15 Best Smartphones In Malaysia 2021: How To Choose (Plus All Price Options)

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Plan to upgrade your phone to one of the best Smartphones in Malaysia 2021?

Smartphones have come a long way in terms of multi-tasking capabilities, screen resolution, cameras, etc. Even some of the best budget Smartphones in Malaysia are worth looking into!

So whether you want a premium, mid-range or budget Smartphone, you’ll find a selection of solid options here!

How To Choose The Best Smartphone

1. Operating System: Android Or Iphone

A phone’s operating system is the built-in software that drives and manages the functions of the phone.

There are 2 main operating systems that dominate the market, iPhone and Android.

What is the difference between these 2 operating systems?

iPhone (aka iOS):

  • Arguably more intuitive and thus, easier to use
  • Better security
  • Work well with other Apple devices
  • Regular software updates

Android:

  • Can be much cheaper than an iPhone
  • Customize-able
  • Meant to integrate with Google services

So if you already have many Apple devices, it makes sense to go with an iPhone.

While an Android would be best if you frequently use Google services and Microsoft Office.

And if you have wireless earphones, you should check which operating system works better with them!

2. App Support

Don’t forget to list down the apps you use often! Chances are, there will be a similar version available regardless if you choose iPhone or Android!

Take a peek at the respective app stores to see if they have the apps you use!

  • Android – playstore
  • iPhone – appstore

3. Screen Size

Firstly, screen size is measured from corner to corner. Rather than from top to bottom.

If you’d like to carry your phone around in your pocket, a smaller screen size (<5.5 inches) will do. And you will be able to use it comfortably with one hand.

4K resolution is overrated:

And you can always connect to a Smart TV or use a TV box if you want a bigger screen than what’s available in the Smartphone market!

4. Built-In Storage Space

Go for a Smartphone that has a minimum of 32GB of storage. To keep apps, music, photos and videos.

Something to note:

With iPhone, there’s no option to increase the built-in memory (i.e. they don’t have microSD slots). Models with bigger memory storage cost more.

5. Cameras

There is a saying that the best camera is the one that you have in your hand! And Smartphones are definitely more portable than conventional cameras.

Look for wide aperture for better low light performance, night mode, noise reduction and optical image stabilization.

iPhones have particularly great cameras compared to other Smartphones!

6. Battery Life

Apps (especially games), phone calls, etc can use up battery fast!

As a rule of thumb, do not accept a Smartphone that only lasts for less than 10 hours on full charge.

The average battery life of Smartphones is between 8 to 18 hours. Which is plenty to use anywhere! Including on the best treadmill or when you’re outside!

Quick charge is a handy feature to have! So you don’t have to wait long to use your phone again!

7. Budget

Everyone knows that iPhones are the most expensive! Followed by Samsung!

And at the other end of the spectrum, there is Huawei, Realme and Xiaomi with their more affordable phones. Although Huawei has high range phones too!

8. Other Features To Consider

  • Fingerprint or face scanning (for security) – Some of the best laptops have a fingerprint scanner too
  • Personal assistant
  • Cloud support (external memory backup)
  • Availability of third-party apps
  • NFC (Near Field Communication) –  New technology where compatible devices can exchange data, photos, etc just by being next to each other
  • 5G compatibility

Our Picks

  • Best Telephoto Phone: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
  • Best For Videographers: Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Best Value: Xiaomi Mi 11
  • Best Budget With Great Performance: Poco X3 Pro
  • Best Budget With Great Camera: Redmi Note 10 Pro

Best Premium Smartphone Malaysia 2021

1. Apple iPhone 12

Update: You’ve probably seen the ads already but Apple has introduced a new color (purple) that is exclusive to the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini!

Meant to support upcoming 5G networks:

The 6.1-inch Apple iPhone 12 includes the newest A14 chip. Along with a better dual-lens cameras and the new Super Retina XDR OLED display that does not feature on the iPhone 11!

It’s also packaged in a smaller 5.4-inch frame (Apple iPhone 12 Mini) than its predecessor, iPhone 11! And it is lighter than the iPhone 11 (~30g less). Although the screen size is still the same.

iPhone 12 has improved the front and rear cameras of the iPhone 11. With additional features like HDR video recording or night mode time lapse.

