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Top five smartphones that offer bang for your buck

Published May 6, 2022

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Johannesburg - With the likes of high-end smartphones in various shapes and sizes (*cough* foldables), new mobile technologies are steadily driving down the costs of owning a decent smartphone.

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More affordable smartphone prices today pose the questions: Which smartphone is the right one for you and how much will you have to fork out?

IOL Wealth is here to help you make a more informed decision on your next smartphone purchase.

If you don’t have much need for the bells and whistles that come with owning a premium or even ultra-premium smartphone, the likes of which iPhones, foldable devices and mini-tablets have to offer, consider yourself spoilt for choice.

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Today, scores of smartphones that address the needs of almost every typical user inhabit the shelves of retailers across the country. The best part of is that the technology featured in some of the devices was found in only the very pricey ones launched just months ago.

Despite this, deciding which device to purchase can be challenging without knowing what to expect from the smartphone you buy.

If you’re in the market for an affordable device that gets the job done, consider our selection, based on the criteria below, offering a 1 to 5 rating for each element.

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Factors normally considered among those looking for a purchase that won’t hurt the wallet too much are based on the specifications and rated according to how they stack up against others on this list:

Camera - Smartphones in this segment offer cameras that can vary vastly in size. Despite devices that offer three- or four-module cameras with different capabilities, we’re scoring this factor based on the size of the largest lens in megapixels, which determines the size and information an image captured on the device contains.

Display Quality - Bigger is always better in terms of display, especially for streaming content. While many devices offer displays with different features, we’re rating this element based purely on size.

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Battery Life - All the smartphones making this list feature battery sizes of 4 000mAh and above. A smartphone with a battery of this capacity can generally last all day, barring external factors like temperature and usage.

Ease of Use - Many of today’s Android smartphones bear a layering of manufacturer's operating system (OS). With some OS layering easier to use than others. We’re rating ease of use based on user-friendliness and responsiveness.

In terms of the price point, we’ve selected this list of our top mid-level picks among smartphones ranging from R5 000 to R9 000. The smartphones making this list can range from around R200 to R400 for 12 months, and are dependent on retailer and bundled offerings.

Look out for the most crucial elements you value from day-to-day smartphone usage.

IOL Wealth’s list of top five affordable smartphones:

Huawei nova 9 SE

As one of the kings of comeback, Huawei sidestepped the US’s trade ban and exclusion of Google Services found in the Android OS platform, with a range of powerful new premium smartphones.

The Chinese giant’s mid-level smartphone segment is no exception, with the nova 9 SE proving the premium sentiment. The nova 9 SE offers one of the most powerful cameras and displays in an affordable smartphone.

Featuring a colossal 108MP lens and massive 6.78” screen, the nova 9 SE will probably offer all-day power with a 4 000mAh battery. While towering over its competition on the spec sheet, the nova 9 SE’s EMUI OS isn’t difficult to navigate.

Camera - 5

Display Quality - 5

Battery Life - 4

Ease of Use - 4

Price - R7 999

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Building on the solid foundations of a strong brand, with years of experience in the smartphone industry, Samsung undoubtedly won a chunk of love from smartphone users in the country. Fans of the brand won’t be disappointed by the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G. While its camera won’t be the biggest of the batch, its 64MP lens is set to perform well alongside its 6.5” display and segment leading, gigantic 5 500mAh battery that guarantees all-day life, even from the most demanding users.

Camera - 4

Display Quality - 4

Battery Life - 5

Ease of Use - 4

Price - R8 495

Oppo A74 5G

If you have not yet seen or heard of Oppo before, it's time to pay attention. Quietly entering the SA market with a range of entry to mid-level smartphones, Oppo has rapidly become one of the country's top-selling mobile brands.

The A74 5G smartphone is one example that commands respect for Oppo. While featuring a 5 000mAh all-day battery, 6.5” display and simplified Color OS, based on Android, the A74 5G won’t be an aspiring photographer’s first choice but its 48MP main camera captures great pictures. The manufacturer's Color OS might take getting used-to.

Camera - 3

Display Quality - 4

Battery Life - 5

Ease of Use - 3

Price - From R5 999

Vivo V21 5G

Another humble entry making this list comes in the form of the Vivo V21 5G. Although relatively subtle in contrast, when compared to the advertising visibility of its rivals, Vivo promises a decent smartphone in the form of the V21 5G.

Vivo won’t lead the pack in any of its features but makes for the perfect all-around offering the perfect balance. The V21 5G offers a 6.44" display, a 64MP camera like the A53 5G, a 4 000mAh battery sufficient for all-day power, and its Android-based Funtouch OS makes it user-friendly. The V21 5G, is however, one of the more pricey devices on this list.

Camera - 4

Display Quality - 4

Battery Life - 4

Ease of Use - 4

Price - From around R8 799

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10S

It’s okay to not be able to say ‘Xiaomi’ out loud for fear of mispronunciation, but let’s try. Without perfect articulation of the Mandarin language, the accepted pronunciation among English speakers is “Shou-Me”.

Xiaom, has a few things to ‘Shou You’... The Redmi Note 10S was once one of the Chinese manufacturer’s premium releases, but newer models and a decreasing price point allow the smartphone to join this list. Redmi Note 10S features a decent 64MP main camera, 6.43” display and large 5 000mAh battery for guaranteed all-day performance.

Camera - 4

Display Quality - 4

Battery Life - 5

Ease of Use - 4

Price - R5 199 (with free Free Mi True Wireless Earbuds Basic 2)

IOL Wealth

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