Despite its flaws, we liked the Pixel 7a a lot and think it will be perfect for some people. The price is kind of high if you’re just looking at hardware alone but what the Pixel offers is an experience. It’s not what everyone wants, and who better to present alternative options than Xiaomi and POCO? They’ve recently launched their mid-range options, which are not only priced in (almost) the same ballpark, but they sport features that are better as well.
Between the two brands, you get to choose between a more powerful processor for gaming or a more powerful camera for general photography, which are great options if you lean into either of those activities. The phones start as low as SGD469, which is a good price for a mid-range phone.
There is one caveat: Xiaomi and POCO offer only two years of OS upgrades and three years of security updates, though we’re told that it might differ between the Redmi models. This is probably the one downside of a Xiaomi and POCO phone, as their upgrades and updates are behind most of the competition. For example, the Pixel 7a gets three years of Android upgrades and five years of security updates. If you’re looking to use the phone for a good number of years then this might be something to think about. Perhaps this is why the phones are competitively priced; you win some, you lose some.
Budget Snapdragon 8+: POCO F5 Pro
The flagship F5 Pro is powered by the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor and paired with a 6.67″, WQHD+ (3200×1440) 120Hz AMOLED DotDisplay. The panel is capable of producing 1400 nits peak brightness (500 nits typical) and displaying 68 billion true-to-life colours. It also supports both Dolby Vision and HDR 10+ standards.
And because it’s a gaming-centric phone, it sports what POCO calls a ‘super touch feature’, which supposedly offers more precise and accurate movement; what we do know is that the panel has a 480Hz touch polling rate and 55ms response time, which is decent.
The F5 Pro is also equipped with LiquidCool Technology 2.0, POCO’s high-performance thermal solution. It features a high-efficiency Vapor Chamber and intelligent frame stabilisation technology FEAS 2.2 for effective heat dissipation.
The cameras also look respectable on paper. The main camera sports a 64MP, 1.4μm large pixel sensor, and is flanked by an 8MP ultra wide-angle camera and a 2MP macro camera. The main camera supports the P3 wide colour gamut and is capable of both 4K and 8K recording. To top things off, it is equipped with OIS and EIS tech for stabilisation.
The F5 Pro sports a 5160mAh battery that can be charged either through 30W wireless charging ( 50% in 30 minutes) or through wired 67W turbocharging technology (50% in 15 minutes).
The POCO F5 Pro is available exclusively on the POCO Official store on Shopee in Black and White colour options. Prices start from SGD659 (8GB | 256GB).
Budget gaming spec: POCO F5
The POCO F5 is slightly cheaper than the F5 Pro though the compromises aren’t as huge. It also marks the first appearance of the 5G-enabled Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 processor, which racks up a 31% higher Antutu score than its predecessor. The F5 is also cooled using the same LiquidCool Technology 2.0 found on the Pro version of the phone.
The POCO F5 boasts a striking 6.67-inch, FHD+ (2400×1080) 120Hz Flow AMOLED DotDisplay (flexible AMOLED), though the touch polling rate is half that of the Pro version (240Hz). The POCO F5 sports a camera system that’s almost similar on paper, though it does not support 8K video recording or P3 wide gamut capture.
The battery is also slightly smaller at 5,000mAh but the phone also supports super-fast 67W turbo-charging, so it’s not hampered in terms of sheer charging speed.
The POCO F5 will be exclusively available on the POCO Official store on Lazada. Prices start from SGD539 (8GB | 256GB).
Budget 200MP sensor: Redmi Note 12 Pro+ 5G
On paper at least, the choices made for the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ 5G (12 Pro+ for short) are centred around ‘lifestyle’ users. While the POCO phones are seemingly centred around SoC performance for gaming, the two Redmi phones are built around their cameras and day-to-day performance.
The 12 Pro+ use a flexible AMOLED (Flow AMOLED), which enables slimmer bezels for a more polished look. The display also sports a 120Hz refresh rate and supports Dolby Vision and HDR 10+ standards. Audio-wise, the phone supports Dolby Atmos, High Res Audio and High Res Audio Wireless, making the phone a veritable multimedia machine.
Powering this is a Dimensity 1080 SoC, which is designed to be power efficient. It’s also able to support the massive 200MP sensor on the main camera, which has an Atomic Layer Deposit (ALD) to reduce ghosting and flare, and also OIS to mitigate shakiness.
Other perks include Xiaomi AI Image Solution and Xiaomi ProCut; the former enables features such as intelligent subject detection, computational photography for improved image quality and accelerated processing speed. The latter provides AI assistance in the form of photo composition, editing and post-production. With photos taken in 200MP mode, the system will automatically detect human and animal subjects, and suggest appropriate aspect ratios and compositions.
The 12 Pro+ is equipped with the Surge P1 chipset, which supports 120W fast charging. This means that its 5,000mAh battery can be fully charged in 19 minutes.
Midrange camera sensor king on the cheap: Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G
The 12 Pro is a slightly ‘downgraded’ version but is still pretty capable in its own right. It has the same SoC and the same display as the Plus model, so it feels mostly the same in day-to-day use. Though the 12 Pro does not have the massive 200MP sensor, it does utilise the popular 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor, a mainstay of many mid- and high-end phones. It also differs from the Plus version as it only supports 67W fast charging. This is the cheapest of the lot and is probably one of the lowest-priced phones with the IMX766 sensor available.