Now comparing between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini:

Both phones are virtually the same. Aside from screen size and battery capacity.

And if you’re familiar with the latest iPad Pro or old iphone 4 and 5 series, these phones now have similar flat edges rather than rounded.

Apple iPhone 12 - Green
  • Display: 6.1″ Super Retina XDR OLED (1,170 x 2,532)
  • Weight: 164g
  • Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4 mm
  • OS: iOS 14
  • CPU & RAM: Apple A14 Bionic; 4GB
  • Storage: 64 / 128 / 256GB (Not Expandable)
  • Battery: 2,815 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 12MP (ƒ/2.4) + 12MP (ƒ/1.6)
  • Front Camera: 12MP (ƒ/2.2)
  • IP Rating: IP68
  • SIM Card: Dual SIM (nano-SIM and eSIM)
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: From RM3,899 – RM4,599

Pros:

Cons:

2. Apple iPhone 11

Even with the new iPhone 12’s, this model still remains in our list!

Because of its A13 Bionic Chip. This chipset is one of the top 10 for best performance worldwide! There’s no lagging when you use the phone.

While not an incredible leap from the previous and already impressive, iPhone XR:

Apple’s iPhone 11 firmly secures Apple on the top of best Smartphone lists around. Its price makes it undeniably tempting to anyone considering the more costly iPhone 11 Pro!

One crucial drawback however, is that the phone still uses an LCD screen.

Apple iPhone 11
Photo Credits: Apple
  • Display: 6.1″ IPS LCD (828 x 1,792)
  • Weight: 194g
  • Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm
  • OS: iOS 13
  • CPU & RAM: Apple A13 Bionic; 4GB
  • Storage: 64 / 128 / 256GB (Not Expandable)
  • Battery: 3,110 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 12MP (ƒ/2.4) + 12MP (ƒ/1.8)
  • Front Camera: 12MP (ƒ/2.2)
  • IP Rating: IP68
  • SIM Card: Dual SIM (nano-SIM and eSIM)
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: RM3,399 ~RM2,899

Pros:

Cons:

3. OnePlus 8T 5G

Even though its biggest disappointing feature is the lack of wireless charging capability:

The OnePlus 8T 5G excels at other things (charging speed of up to 65W, camera, battery life, etc)!

And there’s no ignoring that 120 Hz Fluid display! That fast refresh rate equates to smooth scrolling through websites and social media feeds!

OnePlus 8T 5G
  • Display: 6.55″ Fluid AMOLED (1,080 x 2,400)
  • Weight: 188g
  • Dimensions: 160.7 x 74.1 x 8.4 mm
  • OS: OxygenOS 11 / Android 11
  • CPU & RAM: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865; 8GB / 12GB
  • Storage: 128GB / 256GB (Not Expandable)
  • Battery Life: 4,500 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 48MP (f/1.78) + 16MP (f/2.2) + 5MP (f/2.4) + 2MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 16MP (f/2.4)
  • IP Rating: n/a
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 2 Years
  • Price: From RM2,699 – RM2,999

Pros:

Cons:

4. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

Make no mistake, Samsung’s latest 5G model, Galaxy S20 FE 5G prioritizes on its 120Hz display and fast performance! Compromising on things like the build, battery and RAM (6Gb) instead.

In doing so, this model is cheaper than the Galaxy S20. Which buyers can definitely appreciate! As it’s still a very powerful phone (Snapdragon 865 processor)!

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
  • Display: 6.5″ Super AMOLED HDR10+ (1,080 x 2,400)
  • Weight: 190g
  • Dimensions: 159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4 mm
  • OS: One UI 2.5 / Android 10
  • CPU & RAM: Snapdragon 865; 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB (Expandable via MicroSD Up to 1TB)
  • Battery Life: 4,500 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 12MP (f/1.8) + 8MP (f/2.4) + 12MP (f/2.2)
  • Front Camera: 32MP (f/2.2)
  • IP Rating: IP68
  • SIM Card: Nano-SIM 1 + Hybrid (SIM or MicroSD)
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: RM3,399

Pros:

Cons:

5. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

It’s difficult to find an equal for the Samsung Galaxy S21’s astounding camera performance! The main highlight is the incredible zoom lens!

