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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 S8
From HK$ 3,549.00 Design Boundary-breaking design. The Galaxy S8's rounded corner Infinity Display and symmetrical metal sides blend effortlessly for a seamless look. Infinity Display Get ready for a fully immersive experience, thanks to the Galaxy S8's ultra-thin bezel and 18.5:9 ratio display. Intelligence Intuitive intelligence. With your own personal assistant and info services through Bixby Vision, the Galaxy S8's one-stop dashboard makes it easy for you to do what you want, when you want. Security Locked-down security. The Galaxy S8s iris scanner gives great protection for your personal information without compromising convenience. Camera Stunning shots, every time. Whether you're capturing the city skyline or a special moment with friends, you'll take incredible pictures with the Galaxy S8's Dual Pixel 12MP camera with F1.7 lens and enhanced image processing. And with facial recognition for smart autofocus, the 8MP front camera guarantees a perfect selfie. Best Performance Top performer. The Galaxy S8 is packed with features that help you do more, from being IP68-rated water and dust resistant to having a powerful 10nm mobile AP for seamless multitasking. It comes with AKG-tune earphones and enhanced audio technology - your songs will never have sounded so good. And with an expandable memory there's certainly a lot of room for them - plus your movies and photos too. Phone+ A gateway to the world of Samsung. With the Galaxy S8 you can control all of your Samsung smart devices remotely with Samsung Connect. The Galaxy S8 can also be used with the Gear VR and Gear 360, so you can experience spectacular VR videos and games. As well as viewing all of your Samsung smartphone content on a large screen with Samsung DeX.
Samsung Galaxy J8
From HK$ 2,391.00 See more on a large displayGalaxy J8 is designed with a 6.0” edge-to-edge HD+ screen to allow for a truly immersive experience when viewing high resolution content. It also features an 18.5:9 aspect ratio to make texting and internet browsing far more efficient. Keep security top priorityKeep data safe without the added hassle. Galaxy J8 features fingerprint scanning and facial recognition authentication to provide seamless mobile access. What’s more, it allows users to unlock their devices or access applications in one simple step rather than having to enter lengthy passwords. Multi-level mobile securityKnox 3.1 provides defense-grade mobile protection to avoid potentially harmful privacy breaches. It also allows IT administrators to easily deploy and manage mobile devices remotely. Protection to stay aheadKeep your business safe from prying eyes. Thanks to Secure Folder, Galaxy J8 enables users to create and manage a fully encrypted space on their devices to store confidential company data which only they can access. Enhanced productivity and performanceManage multiple projects with greater performance. Featuring 3GB of Ram, Galaxy J8 helps users keep productivity running at optimal levels when working with intensive programs and complex workloads. Powered to handle moreGalaxy J8 features up to 32Gb of internal memory and 256Gb of expandable storage with microSD support to handle large-scale data analysis, documents, and all important files wherever you are. Simultaneous operationUse two frequently used applications concurrently with ease. Galaxy J8 features Multi Window mode which lets users get tasks done efficiently when need to respond to an email while referencing web page attachments. Also, Its infinity display makes viewing large streams of content much easier. Dual identities to balance lifeDual Messenger enables users to easily set up and manage two unique profiles for different purposes on a single device. Users can seamlessly switch back and forth between talking to coworkers and catching up with friends without having to log in and out. Capture accurate image detailGalaxy J8 features dual rear 16Mp (F1.7) + 5MP (F1.9) cameras so users can capture true-to-life details. What’s more, its low apertre F1.7 lenses allow for brighter and clearer photos even in low light environments. Enhanced gallery functionalityThanks to its intuitive enhanced gallery functionality Galaxy J8 makes it easier for users to find images according to related business departments. Photographers can track down individual image files by simply tapping assigned categories based on face recognition or location. Optimized content managementSmarter content management for greater efficiency. With Samsung Cloud, users can seamlessly sync, restore and backup corporate data to better manage what they need, wherever they need it via their Galaxy device.


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 4X
From HK$ 939.00 General Band Xiaomi Model Redmi 4X Style Bar Color Black,Pink,Gold Display Size 5.0 inches Type IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors Resolution 1280 x 720 pixels (~441 ppi pixel density) Multitouch Yes Network Frequency Technology: GSM/HSPA/LTE 2G:  GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz 3G: WCDMA B1/B2/B5/B8 (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, dual stand-by GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS Wi-Fi Yes,   2.4/5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n System OS Android OS, v6.0.1 (Marshmallow) Chipset Qualcomm MSM8937 Snapdragon 435, Quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad-core 1.1 GHz Cortex-A53 GPU Adreno 505 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, LED flash Features Geo-tagging, touch focus, face/smile detection, HDR, panorama Video 1080p@30fps Secondary  5 MP, f/2.2, 1080p Power Battery Capacity 4100mAh  battery Battery Type Non-removable  Li-ion battery Features USB microUSB v2.0 Bluetooth Yes,Ver  4.0, A2DP, LE Message SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Mail, IM Browser HTML5 Sensor Fingerprint, accelerometer, proximity, 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.) Body Dimensions   139.24 mm * 69.96 mm * 8.65 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 Xs Max
From HK$ 10,603.00 Welcome to the big screens.Super Retina in two sizes — including the largest display ever on an iPhone. Even faster Face ID. The smartest, most powerful chip in a smartphone. And a breakthrough dual-camera system. iPhone XS is everything you love about iPhone. Taken to the extreme. Super Retina. In big and bigger. The custom-engineered Oled displays on iPhone XS deliver the most accurate colour in the industry, as well as HDR and true blacks. And iPhone XS Max has our largest display ever on an iPhone. Exceptional materials. The most durable glass ever in a smartphone. A beautiful new gold finish, achieved with an atomic-level process. Precision-machined, surgical-grade stainless steel bands. And a new level of water and dust resistance. Advanced Face ID. Security is simple when your face is your password. You can unlock your iPhone, log in to apps and pay for things with a glance. It’s the most secure facial authentication ever in a smartphone. And now it’s even faster. Intelligent A12 Bionic. This is the smartest, most powerful chip in a smartphone, with our next-generation Neural Engine. For amazing augmented reality experiences. Incredible portraits with Depth Control. And speed and fluidity in everything you do. Breakthrough dual-camera system. The world’s most popular camera is defining a new era of photography. Where an innovative sensor works with the ISP and Neural Engine to help you create photos like never before. Smart Hdr. New secondary frames, a faster sensor and the powerful A12 Bionic chip bring more highlight and shadow detail to your photos. Larger and deeper pixels. A new sensor creates better image fidelity, greater colour accuracy and reduced noise in low‑light shots. Enhanced bokeh effect. Portrait mode photos look even more professional thanks to a sophisticated background blur. All-new Depth Control. Now you can adjust the depth of field in portraits after you shoot. And this. iPhone XS delivers Gigabit-class LTE for superfast download speeds.5 And up to 512Gb of storage, making this our highest-capacity iPhone yet. No other phone is like iPhone. Every decision that goes into iPhone makes it stand apart. From the way it’s made, to the way we build in privacy and security from the start, to the innovative ways we recycle its components.
Apple iPhone X 64GB Space Grey
From HK$ 8,095.00 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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