Why Invest in a Good Smartphone?
Mobile phones are so essential in our daily lives that they are the first and last thing we check when we wake up and before going to sleep. Whether you’re a student, a housewife, an office worker, or a retired person, everyone has a mobile phone!
Even your grandparents are likely to be scrolling on Facebook with their smartphones. Needless to say, smartphones have evolved into a necessity and are in it for the long run.
Smartphones not only help you stay connected with your friends and family, but they’re also expanded their functionality to include pro photography and e-banking services. Almost everything you need or do has been specially designed to fit on your smartphone so that you can conduct them all in the palms of your hand.
This is why it is very important for you to invest in a good quality smartphone.
When you think of smartphones, models like Apple, Samsung, and Huawei will likely be the first few brands you think of. While they are great devices, there are also many more other smartphones that deliver great usability across different price points. With an extensive list of available smartphones in Malaysia, it can get a little complicated to pick the best one for you.
To make your life easier, we’ve stepped in to do all the research and work for you! We have reviewed and shortlisted some of the best smartphones available in Malaysia to help you make the right purchasing decision. Whether you want a premium, mid-range, or budget phone, you’ll certainly find a selection of solid options in our guide today.
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Best Smartphones Buying Guide: How To Pick The Right One?
Operating System: Android or iOS
The first thing to consider when picking a smartphone is which operating system you are comfortable with. A phone’s operating system is built-in software that drives and manages the functions of the phone. The Malaysian market has two main operating systems available: iOS and Android.
Which operating system is better is an endless debate for humankind since both have their own pros and cons.
iOS (Apple iPhones)
iOS (iPhones) is arguably more intuitive and easier to use as they present a very neat and clutter-free interface. Some can also argue that iOS systems provide better security and ensure seamless connectivity with other Apple devices. Apple also delivers regular software updates to ensure the system is always improving, working better, and safer for users.
The iPhones are known for their premium look and feel. But in terms of hardware, they do seem to have lower specs for the price you’re paying compared to Androids. Moreover, the iPhone build often feels fragile despite its aesthetics. Despite that, the hardware is carefully optimized and updated, resulting in constant outperformance to Android phones with similar specs.
Pros of iOS:
- Seamless execution especially when multitasking
- Simple and easy-to-understand layout
- More constant updates and support – a longer phone lifespan
- Have better software security overall
Android OS is the world’s most used operating system and is available in many branded smartphones like Samsung, Huawei, Sony, and Xiaomi. This means that you can easily switch between phones once you’ve mastered the ways of Android OS.
Android smartphones are also often cheaper than iPhone devices. They’re designed to be customizable, allowing users to tweak and rearrange the settings to match their individuality. Android’s operating system is engineered to be integrated with Google services.
A catch here is that Google only outsources primary coding for the latest Android system versions and is not able to control what phone manufacturers do with the end result of the smartphone. This may distort the perfect Android experience and overall user satisfaction.
Pros of Android:
- Easy to switch between phone brands
- Different OS user experiences across phone brands
- Budget to high-end price range
- The latest hardware and is generally value-for-money
If you already have many Apple devices, it would make sense for you to go with an iPhone but if you often rely on Google services and Microsoft Office, then an Android would be a better bet.
Next would be to decide what screen size you want. Screen size is measured from corner to corner, diagonally instead of top to bottom. If you carry your phone in your pocket often, then a smaller screen size of fewer than 5.5 inches will be a great choice. At this size, you’ll also be able to use it comfortably with one hand.
Meanwhile, if you’re an avid mobile phone gamer, then you might want to go for a phone with a bigger display to see more details. Also, the smaller the display, the harder it is for you can read texts on the phone.
Storage is another important factor to consider when it comes to purchasing a smartphone. Some smartphones have limited storage and some are not expandable. Not expandable storage meaning the phone does not accept microSD cards.
Hence, you need to get a phone with the right storage that best fits your own usage. You should go for a smartphone with at least 32 GB of storage to keep apps, music, photos, and videos. You can also future-proof a little by getting a slightly bigger capacity model to avoid having to delete important things.
iPhones do not have an option to increase built-in memory (i.e., they’re not expandable). Models with bigger memory storage will also cost significantly more.