This phone can even take photos at 12-bit color RAW (at 108MP)! That certainly explains that enormous price tag!

And with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, you’ll be ready for the next generation of Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi 6E!

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
  • Display: 6.8″ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz (1,440 x 3,200)
  • Weight: 227g
  • Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm
  • OS: One UI 3.1 / Android 11
  • CPU: Exynos 2100 (5 nm) Octa-core
  • RAM: 12GB / 16GB
  • Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB (Not Expandable)
  • Battery Life: 5,000 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 108MP (f/1.8) + 10MP (f/4.9) + 10MP (f/2.4) + 12MP (f/2.2)
  • Front Camera: 40MP (f/2.2)
  • Dust/Water Resistant: IP68
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: ~RM5,299 – RM5,899

Pros:

Cons:

6. Xiaomi Mi 11

Mi 11 is Xiaomi flagship’s phone for 2021. What’s new with this model compared to its predecessor (Xiaomi Mi 10) lies in that shiny screen:

With 1B colors, increased resolution (1440p from 1080p), and a higher refresh rate (now 120Hz from 90Hz previously)!

Not forgetting the boost in performance (20%) from the upgraded CPU and GPU! Reading and writing is faster with the UFS3.1 (from UFS 3.0) too.

Other things worth noting is the faster charging time (55W now compared to 30W) including reverse wireless charging (10W from 5W).

If anyone cares, the whole phone is also thinner by 1mm than the previous model (Xiaomi Mi 10)! For all these changes however, the camera remains pretty much the same.

But we’re slotting this phone into our premium smartphone list anyways because it currently employs the most powerful Android chipset in the market (Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 and Adreno 660)!

The performance of which, beats even Samsung’s latest chip (Samsung Galaxy S21) (*1)!

While still keeping things relatively affordable (less than RM3K)! If you’re a gamer and you like Android phones, you need to seriously consider this Smartphone!

Xiaomi Mi 11
  • Display: 6.81″ AMOLED, 1B colors, 120Hz (1440 x 3200)
  • Weight: ~196g
  • Dimensions: 164.3 x 74.6 x 8.1 mm
  • OS: MIUI 12.5 / Android 11
  • CPU: Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G, 8 cores
  • GPU: Adreno 660
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB / 256GB (Not Expandable), UFS 3.1
  • Battery Life: 4,600 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 108MP (f/1.9) + 13MP (f/2.4) + 5MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 20MP (f/2.2)
  • Dust/Water Resistant: –
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: ~RM2,799-RM2,999

Pros:

Cons:

Best Smartphone Malaysia Below RM2,000

7. Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Apple iPhone SE is a great deal considering it’s an iPhone with a decent camera and power. But for less than RM2,000 (64GB)!

Plus, this phone employs the same A13 bionic chip as iPhone 11! Solidifying its position as the most powerful budget iPhone you can get!

With just a few things to compromise on! Mainly the obsolete design!

Apple iPhone SE (2020)
Photo Credits: Apple
  • Display: 4.7″ IPS LCD (750 x 1,334)
  • Weight: 148g
  • Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm
  • OS: iOS 13
  • CPU & RAM: Apple A13 Bionic; 3GB
  • Storage: 64 / 128 / 256GB (Not Expandable)
  • Battery: 1,821 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 12MP (ƒ/1.8)
  • Front Camera: 7 MP (f/2.2)
  • IP Rating: IP67
  • SIM Card: Dual SIM (nano-SIM and eSIM)
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: From RM1,999

Pros:

Cons:

8. HUAWEI Nova 7 5G

More than just 5G-compatible:

HUAWEI’s Nova 7 5G brings a crisp and clear 6.53” OLED display with rich colors to the table!

It may be wide, but you should still be able to grip and use it in one hand.

