR/AAC; Video:3GP,MPEG4,AVI,RMVB; Picture: JPEG/BMP/GIF; eBook: TXT, PDF, MS Office Word, PPT, Excel. ( Some formats may require additional apps support.) Other Features 4G,   3G,   GPS,   FM,   Bluetooth,   Ebook,   Email,   Messaging,   wallpapers, calendar,   calculator,   clock,   camera,   tethering   &   portable   hotspot,   Play   Store,   etc Body Dimensions   153 mm  x 76.2 mm  x  7.55 mm Weight  150g In the box: 1×Phone 1×Battery Charger 1× USB cable 1×User Manual

Sleek all-in-one device

There are phones that are made to take on loads of heavy tasks, while there are also phones that are made to be just phones, and they’re damn good at it!

Our pick: iPhone 6 and 6s

It’s been a subject of debate, whether or not iPhones are better than Androids. While the answer will greatly depend on your priorities (what matters most to you in a phone), no one can deny the fact that the iPhone’s UI is what keeps its fans coming back for more. Even Android manufacturers emulate Apple’s iOS interface but still couldn’t come close. It’s plain, simple, and pleasing to the eyes. Everything that you’ll ever need is right where you can see it.

If you’re budget conscious and do not mind a little compromise on the specs sheet, you can go for the iPhone 6. If you can spare a little bit more to enjoy a snappier processor, you can go for the iPhone 6s. Either way, these phones are still winners in today’s smartphone scene despite the iPhone 8 scheduled for release soon.

