Over the years smartphone prices, especially with flagships, keeps increasing. The base model iPhone 5s launched at $649 and the base iPhone 8 at $699. Then things went wild with the iPhone X. The Samsung Galaxy S5 launched at $649, the S7 at $669, and then the S8 at $749. It is something we have gotten quite used to. Even the OnePlus whose first phone cost $299 now sells the 6T at $549.
But that doesn’t mean the price increments have been justified. It also doesn’t mean this has been the trend in the smartphone industry in general. Because, over the same years, budget phones have had a really good time. And here we are talking about real budget devices – phones that cost between $99 to $300. We’ve seen well designed smartphones with beautiful displays, good cameras, and amazing battery life within this segment. It is the segment I’ve reviewed most, the segment that has kept smartphones vibrant, and the segment that will be having a wonderful time in 2019.
I think 2018’s Pocophone F1 from Xiaomi was the device that opened up this segment to the world. And perhaps that’s why this year things are looking really good.
So here are some great budgets devices I am looking forward to in 2019. There will be more as the year progresses.
Redmi Note 7:
I think this is already the most exciting budget phone out here. Though not yet launched in Kenya, the expected price is somewhere between Ksh. 18k and 22k. It has a 6.3 inch FHD display with Gorilla Glass protection, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor, 48MP+5MP rear cameras and a 13MP selfie shooter, plus a 4000mAh battery. Yes the back is also made of glass. I think I know which phone I will be getting when it launches here in March.
Samsung M10, M20 and M30:
Samsung has lost market share in many countries over the years because of its lack of focus on budget devices. And perhaps that’s what’s making them try out with a new series of budget devices that feature notches. I think this is the first time in years to be excited for a low budget Samsung device.
The M10 has a 6.22 inch HD display, an Exynos 7870 Octa-core processor, 13MP+5MP rear cameras and a 5MP selfie camera, plus a 3400mAh battery. There’s either 2/16GB or 3/32GB versions. When launched in Kenya, the expected price will be between Ksh. 12,000 and Ksh. 13,000.
The M20 has a 6.3 inch FHD display, an Exynos 7904 Octa-core processor, 13MP+5MP rear cameras and an 8MP selfie shooter, plus a whooping 5000mAh battery. There’s either 3/32GB or 4/64GB versions. It also features USB 2.0 type-C and comes with a 15W charger for fast charging. When launched in Kenya, the expected price will be between Ksh. 17,000 and Ksh. 19,000.
The M30 is yet to be launched. And the specs are still rumors. But it seems the dominant player in Kenya, Transsion Holdings with the TECNO and Infinix brands should start thinking of new devices because if Samsung brings these two devices at those expected price points, things won’t be rosy anymore.
Huawei Y9 2019:
This is already in the Kenyan market. And is undeniably the best currently below Ksh. 25,000. From the processor, to the battery size and to the display. If you don’t want the Redmi, and prefer something different, this is the phone to get. It is on Jumia.
This is the first budget smartphone to bring the under-the-display fingerprint scanner to the budget segment. From the look of things, it could be coming to Kenya pretty soon, and would be priced between Ksh. 23,000 and Ksh. 26,000. With a 6.4 inch FHD Display, a Snapdragon 660 processor, 6GB of RAM and a 3600mAh battery, its only drawback would be the lack of USB type-C.
Infinix Zero 6:
From the look of things, Infinix is finally launching the Zero 6 in Kenya albeit with a newer expected price of between Ksh. 19,000 and Ksh. 22,000. Which will make it a sweet budget deal with a Snapdragon 660 processor, 6GB of RAM, a 6.18 inch Full HD Display, Android Pie and a 3570mAh battery. It has a glass back like the Redmi Note 7 and USB type-C with fast charging.
Another indicator that perhaps 2019 will be the year smartphone prices fall significantly is the fact that Apple started selling the iPhone X again after not so good sales with the Xs and Xs Max. Samsung will also be in two days time launching the Galaxy S10, and for the first time they’ll have something they’re calling the S10e which will be a cheaper flagship like Apple did with the iPhone Xr.
There will be many more budget phones as the year progresses, and I cannot wait to see how exciting it all gets. Especially with the Pocophone F2.