HUAWEI nova 7 5G
  • Display: 6.53″ OLED (1,080 x 2,400)
  • Weight: 180g
  • Dimensions: 160.6 x 74.3 x 8 mm
  • OS: EMUI 10.1 / Android 10
  • CPU & Ram: Kirin 985 5G (7 nm) Octa-Core; 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB / 256GB (Not Expandable)
  • Battery Life: 4,000 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 64MP (f/1.8) + 8MP (f/2.4) + 8MP (f/2.4) + 2MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 32MP (f/2.2)
  • IP Rating: n/a
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: RM1,999

Pros:

Cons:

9. Xiaomi Mi 10T

For those of you that are eying the Samsung Galaxy S20FE, Xiaomi 10, or OnePlus 8T but find yourselves hesitating because of the price:

The Xiaomi Mi 10T fills in the gap nicely! As one of the best mid-range phones you can get in Malaysia!

Not surprisingly, since they have the same CPU and GPU, the performance of the Xiaomi Mi 10T is comparable (if not equal) to OnePlus 8T or the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G (also in this list)!

And since it uses the latest UFS 3.1 tech (also in the Xiaomi Mi 11), you can expect faster reading and writing speed too!

So what’s the catch in the lower cost? This phone does not have an impressive camera.

Note: Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro packs a better camera

Xiaomi Mi 10T - Silver
  • Display: 6.67″ IPS LCD, 144Hz (1,080 x 2,400)
  • Weight: ~216g
  • Dimensions: 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm
  • OS: MIUI 12 / Android 10
  • CPU: Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865, 8 cores
  • GPU: Adreno 650
  • RAM: 6GB / 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB (Not Expandable), UFS 3.1
  • Battery Life: 5,000 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 64MP (f/1.9) + 13MP (f/2.4) + 5MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 20MP (f/2.2)
  • Dust/Water Resistant: –
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: ~RM1,699

Pros:

Cons:

Best Smartphone Malaysia Below RM1,500

10. Poco F3

There are 3 main reasons why this phone has made this list of the best Smartphones in Malaysia:

For starters, it has an AMOLED screen. Although the refresh rate is only at 120Hz.

Secondly, it employs one of the top 5 fastest chips available worldwide. We’re referring to the Qualcomm SM8250-AC Snapdragon 870 here!

And lastly, this one of the best phones you can get for just under RM1,500! A deal for anyone who prioritizes on phone display and processing power!

Poco F3
  • Display: 6.67″ AMOLED, 120Hz (1080 x 2400)
  • Weight: ~196g
  • Dimensions: 163.7 x 76.4 x 7.8 mm
  • OS: MIUI 12 / Android 11
  • CPU: Qualcomm SM8250-AC Snapdragon 870, 8 cores
  • GPU: Adreno 650
  • RAM: 6GB / 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB / 256GB (Not Expandable), UFS 3.1
  • Battery Life: 4,520 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 48MP (f/1.8) + 8MP (f/2.2) + 5MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 20MP (f/2.5)
  • Dust/Water Resistant: IP53
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: ~RM1,399

Pros:

Cons:

11. Redmi Note 10 Pro

Oddly about the same price as its predecessor, Redmi Note 9 Pro:

The first thing you might notice is the higher display quality as the Redmi Note 10 Pro has an AMOLED screen. With a not-so-impressive refresh rate of 120Hz.

There is improvement in the CPU, upgraded from Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G to Qualcomm SM7150 Snapdragon 732G. With no change to the GPU (still Adreno 618).

And its fast charging capability is 3W more than what it was in the Redmi Note 9 Pro.

This model also sees a switch for a better rear camera! But keeps the front camera of the previous model.

In fact, this is our pick for the best budget phone with great camera performance. Because you can’t find a phone at this price with its 108MB rear camera!

Redmi Note 10 Pro
  • Display: 6.67″ AMOLED, 120Hz (1,080 x 2,400)
  • Weight: ~193g
  • Dimensions: 164 x 76.5 x 8.1 mm
  • OS: MIUI 12 / Android 11
  • CPU: Qualcomm SM7150 Snapdragon 732G, 8 cores
  • GPU: Adreno 618
  • RAM: 6GB / 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB (Expandable), UFS 2.2
  • Battery Life: 5,020 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 108MP (f/1.9) + 8MP (f/2.2) + 5MP (f/2.4) + 2MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 16MP (f/2.5)
  • Dust/Water Resistant: IP53
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: ~RM999-1,099

Pros:

Cons:

Best Budget Smartphone Malaysia Below RM1,000

12. Poco X3 Pro

Another Poco but this one’s for less than RM1,000!