Smartphones these days are often incorporated with the latest camera technology, so much so that some have replaced their DSLR with a smartphone. Smartphones are obviously way more portable than conventional cameras and come with tons of editing features to suit the pros.
If you’re a photography enthusiast, you should opt for smartphones with a wide aperture for better low light performance, night mode, noise reduction, and optical image stabilization. iPhone have particularly great cameras but other brands such as Huawei, Oppo, and Samsung are quickly catching up.
The battery life is an obvious no-brainer. Nobody loves a smartphone whose battery will just drain after a couple of casual uses. As a rule of thumb, you should not consider a smartphone that lasts less than 10 hours on a full charge. The average smartphone battery life lasts between 8 to 18 hours.
Another great feature to have is a quick charge so that you don’t have to wait too long for your phone to get enough juice again.
Smartphones come in a wide range of prices. From budget, mid-range to premium ones that cost RM5-6k. If budget is an issue, then you should set a maximum price you’re willing to pay and determine which features you want or need in the phone.
Smartphone prices vary according to model, spec, and features. You can expect to pay around RM400 for budget smartphones such as Xiaomi and around RM2-3k for mid-range brands.
Best Smartphones in Malaysia 2021
Now that we’ve discussed the factors to consider when buying the best smartphone, let’s dive straight into our list of the best smartphones available now
Apple iPhone 12
- Weight: 164 g
- Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4 mm
- OS: iOS 14.1, upgradable to iOS 14.4
- Screen size: 6.1 inches
- Resolution: 1170 x 2532
- CPU: Hexa-core
- Battery:2815 mAh
- Rear camera:12 MP+12 MP
- Front camera: 12 MP
The iPhone 12 has 4 different series and we believe that the base iPhone 12 offers the best bargain for the price. Just like the other more premium series, the base iPhone 12 comes equipped with a similar front camera, main wide-angle rear camera, Hexa-core processor, 5G connectivity, and wireless charging for thousands of ringgit less.
The 6.1-inch Apple iPhone 12 includes the latest A14 chip and has upgraded its camera to feature dual-lens cameras with a Super Retina XDR OLED display. The phone also has some new tricks up its sleeve with Dolby Vision HDR for better video-making. While the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a slightly larger screen, we feel that the 6.1 inches screen size is already pretty optimum to get through a lot of tasks without needing to squint your eyes.
On top of that, the iPhone 12 also has an amazing battery life performance that those who are constantly on the move will love. The iPhone 12 boasts 8 hours of average screen time and up to 14 hours for casual use. This gives you plenty of screen time for when you’re out for a jog or when you’re somewhere without a plug nearby.
The iPhone 12 also features Type-C charging port, which is a departure from the familiar Apple lightning cable that has caused some mixed reactions among iPhone users. The smartphone also features MagSafe, which is Apple’s proprietary technology for easy magnetic attachment and quicker wireless charging. MagSafe can only be attached to other MagSafe accessories so that you won’t have to worry about other metals being clunked to your iPhone 12.
That’s not all, the new iPhone 12 sports the latest A14 Bionic processor, which is also the world’s fastest phone processor available for you to breeze through a lot of things smoothly and lag-free. The combination of stellar performance, great camera, and decent battery life are what make the iPhone 12 deserving of the top spot on our list today.
- Multiple colors to choose from
- Better display compared to its predecessor
- HD 1080p FaceTime calls
- Construction is premium (e.g. glass back)
- Very light
- 4x better drop performance (Ceramic Shield)
- Improved IP68 dust/water resistance (up to 6m for 30 minutes)
- Wireless charging up to 15W
- Compatible with MagSafe charger (sold separately)
- No 3.5mm jack
- Fast charging is only up to 20W
- 64GB built-in storage (base model)
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
- Weight: 227 g
- Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm
- OS: Android 11, One UI 3
- Screen size: 6.8 inches
- Resolution: 1440 x 3200
- CPU: Octa-core
- Battery:5000 mAh
- Back camera: 108 MP+10 MP+10 MP+12 MP
- Front camera: 40 MP
If you’re a photography enthusiast, then having a formidable camera must be of utmost importance to you. In this case, you would want to give the Samsung S21 Ultra a closer look that comes equipped with a top-notch quad-camera system with an advanced 108MP sensor, an ultrawide, and two different telephoto lenses for Pro modes and 8K recording.
