We’ve done smartphones under RM600, we’ve done laptops under RM3,000 and under RM5,000, and we’ve even done the best prepaid and postpaid plans to get in Malaysia, so now we’re finally going to do a smartphone buyer’s guide for perhaps the most common price point everybody asks for; here are the best smartphones to get in Malaysia for under RM1,000.
Of course, there are a couple of key things we want to point out first. For starters, all of the smartphones that have made this list launched this year. While you can of course get yourself an older flagship smartphone from yesteryear at around this price point, that brings with it some concerns about software support and OS updates. We’ll also be looking mostly at the recommended retail price of these devices, as prices can fluctuate over time; this also means that you can snag one of these devices for cheaper than RM1,000 during a sale too.
With that out of the way, let’s begin then with one from a manufacturer that’s perhaps more well known for their flagship devices.
Samsung Galaxy A23
Before we even start, let’s first make it clear that this entry is talking about the Samsung Galaxy A23 that’s 4G-only which launched back in March this year, not the more recent (and more expensive) Galaxy A23 5G. The Galaxy A23 packs a decently-sized 6.6-inch FHD+ LCD display with a 90Hz refresh rate, while under the hood you’re also getting a Snapdragon 680 processor with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
For the cameras, the Galaxy A23 packs a 50MP, f/1.8 main camera flanked by a 5MP, f/2.2 ultrawide lens, a 2MP macro sensor and a 2MP depth sensor. Up front, you’ll find an 8MP camera for taking selfies. Elsewhere, there’s also a 3.5mm audio jack, a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, a 5,000mAh battery with 25W charging and support for WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0.
If you thought that Samsung’s naming convention of having both 5G and non-5G versions of the same model name was confusing, then you’re in for a treat as Realme are the second offenders here and they won’t even be the last.
The Realme 9 was launched a month before the Realme 9 5G, and just like the Galaxy A23 packs a Snapdragon 680 system-on-chip with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 128GB of storage. It has a 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display too with a 90Hz refresh rate and a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 over it for scratch resistance.
In the camera department, the Realme 9 has a main 108MP camera flanked by an 8MP ultrawide lens and a 2MP macro shooter, with a 16MP front-facing camera for selfies. You’ll also find a 5,000mAh battery with 33W fast charging along with a 3.5mm audio jack, an in-display fingerprint sensor and support for WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.1.
The Realme 9 starts at RM899 for the base model with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, while the one with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage goes for RM999; you’ll be able to find them on Realme’s official store on Shopee.
Redmi Note 11 Pro
Again not to be confused with the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G, the Redmi Note 11 Pro debuted back in February with a 6.67-inch FHD+ AMOLED display pushing a 120Hz refresh rate, with a layer of Gorilla Glass 5 over it for scratch resistance. Under the hood, it has a MediaTek Helio G96 processor with up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
As for its cameras, the Redmi Note 11 Pro has a 108MP main camera flanked by an 8MP ultrawide angle lens and a pair of 2MP depth and macro sensors. There’s also a 16MP selfie camera in front. You’ll find a 5,000mAh battery keeping the lights on with 67W fast charging too, along with a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, a 3.5mm audio jack, stereo speakers and support for WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.1.
The Redmi Note series is a regular candidate for best smartphone under RM1,000 every year, and this time around the Redmi Note 11 Pro is our first member of the series on this list. It launched at RM999 for the version with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, while for RM100 more you can also get it with 8GB of RAM.
Vivo surprised us all when back in May, they launched a pair of very solid midrange smartphones in Malaysia, the Vivo T1 5G and the Vivo T1x. We’re going to be looking at the latter here, which packs a Snapdragon 680 processor with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 128GB of storage underneath a 6.58-inch FHD+ LCD display pushing a 90Hz refresh rate.
The Vivo T1x also comes with a triple rear camera setup, featuring a 50MP main camera with two 2MP shooters for depth and macro, while for selfies you get an 8MP front facing camera. Keeping the lights on meanwhile is a 5,000mAh battery with 18W fast charging. There’s also a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, a 3.5mm audio jack and support for WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0.