The latest devices from Apple

Apple
iPhone X
From HK$ 8,469.00 Design and DisplayHow do you create a deeply intelligent device where the enclosure and display are a single, uninterrupted element? That’s the goal we first set for ourselves with the original iPhone. With iPhone X, we’ve achieved it. The purest expression of iPhone.To create a continuous surface, with nothing to get in the way of your experience, we replaced the Home button with new yet familiar ways to navigate. So much technology. In so little space.The TrueDepth camera system allows you to take amazing photos and enables Face ID. It’s housed in a tiny space at the top of the display, yet within this miniaturised module are some of the most advanced technologies we’ve ever developed. Introducing Super Retina. Beauty through engineering.The Oled panel in the Super Retina display isn’t just any Oled. It’s custom-built to our exacting standards, allowing for an HDR display with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio; high resolution and brightness; wide colour support; and the best colour accuracy in the industry. Brilliance to the edges.Using innovative folding and circuit-stacking technology, the Oled panel follows the curves of the device into the furthest reaches of the corners. Then it uses a process called subpixel anti-aliasing to tune individual pixels for smooth, distortion-free edges. True Tone.For a more comfortable viewing experience.True Tone technology uses an advanced six-channel ambient light sensor to subtly adjust the onscreen white balance to match the colour temperature of the light around you. So images on the display look as natural as on a printed page, reducing eyestrain. HDR.Now playing for the first time on iPhone.iPhone X is a true High Dynamic Range (Hdr) display. You can watch movies and shows in Dolby Vision and Hdr10. Your HDR photos will look even more amazing. And you’ll be able to watch HDR titles from iTunes, Netflix and more. The most durable glass ever in a smartphone.The front and back are all glass — the most durable we’ve ever made, with a strengthening layer that’s 50 per cent deeper. A seven-layer ink process allows for precise hues and opacity, and a reflective optical layer enhances the colours. And an oleophobic coating lets you easily wipe off smudges and fingerprints. Wireless charging for a wireless world.We’ve always intended iPhone to be a truly wireless device, free from charging cables and headphone cords. With a glass back and an embedded wireless charging system, iPhone X is designed for a wireless future. Surgical‑grade stainless steel.The stainless steel band that wraps around and reinforces iPhone X is a special Apple-designed alloy that’s both durable and more pure, and it polishes beautifully. For the space grey finish, we use a process called physical vapour deposition to precisely match the colour of the stainless steel band to that of the glass. Resists water, splashes and dust.iPhone X is precision-engineered at the microscopic level to protect against water, splashes and dust. Face IDWhat could be more natural than a touch? A look. That was the insight behind Face ID, a powerful and secure authentication system that’s even more convenient than Touch ID. It makes unlocking and paying fast, easy and intuitive. The incredible technology behind incredible simplicity.The TrueDepth camera system is composed of multiple innovative technologies. Working together in real time, they use a detailed depth map of your face to recognise you in an instant. Your face is your secure password.With Face ID, iPhone X only unlocks when you’re looking at it. It’s also designed to protect against tricking by photos or masks. Your Face ID information is encrypted and protected by the Secure Enclave. And it’s private — your data doesn’t leave your device and is never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else. Once it knows you, it knows you.Face ID uses advanced machine learning to recognise changes in your appearance. Wear a hat. Grow a beard. Put on glasses. You can even use Face ID with many types of sunglasses. So even if your friends don’t recognise you, Face ID will. So smart it only works when you want it to.For additional security, Face ID is attention-aware, meaning it only unlocks your iPhone X when you look towards the device with your eyes open. That means Face ID can also reveal notifications and messages, keep the screen lit when you’re reading
Apple
iPhone 7 Plus 256GB Jet Black
From HK$ 8,098.00 iPhone 7 Plus dramatically improves the most important aspects of the iPhone experience. It introduces advanced new camera systems. The best performance and battery life ever in an iPhone. Immersive stereo speakers. The brightest, most colourful iPhone display. Splash and water resistance.1 And it looks every bit as powerful as it is. This is iPhone 7 Plus. DesigniPhone 7 Plus reaches a new level of innovation and precision. The jet black finish is like nothing we’ve ever made. The enclosure is splash- and water-resistant.1 The Home button is completely re-engineered. And with a new unibody design that’s seamless to the touch, iPhone 7 Plus feels as amazing as it looks. An entirely new camera enters the picture.iPhone is the most popular camera in the world. Now we’ve re-engineered that beloved camera, adding optical image stabilisation, an ƒ/1.8 aperture and a six-element lens to make it even better for shooting photos and videos in low light. And with advanced new features like wide colour capture, your photos and Live Photos will look even more vibrant. Retina HD DisplayThe brightest, most colourful iPhone display yet.Almost everything you experience with your iPhone comes to life on its display. It’s where you look at the photos, messages, news and countless other things that make up your day. The iPhone 7 Plus display uses the same colour space as the digital cinema industry, so what you see will be noticeably more brilliant and vibrant. Because we all deserve a bit more brightness in our day. More colours. More true to life.With a new, wide colour gamut, the Retina HD display is able to deliver cinema-standard colours — and the best colour management in the smartphone industry. More shades of the colour spectrum can be used to create an image, meaning that what you see on the screen is a truer representation of the world. So whether you’re checking out photos of that perfect dress or the Live Photos you took on holiday, the colours will be so accurate it will look like you’re there. A10 Fusion ChipThe most powerful chip ever in a smartphone.iPhone 7 Plus is supercharged by the most powerful chip ever in a smartphone. It’s not just faster than any previous iPhone — it’s also more efficient. That’s because the A10 Fusion chip