Clearly, it is quite difficult to find another smartphone that is equal to the Samsung Galaxy S21’s astounding camera performance. The main highlight is the incredible zoom lens with 3x and 10x optical zooms. The high-resolution 50MP front camera is also impressive enough for you to take beautiful selfies and a 4K video recording that won’t let you down.
As for the screen, you get a 6.8-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate and QHD+ resolution to watch your favorite films or YouTube videos at the highest quality. The display is clear and feels comfortable such that you don’t have to strain your eyes. Under the hood, you’ll find a high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, 16GB RAM, and up to 512GB ROM for the ultimate smartphone performance.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra features 5G connectivity and uses an Octa-core Exynos 2100 SoC for fast performance overall. Furthermore, the 5,000mAh battery life is powerful enough to last you through an entire day without needing to search for a plug point. The phone also supports 25W fast charging, 15W Fast Qi/PMA wireless charging, and 4.5W reverse wireless charging.
What’s most distinctive about the S21 Ultra has got to be the S-pen support making this the first non-Galaxy Note phone to boast this feature. However, while it does support an S-Pen, there’s no dedicated socket in the phone to house the S-Pen and there’s no bundled stylus either. Nonetheless, the smartphone’s camera, quality, and features make this premium phone a worthy investment.
- 50% charge in just 30 minutes with the 25W travel adapter
- Lovely design
- Great battery life (5,000mAh)
- Quad camera with excellent optical telephoto performance (up to 100x)
- Supports S Pen stylus
- Large screen with great capability
- Up to 16GB RAM and 512GB
- Top-notch camera, including 8K recording
- Smart sensors
- No charger provided
- No microSD card slot
- May be too bulky for your pockets
- Ultrasonic finger scanner can be improved (new technology)
Xiaomi Mi 11
- Display: 6.81″ AMOLED, 1B colors, 120Hz (1440 x 3200)
- Weight: ~196g
- Dimensions: 164.3 x 74.6 x 8.1 mm
- OS: MIUI 12.5 / Android 11
- CPU: Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G, 8 cores
- GPU: Adreno 660
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 128GB / 256GB (Not Expandable), UFS 3.1
- Battery Life: 4,600 mAh
- Back Camera: 108MP (f/1.9) + 13MP (f/2.4) + 5MP (f/2.4)
- Front Camera: 20MP (f/2.2)
- Dust/Water Resistant: –
- SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
- Warranty: 1 Year
Xiaomi’s 2021 flagship phone the Mi 11 sports a shiny new screen that supports 1B colors, increased resolution, and a higher refresh rate! This smartphone is also equipped with one of the best hardware available in the market – a Snapdragon 88 SoC. in terms of construction, the Mi 11 Ultra sports a Gorilla Glass Victus front, a ceramic rear, and an aluminum frame for a sleek and modern design that feels premium.
The Mi 11 smartphone also has an impressive rear 48MP camera setup and a front 20M lens to capture your selfie as realistically as possible. The main camera system also has a secondary display that can be used to display the time or used as a camera viewfinder.
The device itself has also had a boost in performance of 20% thanks to the upgraded CPU and GPU. Reading and writing with the smartphone is also faster with the UFS3.1. The smartphone also has a faster charging time at 55W and it also includes a reverse wireless charging of 10W.
The Mi 11 also sports an IR blaster that turns the smartphone into a makeshift universal remote as well as Miracast support. Similar to the two devices discussed above, the Mi 11 also has 5G dual SIM functionality.
As for storage, the Xiaomi phone has a 128GB and 256 GB variant for users to pick from. However, they’re non-expandable, meaning no options for further storage expansion. Another drawback is that the phone’s USB Type C port only works at USB 2.0 speeds, which could be a little slow for modern standards.
Nonetheless, these are not major deal breakers as the smartphone is very high quality and has advanced functionality that you’d find in more premium smartphones – all at a relatively affordable price of less than RM3K.
