We just passed Q2 of 2016 and throughout the year, there have been a bunch of new smartphones making an appearance. These devices range from the high-end flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, to more affordable handsets like the brand new honor 5C. But, for someone who is looking to spend the bare minimum amount on a handset, you might find that your choices are limited.
Many tech websites, us included, are guilty of almost ignoring the cheap and cheerful smartphones in the market. Sure, when they launch we take a look at them, be like “oh they’re OK” and then move on. That makes it really hard for someone who is on a tight budget to make the right decision when purchasing a budget handset.
The thing is, as we’ve discovered after some pretty extensive testing, there are actually some really good cap ayam smartphones here in the market.
Cap ayam, for those who are unfamiliar, generally means something that’s cheap and crappy. It doesn’t cost much, but also doesn’t do much either. That’s generally the impression people get when they look at super budget smartphones.
Before we proceed, I think it’s important that we set some ground rules on what cheap and cheerful smartphone can make it on our list.
1. The smartphone must be below RM600
2. The smartphone must have been launched in 2016
3. The smartphone must at least be usable (relatively smooth performance)
With the ground rules set, here are some of the best cap ayam smartphones you can get in the market right now. And trust me, some of these smartphones can easily punch above their weight.
As usual, we will go through each device individually and at the end of it we will include an Editor’s Choice for the best smartphone under RM600 that you can buy right now in Malaysia.
We also have a detailed comparison table prepared for easy comparison between all the smartphones mentioned here. With that out of the way, let’s move onwards!
[nextpage title=”Flash Plus 2″]
The Flash Plus 2 was recently launched here in Malaysia, making our country one of the first ones to get the device. Oh boy, are we glad it did because this metal-backed handset is definitely a strong performer at its price point.
For RM599, the handset gets a MediaTek Helio P10 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, a fingerprint sensor, a 5.5-inch Full HD display and a relatively large 3,000 mAh battery with quick-charge. In the camera department, it gets a 13MP/5MP camera combo with front LED flash.
That’s not all, it’s also got a sweet NXP9890 audio amplifier and a 32-bit advanced audio headphone DAC (AKM4375). If you need more power there’s a high spec version with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage for RM729.
Flash Plus 2 — 2GB RAM/16GB storage — RM599
Where to buy:
[nextpage title=”Neffos C5″]
Part of TP-Link’s first line of smartphones, the Neffos C5 isn’t too bad of a handset. It feels pretty good for a plastic device and sports some average internals.
A 5-inch HD panel up front, a MediaTek MT6735 processor, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable storage is decidedly average at this price point. It’s also got an 8MP/5MP camera combo and a 2,200 mAh battery. If you want to know more, check out our full review of the Neffos C5.
Neffos C5 — 2GB RAM/16GB storage — RM539
Where to buy:
[nextpage title=”Samsung Galaxy J1″]
In collaboration with Yes 4G, Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy J series in Malaysia was rather grand. Among the three smartphones, the Galaxy J1 did stand out quite a bit considering at the time, it was the cheapest VoLTE enabled smartphone in Malaysia.
In terms of specs, it gets a 4.5-inch WVGA ALMOLED display, an Exynos 3475 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of expandable storage and a 2,050 mAh battery. The nice thing about this smartphone is how quickly the 5MP/2MP camera combo launches and takes photos with Samsung’s signature home button double-tap.
Samsung Galaxy J1 – 1GB RAM/8GB storage — RM449
Where to buy:
Store: Authorised Samsung retailers
[nextpage title=”Wiko Robby and uFeel Lite”]
When French side Wiko launched their devices in Malaysia, we were quite impressed with their budget offerings. The Lenny 2 was solidly built while the Fever was plain good value. This year, they released three more devices targetted a little lower down the food chain.
The Wiko Robby is here solely for the fact that it’s the best cap ayam smartphone for video watching if you can look past the fact that it doesn’t have 4G connectivity. It’s got a pair of loud (and decent-sounding) front-facing stereo speakers and a large 5.5-inch HD 720p display. Our resident audiophile had a lot of fun watching videos on it.
