Here at the SoyaCincau office, there’s nothing more we love than smartphones. But we know not everyone can afford the latest and greatest iPhone or Galaxy device year in year out. In fact, for most users a simple smartphone priced more reasonably around the RM1,000 mark is typically where they would start when looking for a new smartphone.
As such, being the big smartphone nerds that we are, we’re back at it again with a new buyer’s guide complete with the best smartphones to get in Malaysia at the moment for RM1,000 or less. The main criteria we have here though is that we’re only going to look at smartphones launched since the start of the year because, let’s face it, who wants to use an old phone? More importantly, we’re looking at only the latest smartphones because at this price point software support is pretty bad and we can’t in good faith suggest you buy a smartphone only to have it run outdated software like Android 10.
With that out of the way, let’s get right into the list with not just one, but two fan favourite smartphones in this price category.
Redmi Note 12 series
It was just a couple of weeks ago that Xiaomi Malaysia finally brought the Redmi Note 12 series to Malaysia, and while the star of that show was the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ with a 200MP camera we’re going to look at the two non-Pro Redmi Note 12 devices instead.
Both the Redmi Note 12 5G and the Redmi Note 12 4G—why couldn’t they name them differently—feature 6.67-inch, FHD+ AMOLED displays with a 120Hz refresh rate and a peak brightness of 1200nits. You’ll also find a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 over it for scratch resistance and an IP53 dust and water resistance rating too. Keeping the lights on is a 5,000mAh battery with 33W fast charging, and there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and an IR blaster too.
It’s what’s under the hood that separates the Redmi Note 12 5G from its 4G-only sibling, with the former packing the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 processor—the first of its kind in Malaysia—mated to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, with Android 12 out of the box skinned with MIUI 14 over it. On the back meanwhile is a 48MP main camera with an 8MP ultrawide and a 2MP macro lens while up front is a 13MP selfie shooter.
As for the Redmi Note 12 4G, it features a Snapdragon 685 instead, with up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Curiously it comes with the newer Android 13 instead, again skinned with MIUI 14 over it. On the back is a 50MP main camera with an 8MP ultrawide and a 2MP macro along with a 13MP selfie shooter in front.
When it comes to the price though, despite the title of this article we’re going to give the Redmi Note 12 5G a little leeway here as it’s priced at RM1,099, a smidge over our budget. But if you don’t mind the lack of 5G, the Redmi Note 12 4G starts at just RM699, comfortably below our RM1,000 budget.
Poco X5 5G
Our next smartphone is unfortunately also priced over our budget, but at RM1,099 and often times priced below that during sales, we felt it was worth mentioning the Poco X5 5G here anyway.
Being a brand under Xiaomi means that the Poco X5 5G shares a lot of the same hardware found on the Redmi Note 12 series. This means a 6.67-inch, FHD+ AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, a peak brightness of 1200nits and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 over it. There’s also a 5,000mAh battery with 33W fast charging, a 3.5mm headphone jack and an IR blaster, while on the back is a triple rear camera setup with a 48MP main camera flanked by an 8MP ultrawide and a 2MP macro, along with a 13MP selfie shooter.
But unlike the two aforementioned Redmi devices, the Poco X5 5G uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor instead, mated to up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage with Android 12 out of the box skinned with MIUI 13. It’s also perhaps worth mentioning the Poco X5 Pro 5G here just a bit, which is slightly more expensive starting at RM1,299 but is upgraded with a Snapdragon 778G, faster 67W fast charging and a better 108MP main camera.
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G
If you’re trying to move away from the Xiaomi ecosystem or maybe you just don’t like MIUI, then the next option we have on this list is the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G.
Priced at RM949, the Galaxy A14 5G’s biggest shortfall is the aging MediaTek Dimensity 700 processor under the hood, which is mated to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage running Android 13 skinned with One UI Core 5. However, Samsung has guaranteed it two major OS upgrades and four years of security updates, perhaps the best software support in this price segment.
Elsewhere, the Galaxy A14 5G has a 6.6-inch FHD+ LCD display with a 90Hz refresh rate, which is a welcome upgrade over the Galaxy A13 5G’s 720p screen. There’s also a 50MP main camera on the back flanked by two 2MP cameras for macro and depth as well as a 13MP front camera. Keeping the lights on meanwhile is a 5,000mAh battery with 15W fast charging.
The Realme 10 debuted in Malaysia back in February with a RM999 price tag. That gets you a smartphone with a relatively compact 6.4-inch, FHD+ AMOLED display pushing a 90Hz refresh rate while under the hood is a MediaTek Helio G99 processor—this means that it’s a 4G only smartphone. You’ll also get 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage with Android 12 out of the box.
Elsewhere, the Realme 10 has a 50MP main camera with a secondary 2MP black and white shooter while in front is a 16MP selfie camera. The Realme 10 also has a 5,000mAh battery with 33W fast charging.
At first glance, the Honor X8a seems like one of the weaker options here. Priced at RM999, it features a 6.7-inch, FHD+ LCD display with a 90Hz refresh rate with a MediaTek Helio G88 processor that’s a couple of years old now. This comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, along with Android 12 out of the box.
However, it’s in the camera department where the Honor X8a has the edge over its rivals on this list, as it features a main 100MP main camera flanked by a 5MP ultrawide and a 2MP macro lens. You also get a 16MP front facing camera for you selfie needs. No 3.5mm headphone jack here, but there is a 4,500mAh battery with 22.5W fast charging.
iQoo Z7x 5G
Lastly, we have a smartphone from the Vivo sub brand iQoo making their debut on our buyer’s guide lists with the iQoo Z7x 5G. Starting at RM999, the midrange device features a 6.64-inch, FHD+ LCD display with a 120Hz refresh rate while powering it is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chipset, with up to 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage and Android 13 out of the box.
It’s key selling point though is perhaps that it packs the largest battery among all the phones listed here today, with a 6,000mAh battery supporting 80W fast charging. You’ll also find a 50MP main camera alongside a 2MP depth sensor on the back, as well as an 8MP selfie camera up front.