- Nice display
- Excellent performance for multitasking
- Quality build
- Great speakers
- Great cameras
- No IP rating
- The camera is nothing fancy
- There is no 3.5mm audio jack
- Outdated USB 2.0 Port
Huawei P40 Pro
- Weight: 209 g
- Dimensions: 158.2 x 72.6 x 9 mm
- OS: Android 10, EMUI 10.1, no Google Play Services
- Screen size: 6.58 inches
- Resolution: 1200 x 2640
- CPU: Octa-core
- Battery:4200 mAh
- Rear camera: 50 MP+12 MP+40 MP
- Front camera: 32 MP
The Huawei P40 Pro is what we call an upgrade done right! The company takes P30 Pro’s blueprint to near perfection with a massive camera sensor, 90Hz screen, and updated internals. The P40 Pro now comes with raised corners with curved glass on all four sides mimicking water on the brink of breaking the surface tension. The curved glass allows for smoother swiping from any direction compared to most smartphones in the market.
The P40 Pro also comes with a high-refresh-rate display with a 90Hz AMOLED panel that allows it to be simply one of the best screens ever to be fitted on a Huawei device. The amazing display allows for superb viewing angles with little to no color shift when you tilt the device. The 440 nits sustained brightness also allows the screen to be viewed in direct sunlight without any problem.
In terms of performance, the P40 Pro has an identical processor or memory setup to the Mate 30 Pro. It has a decent Kiti 990 system-on-a-chip (SoC) that delivers similar CPU power to the Snapdragon 855 but lesser GPU performance.
In combination with an 8GB RAM, multitasking on the P40 Pro feels buttery smooth. The performance is further enhanced with Huawei’s task management that constantly frees up memory by killing old apps.
Battery-wise, the P40 Pro has a 4,200mAh battery with a 40W SuperCharge adapter to charge the battery from zero to 100% in as little as 74 minutes. The smartphone also supports 27W wireless charging for convenience.
As for the camera, Huawei has refined it to include a wide, ultra-wide, telephoto, and time of flight (ToF) camera on the back. In front, there’s a 32MP selfie shooter backed by laser-guided autofocus.
The main 50MP RYYB camera at the back has a mammoth 1/1.28-inch sensor – one of the largest of any smartphone in Malaysia. The camera also has a zoomed perspective that’s similar to the P30 Pro with a 5x periscope optical and 30x digital hybrid setup.
Overall, the Huawei P40 Pro is a stunner device that ticks many boxes: a great screen, superb build quality, decent battery life, and excellent camera system. It is a shame that Google apps are missing, but if that’s not an issue for you, then this is definitely a top-flight Huawei smartphone to consider.
- Crafted to near perfection
- 90Hz display is a step forward
- Superb camera system
- Excellent ergonomics
- No GMS support
- AppGallery is limited
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
- Screen: 6.5-inch AMOLED (2400×1080: 120 Hz)
- CPU: Snapdragon 865
- RAM: 6GB
- Storage: 128GB, expandable up to 1TB
- Rear cameras: Triple-lens: 12MP main (ƒ/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2), 8MP telephoto with 3x zoom (ƒ/2.4)
- Front camera: 32MP (ƒ/2.2)
- Battery size: 4,500 mAh
- Size: 6.29 x 2.93 x 0.33 inches
- Weight: 6.7 ounces
This bezel-free smartphone is a great mid-range alternative to Samsung’s Galaxy S20 counterpart that delivers 5G connectivity, a tri-camera system with 30x Space Zoom, and a 120Hz display. This means that the Galaxy S20 FE remains as one of the best values in Android smartphones that’s relatively cheaper than the Galaxy S21.
The Galaxy S20 FE comes with just one configuration which is 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM. However, a good thing is that the storage is expandable up to 1TB with a microSD card. The smartphone also comes in six color options: Navy, Lavender, Mint, Red, White, and Orange to fit your preference.
While the company has made a couple of design concessions to keep the price affordable, it doesn’t mean the phone looks or feels cheap at all! The back of the phone is polycarbonate plastic with curved sides for a unified and solid design. The handset is also IP68 rated so you need not worry if you accidentally spill water on it.
The 120Hx display is a nicer feature with a Full HD+ screen that delivers smoother scrolling and better gameplay in a growing array of titles that are beginning to support 120Hz panels. The Galaxy device hits a peak of 679 nits of brightness with Adaptive brightness turned on. Anything more than 600 nits is already good enough. The screen is also very colorful with a registered 133.3% of DPI-P3 color space.