If you can forgo the need to have a crispy display with the latest technology (this phone uses an IPS LCD):

This is the best budget phone with great performance you can get now!

As there is no other phone at this price range that matches its power. It uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 chipset (CPU) and Adreno 640 (GPU).

Poco X3 Pro - Blue
  • Display: 6.67″ IPS LCD, 120Hz (1080 x 2400)
  • Weight: ~215g
  • Dimensions: 165.3 x 76.8 x 9.4 mm
  • OS: MIUI 12 / Android 11
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 860, 8 cores
  • GPU: Adreno 640
  • RAM: 6GB / 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB / 256GB (Not Expandable), UFS 3.1
  • Battery Life: 5,160 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 48MP (f/1.8) + 8MP (f/2.2) + 2MP (f/2.4) + 2MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 20MP (f/2.2)
  • Dust/Water Resistant: IP53
  • SIM Card: Hybrid Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: ~RM999

Pros:

Cons:

13. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S

Hard to ignore the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S with its appealing price! It doesn’t look cheap either!

Performance is fine enough for gaming as long as you don’t have too many apps open (i.e. multi-tasking)!

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S (Glacier White)
  • Display: 6.67″ IPS LCD (2,400 x 1,080)
  • Weight: 209g
  • Dimensions: 165.8 x 76.7 x 8.8 mm
  • OS: MIUI 11 / Android 10
  • CPU & RAM: Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G Octa-Core; 6GB / 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB / 128GB (Expandable via microSD up to 512GB)
  • Battery: 5,020 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 48MP (f/1.79) + 8MP (f/2.2) + 5MP (f/2.4) + 2MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 16MP (f/2.48)
  • IP Rating: n/a
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: RM749

Pros:

Cons:

14. Xiaomi POCO M3

Xiaomi POCO M3 has a beast of a battery! It can last for 2 days even with more than 7 hours’ of screen time!

And that’s not all:

Its audio performance (stereo speakers) stands out from competitors in the same price range! Furthermore, at low light, the camera is not too shabby!

So you can imagine how much better it is in daylight!

Xiaomi POCO M3
  • Display: 6.53″ IPS LCD (1,080 x 2,340)
  • Weight: 198g
  • Dimensions: 162.3 x 77.3 x 9.6 mm
  • OS: EMUI 12 / Android 10
  • CPU & RAM: Qualcomm SM6115 Snapdragon 662 Octa-Core; 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB / 128GB (Expandable via microSD up to 512GB)
  • Battery Life: 6,000 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 48MP (f/1.8) + 2MP (f/2.4) + 2MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 8MP (f/2.1)
  • IP Rating: n/a
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: ~RM699

Pros:

Cons:

15. Honor 9X Lite

Sporting a clean design, the Honor 9X Lite has ample memory space (4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage).

And a borderless LCD display of maximum 1080p!

Honor 9X Lite (Emerald Green)
  • Display: 6.5″ IPS LCD (1,080 x 2,340)
  • Weight: 188g
  • Dimensions: 160.4 x 76.6 x 7.8 mm
  • OS: EMUI 9.1 / Android 9.0
  • CPU & RAM: Kirin 710F Octa-Core; 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB (Expandable via microSD up to 512GB)
  • Battery: 3,750 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 48MP (f/1.8) + 2MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 8MP (f/2.0)
  • IP Rating: n/a
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: RM699

Pros:

Cons:

More choices of the best budget smartphones.

Conclusion

Of the best smartphones in Malaysia 2021:

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G and iPhone 12 pro max have the best camera performance (with telephoto lens)! Both are ~6.7” phones with comparable processing speed!

And if you just want a premium phone with great performance and a relatively decent camera, go for the iPhone 12!

For smartphones under RM2,000, consider the Apple IPhone SE or HUAWEI Nova 7 5G. Or the value-for-money Xiaomi POCO M3 (for social media addicts)!

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