LIST: Budget phones under P5,000 for online classes

Art Fuentes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 19 2020 09:21 AM

Arwin Flores uses his cellphone to capture the enrollment forms in pictures and send it to the school on June 26, 2020 in Navotas City, as the first step of the school-mandated distance learning. Families like Flores' will have to adapt to mobile technology to be able to practice distance learning in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Department of Education has moved the opening of classes to October, thus giving more time for teachers, students and their parents to prepare for the new “blended” learning system, which includes online classes. 

For many parents, buying a new gadget for their kids will be a challenge, especially with the current economic climate. Many of the phones, tablets and computers needed for online classes can easily cost tens of thousands of pesos.

But there are cheaper alternatives out there for parents who are on a tight budget.

For online learning, the DepEd recommends that a smartphone have the following specs:

Processor - Octacore 2.0 Ghz
Memory - 2 GB
Display size - 6 inches
Display resolution - 720 x 1520 pixels
Storage - 32 GB 

The DepEd also recommends that the phone be capable of connecting to 3G and 4G networks, and have Wifi and Bluetooth. Android 8.1 is also recommended. 

It’s not advisable to get phones with lower specs. A phone with just 1GB of memory will be too slow for most apps, while phones with just 8GB of storage may not have enough room to install new apps or data.

While a lot of affordable phones have better specs than the DepEd’s configuration, many of them cost P6,000 and upwards. 

Parents and students, whose budget is below this price range, however, can still buy a smartphone that meets the DepEd’s specifications.

Below are some of the most affordable smartphones based on prices listed on the official stores of these brands in various online shopping platforms. 

SMARTPHONES BELOW P5,000

Cherry Mobile Flare S8 Lite - P3,299
This is a Filipino brand that’s known for selling budget phones. 

Processor - 2GHz Octacore
Memory - 2GB
Storage - 16 GB
Display size - 5.71”
Display resolution - 720 x 1520
OS - Android 9.0

While it comes with only 16GB onboard storage, this can be expanded up to 128GB with a micro SD card for storing files. 

MyPhone myXI1 Plus - P3,499 
MyPhone is another Filipino brand known for its budget phones.

Processor - 1.4GHz Quadcore
Memory - 3GB
Storage - 32 GB
Display size - 5.45”
Display resolution - not specified
OS - Android 9.0

While the processor is just quadcore instead of octacore, the 3GB of RAM (1GB higher than the DepEd spec) is a welcome bump up in specs, especially for students who need to use Zoom or other online video conferencing apps. It also comes with a free digital TV dongle. 

There is an even cheaper version of this model, costing just P2,999 but it comes with just 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. While the storage seems low and not up to par with the DepEd’s recommendation, it can be expanded with an OTG (on the go) USB drive for storing files.

Cherry Mobile Flare S8 - P3,999
This is the bigger, more powerful version of Cherry Mobile’s latest line of phones. 

Processor - 2.3GHz Octacore
Memory - 3GB
Storage - 32 GB
Display size - 6.26”
Display resolution - 720 x 1520
OS - Android 9.0

Xiaomi Redmi 9A - P4,390
Xiaomi is one of the most well-known brands from China and it sells budget to mid-tier phones.

Processor - 2.3GHZ Octacore 
Memory - 2GB
Storage - 32GB
Display size - 6.53”
Display resolution - 720 x 1600
OS - Android 10.0

While the 2GB memory seems like a downgrade from the 3GB in cheaper phones, Xiaomi is known for its reliability. 

Huawei Y5P - P4,490

An industry tracker reported that Huawei overtook Samsung in the second quarter of 2020 to become the largest phone vendor in the world, thanks to its dominance of the Chinese market. The Y5P is the most basic phone in Huawei's lineup for the Philippines. Its specs are in line with the DepEd's recommendations. 

Processor - 1.8GHz Quadcore
Memory - 2GB
Storage - 32 GB
Display size - 5.71”
Display resolution - 720 x 1520
OS - Android 9.0

Starmobile UP OCTA 
This is another local brand that sells budget phones. 

Processor - Octacore
Memory - 2GB
Storage - 16GB
Display size - 6.08”
Display resolution - 720 x 1440
OS - Android 9.0

Realme C11 - P4,990
Realme is the sister brand of Oppo, which is also one of the 5 largest smartphone vendors in the world. The C11 is the most affordable model in its lineup in the Philippines. 

Processor - 2.3GHz Octacore
Memory - 2GB
Storage - 32GB
Display size - 6.5”
Display resolution - 720 x 1600

Vivo Y91C 
This is another Chinese brand that sells budget to high-end phones. 

Processor - 2GHZ Octacore 
Memory - 2GB
Storage - 32GB
Display size - 6.22”
Display resolution - 720 x 1520
OS - Android 9.0

For online classes, the most important specs for a phone are processor speed, memory, storage and screen size. The entry level phones mentioned above have very similar specs in this regard. The differences in their prices are mainly due to their design and the materials used, cameras, battery capacity, and other specs that may not be as significant for online classes.

Besides the brands listed above, there are also many other cheaper phones and tablets from original equipment manufacturers or OEMs being advertised on online shopping platforms. 

Many of these items feature specs that seem too good to be true. It is advisable to first read the buyers' reviews of these gadgets before putting them in your shopping cart.