For camera performance, the S20 FE offers a trio of rear lenses plus a front 32MP camera for beautiful selfies. The back camera has a 12MP ultra-wide shooter with an f/2.2 aperture and a 123-degree field of view. The main 12MP camera (f/1.8) and 8MP telephoto lens come with 3x optical zoom and 30x digital Space Zoom, which is pretty impressive for a phone.
Finally, the S20 FE is equipped with a 4,500 mAh battery and ships with a 15W charger. Though this is notably slower than the 25W charger, you can also opt to buy a 25W charger separately for faster charging with the FE. Overall, the Galaxy S20 FE is one of the best smartphones in Malaysia for the money.
- Affordable price point
- Gorgeous display
- Big 120Hz display
- Available in six colors
- Powerful triple-camera system
- Solid performance
- Battery life could be better
- Fast charger costs extra
Redmi Note 10 Pro
- Processor: Octa-core (2×2.3 GHz Kryo 470 Gold & 6×1.8 GHz Kryo 470 Silver)
- Chipset: Qualcomm SM7150 Snapdragon 732G (8 nm)
- GPU: Adreno 618
- RAM & Storage: 8GB RAM,128GB / 6GB RAM, 128GB
- External Storage: microSDXC (dedicated slot)
- OS: Android 11, MIUI 12
- Battery Li-Po: 5020 mAh, non-removable battery
- Fast charging: 33W
- Display size: 6.67 inches, 107.4 cm2 (~85.6% screen-to-body ratio) 1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~395 ppi density)
- Display type: AMOLED, 120Hz, HDR10, 450 nits (typ), 1200 nits (peak)
- Features: Corning Gorilla Glass 5
For a smartphone that costs less than RM1,500, this flagship phone is jam-packed with specs that will fare high on a bargain hunter’s list. If you can live without 5G, then the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro may be one of the best Android bargains that deliver a great screen, fast performance, decent battery life, and a solid camera.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro has a large 120Hz OLED screen that is supported with Snapdragon 732G for a great gaming experience. The phone has a Gorilla Glass back, not plastic which we are beginning to see even in alarmingly expensive Android phones. However, while the glossy rear is pretty to look at, it can be a fingerprint magnet.
The smartphone construction is IP53 rated for water and dust resistance, meaning a little water or dust won’t kill your precious device. But you should definitely not soak it in the pool or sink. You also get solid camera capabilities thanks to the main quad-camera system that boasts 108MP, 8MP, 5MP, and 2MP lenses.
While the performance isn’t as excellent compared to its competitors with a Snapdragon 732G, it does just fine given its asking price. The smartphone is also equipped with a mighty 5,020 mAh battery which is a major plus point. Many reviewers have also noted that the phone is able to support up to 18 hours of video playback.
All in all, the Redmi Note 10 Pro is a great affordable gaming phone with a solid gaming-series processor bolstered by excellent stereo speakers, long battery life, and a great OLED screen. This is also one of the cheapest phones that offer similar experiences to more premium smartphones in Malaysia.
It offers a great screen, good general performance, a strong main camera, and a massive battery life that outlasts many phones.
- Excellent stereo speakers
- Big and bold 120Hz OLED screen
- Long battery life
- Impressive camera
- Affordable price
- No 5G
- Lacks stabilization for 4K video
Conclusion – Which is the Best Mobile Phone?
Picking the best smartphone for you is not rocket science, but it is highly recommended for you to plan out your purchase before making the final decision. Before deciding on which is the right one for you, you should ask yourself a few questions first: how much storage do you need? What battery life do you need? Would this phone be able to last more than 3 years?
You need to keep in mind that an expensive product does not necessarily mean it will last long or that it’s the right pick for you. Hence, you need to always keep in mind the important factors during your research to find out the best smartphone in Malaysia for you. We hope our review guide today has given you enough information on how to pick the best phone that best meets your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the best smartphone brand in Malaysia?
The best smartphone brand is not an easy question and the debate is intense. But we believe that Samsung and Apple are easily the two best brands of mobile phones in Malaysia.
Where to buy a phone in Malaysia?
Malaysians used to only be able to buy a phone in retail stores, but with advanced technology and the internet, you can now purchase them online for ultimate convenience. In fact, you may even get to enjoy discounted prices and additional promotions on online stores such as Lazada and Shopee.