uses an all-new architecture that enables faster processing when you need it, and the ability to use even less power when you don’t. And with the longest battery life ever in an iPhone, you can work at twice the speed of iPhone 6 and still enjoy more time between charges. AudioiPhone. Now in stereo.For the first time, iPhone comes with stereo speakers, delivering twice the audio output of iPhone 6s and increased dynamic range. So whether you’re listening to music, watching videos or making speakerphone calls, iPhone 7 Plus lets you crank it up. Way, way up. Wi-Fi and Mobile DataFaster 4G LTE with the best worldwide roaming.iPhone 7 Plus features 4G LTE Advanced, with speeds up to 450 Mbps for data downloads — over 50 per cent faster than iPhone 6s and three times faster than iPhone 6.6 And thanks to even more LTE bands, you’ll have the best worldwide roaming available in a smartphone. Happy travels. The world’s most advanced mobile operating system. iOS brings iPhone and iPad to life in incredibly personal and powerful ways. The interface is beautiful and easy to use. Intelligent suggestions appear exactly when you need them. And advanced technologies protect your privacy and security. Once you’ve experienced iOS, you’ll understand why so many people love using iPhone and iPad. Tap. Swipe. Scroll.See, you already know how to use it. From the moment you pick up your iOS device, you’re up and running. Tap your favourite app and get straight to work — or play. Swipe from the right side of the Lock screen to quickly pull up your camera. Scroll through thousands of photos in seconds. Everything about iOS is designed to look beautiful and work beautifully. So smooth and responsive you won’t even notice it. And that’s the point.Because iOS is engineered specifically for iPhone and iPad, everything looks and feels incredibly fluid. iOS uses a framework called Metal to maximise graphics performance. Whether you’re surfing the web, moving from app to app or playing the most complex 3D video game, the graphics and responsiveness are amazingly smooth.
Apple
iPhone X 64GB Space Grey
From HK$ 8,469.00 Design and DisplayHow do you create a deeply intelligent device where the enclosure and display are a single, uninterrupted element? That’s the goal we first set for ourselves with the original iPhone. With iPhone X, we’ve achieved it. The purest expression of iPhone.To create a continuous surface, with nothing to get in the way of your experience, we replaced the Home button with new yet familiar ways to navigate. So much technology. In so little space.The TrueDepth camera system allows you to take amazing photos and enables Face ID. It’s housed in a tiny space at the top of the display, yet within this miniaturised module are some of the most advanced technologies we’ve ever developed. Introducing Super Retina. Beauty through engineering.The Oled panel in the Super Retina display isn’t just any Oled. It’s custom-built to our exacting standards, allowing for an HDR display with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio; high resolution and brightness; wide colour support; and the best colour accuracy in the industry. Brilliance to the edges.Using innovative folding and circuit-stacking technology, the Oled panel follows the curves of the device into the furthest reaches of the corners. Then it uses a process called subpixel anti-aliasing to tune individual pixels for smooth, distortion-free edges. True Tone.For a more comfortable viewing experience.True Tone technology uses an advanced six-channel ambient light sensor to subtly adjust the onscreen white balance to match the colour temperature of the light around you. So images on the display look as natural as on a printed page, reducing eyestrain. HDR.Now playing for the first time on iPhone.iPhone X is a true High Dynamic Range (Hdr) display. You can watch movies and shows in Dolby Vision and Hdr10. Your HDR photos will look even more amazing. And you’ll be able to watch HDR titles from iTunes, Netflix and more. The most durable glass ever in a smartphone.The front and back are all glass — the most durable we’ve ever made, with a strengthening layer that’s 50 per cent deeper. A seven-layer ink process allows for precise hues and opacity, and a reflective optical layer enhances the colours. And an oleophobic coating lets you easily wipe off smudges and fingerprints. Wireless charging for a wireless world.We’ve always intended iPhone to be a truly wireless device, free from charging cables and headphone cords. With a glass back and an embedded wireless charging system, iPhone X is designed for a wireless future. Surgical‑grade stainless steel.The stainless steel band that wraps around and reinforces iPhone X is a special Apple-designed alloy that’s both durable and more pure, and it polishes beautifully. For the space grey finish, we use a process called physical vapour deposition to precisely match the colour of the stainless steel band to that of the glass. Resists water, splashes and dust.iPhone X is precision-engineered at the microscopic level to protect against water, splashes and dust. Face IDWhat could be more natural than a touch? A look. That was the insight behind Face ID, a powerful and secure authentication system that’s even more convenient than Touch ID. It makes unlocking and paying fast, easy and intuitive. The incredible technology behind incredible simplicity.The TrueDepth camera system is composed of multiple innovative technologies. Working together in real time, they use a detailed depth map of your face to recognise you in an instant. Your face is your secure password.With Face ID, iPhone X only unlocks when you’re looking at it. It’s also designed to protect against tricking by photos or masks. Your Face ID information is encrypted and protected by the Secure Enclave. And it’s private — your data doesn’t leave your device and is never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else. Once it knows you, it knows you.Face ID uses advanced machine learning to recognise changes in your appearance. Wear a hat. Grow a beard. Put on glasses. You can even use Face ID with many types of sunglasses. So even if your friends don’t recognise you, Face ID will. So smart it only works when you want it to.For additional security, Face ID is attention-aware, meaning it only unlocks your iPhone X when you look towards the device with your eyes open. That means Face ID can also reveal notifications and messages, keep the screen lit when you’re reading

Take your pick! You don’t need to shell out a fortune just to afford a premium tier smartphone experience. For just a fraction of a price, these smartphones will give you a flagship-level smartphone experience.

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