Wiko’s uFeel Lite has much better specifications, featuring a 5-inch HD display, a MediaTek MT6735 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, an 8MP/5MP camera combo (with front flash) and a 2,500 mAh battery. But it too has a standout feature. This is one of the cheapest smartphones in Malaysia to feature a fingerprint scanner and metal back.
Wiko Robby — 1GB RAM/16GB storage — RM449
Wiko uFeel Lite — 2GB RAM/16GB storage — RM569
Where to buy:
Store: Authorised Wiko retailers
[nextpage title=”ZTE Blade V7 Lite”]
I know what you’re thinking: “The ZTE Blade V7 Lite costs RM669! How is that under RM600?? Were you paid to write this?”. Well, yes, no it’s not and no I wasn’t (not by ZTE at least).
If you’re asking this question, odds are that you might not know that ZTE has placed this smartphone on sale for only RM499. I’ve also confirmed with ZTE that this sale is currently going on indefinitely, so if you want one you can hurry on over and pick one up for yourself.
For your money, you’ll be getting a MediaTek MT6735 processor, a 5-inch HD display, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a 13MP/8MP camera combo and a relatively large 2,500 mAh battery. You also get biometric security in the form of a fingerprint sensor that’s mounted to the back of this metal smartphone.
ZTE Blade V7 Lite — 2GB RAM/16GB storage — RM499 (discounted)
Where to buy:
Store: Authorised ZTE retailers
[nextpage title=”Yes Altitude”]
On paper, the Altitude is fairly average. It’s got a 5-inch HD display, a Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of expandable storage and an 8MP/2MP camera combo.
The good news is that it does have a relatively large (for its class) 2,300 mAh battery. It also looks a lot like a Xiaomi handset from the back.
Yes Altitude — 1GB RAM/8GB storage — RM399
Where to buy:
Online: Yes Store
[nextpage title=”Lenovo Vibe K5″]
You get a 5-inch HD display, a Snapdragon 415 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, a 13MP/5MP camera combo and a large-ish 2,750 mAh battery. It’s also got a metal back and Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers (though they’re both on the back).
Lenovo Vibe K5 — 2GB RAM/16GB storage — RM599
Where to buy:
Store: Authorised Lenovo retailers
[nextpage title=”Comparison “]
Here’s a detailed table comparing each device side by side. Click on the table to view an enlarged version.
At this price point, you can’t really be too picky, but you should definitely know what you want from your device.
If you like a premium metal build, the Flash Plus 2, ZTE Blade V7 Lite and Wiko uFeel Lite have really nice metal backs. If security is your thing, you’ve got several options here with biometric fingerprint security too.
But, I think at this price point, the factor you should focus the most on is usability and battery life. Sure, one of our main criteria is that device operation is smooth, and all these smartphones are relatively smooth, but some will be snappier than others. If you’re a heavy user and want to pick one of these up to be used as your primary smartphone, my advice would be to go for one with at least 2GB of RAM.
Also, considering we don’t get to spend too much time with these devices, we don’t know how well they will hold out over time (getting laggy over time is a big issue for budget devices). For that, perhaps some of our readers who have used any of these devices in the past for a period of time can shed some light on this aspect so be sure to check out our comments section.
[nextpage title=”Editor’s Choice”]
If you’ve read through the article, I think it’s pretty obvious which smartphone is the best one under RM600. It’s the Flash Plus 2.
You get a decent processor, enough RAM, expandable storage, high-quality audio, metal back, fingerprint scanner, dual SIM 4G LTE and a nice crisp Full HD display. We think it’s a steal at this price and that it’s easily the best value smartphone under RM600.
Want to find out more? Check out our full review of the Flash Plus 2.
What do you think of our Editor’s Choice? Did we miss out any noteworthy smartphones that were launched this year under RM600? Let us know in the comments below! If you are an owner of any one of these devices, share your thoughts on long term usage with us too!