While technically packing the same Snapdragon 680 as some of the other devices mentioned earlier, the Vivo T1x impressively manages to undercut them quite a bit with a starting price of just RM649, albeit with just 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage on the base model. The Vivo T1x with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage though is still reasonably priced at RM899, and you can find them on sale at their official store on Shopee.
Redmi Note 11s 5G
The second member of the Redmi Note series to make our list, the Redmi Note 11S 5G is also the first 5G-capable device listed here too. It features a 6.6-inch FHD+ LCD display with a 90Hz refresh rate, while under the hood there’s a MediaTek Dimensity 810 processor with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
You’ll also find a triple rear camera setup with a 50MP, f/1.8 main camera next to an 8MP ultrawide angle lens along with an additional 2MP macro sensor, while upfront is a 13MP selfie camera. Other features of note include stereo speakers, a 3.5mm audio jack, an IR blaster, a side-mounted fingerprint sensor and support for NFC, WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity. Keeping the lights on meanwhile is a 5,000mAh battery with 33W fast charging.
Officially, the Redmi Note 11s 5G is priced at RM999, making it the Redmi Note series’ most affordable 5G option. However, you’ll also be able to find the cheaper 4GB RAM + 128GB storage version on the global Xiaomi store on Shopee for just RM799 too.
Poco M4 5G
Lastly, we have the Poco M4 5G. It’s honestly not that great when compared to the rest of the other smartphones we have listed out here, with the biggest drawback here being its entry-level MediaTek Dimensity 700 processor under the hood, mated to up to 6GB of RAM and up to 128GB of storage. That’s a chip that was first introduced early last year, and was also the dominant processor used in our list of best smartphones under RM1,000 from last year. At the very least though, you are getting 5G connectivity.
Elsewhere, the Poco M4 5G has a 6.58-inch FHD+ LCD display with a 90Hz refresh rate, and a touch sampling rate of 240Hz. For cameras meanwhile, there’s a main 13MP, f/2.2 main camera and a 2MP, f/2.4 depth sensor. There’s also a front facing 5MP, f/2.2 camera for your selfie needs. You’ll also find a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, a 3.5mm audio jack, support for WiFi 5, Bluetooth 5.1 and NFC as well as a 5,000mAh battery with 18W fast charging.
Where the Poco M4 5G does shine though is its price. Starting at RM699 for the base model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, it’s one of the cheapest devices on our list and features 5G connectivity too, something that is suddenly a lot more relevant following recent developments in Malaysia. You can also go for the higher end option with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for RM899 instead.
The sub-RM1,000 market hasn’t been great this year
Overall, there’s a surprising lack of standout options in the sub-RM1,000 range this year especially compared to the plethora of great smartphones at this price point from last year.
In 2021, we had some brilliant bang-for-buck options such as the Poco X3 Pro which packed a very solid Snapdragon 860 processor with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage, a 6.67-inch FHD+ LCD display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a large 5,160mAh battery too. There was a decent 48MP f/1.79 main camera on the rear flanked by an 8MP ultrawide camera, a 2MP macro lens and another 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor. There’s also a 20MP front camera for selfies.
All of that could’ve been yours starting at just RM999 last year, which was just great value at the time. There was also other great options like the Redmi Note 10 Pro which has a Snapdragon 732G with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 128GB of storage and a much better 6.67-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, again starting at just RM999.
This time round though, it does seem like the great value options of yesteryear are slowly fading away. We don’t even have a single device packing a Snapdragon 700 or 800 series chip, even for the non-5G options. Instead, for solid value buys you’re likely going to need to push your budget a little higher than before, up to the sub-RM1,500 category instead (thanks inflation). There, you’ll find options like the Vivo T1 5G, Samsung Galaxy A33, and maybe even the Poco F4 if it’s on discount.
Nevertheless, if you think we missed any other smartphone worth getting for below RM1,000, let us know in the comments below!