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

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

Best Premium Smartphone Malaysia 2021

1. Apple iPhone 12

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!

It’s also packaged in a smaller 5.4-inch frame (Apple iPhone 12 Mini) than its predecessor, iPhone 11!

Though both iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini phones are virtually the same. Aside from screen size and battery capacity.

And if you’re familiar with the iPad Pro, 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

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!

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:

Bigger screen:

5. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

It’s difficult to find an equal for the Samsung Galaxy S21’s astounding camera performance! It can even take photos at 12-bit color RAW (at 108MP)! That certainly explains that enormous price tag!

And with this phone, 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:

Best Smartphone Malaysia Below RM2,000

6. 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)!

With just a few things to compromise on!

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:

7. 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:

8. Samsung Galaxy A71

It doesn’t look its price (i.e. looks cheap) but the Samsung Galaxy A71 has an adaptable camera, a vibrant OLED display (and a large one, at that) and long battery life!

Samsung Galaxy A71 (Prism Crush Silver)
  • Display: 6.7″ Super AMOLED Plus (1,080 x 2,400)
  • Weight: 179g
  • Dimensions: 163.6 x 76 x 7.7 mm
  • OS: One UI 2 / Android 10
  • CPU & RAM: Qualcomm SDM730 Snapdragon 730 Octa-Core; 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB (Expandable via MicroSD up to 512GB)
  • Battery: 4,500 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 64MP (f/1.8) + 12MP (f/2.2) + 5MP (f/2.2) + 5MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 32MP (f/2.2)
  • IP Rating: n/a
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: RM1,599

Pros:

Cons:

Best Smartphone Malaysia Below RM1,500

9. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro

Stylish and functional, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro meets basic expectations at an attractive price tag!

Having great battery life does not hurt either!

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro (Tropical Green)
  • 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
  • Storage: 128GB (Expandable via MicroSD up to 512GB)
  • Battery: 5,020 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 64MP (f/1.89) + 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: RM1,099

Pros:

Cons:

10. Samsung Galaxy M31

At the RM1,000 price point, you get a brilliant AMOLED display with the Samsung Galaxy M31.

It can record videos in 4K. And the battery life is remarkable!

Samsung Galaxy M31 (Blue)
  • Display: 6.4″ Super AMOLED (2,340 x 1,080)
  • Weight: 191g
  • Dimensions: 159.2 x 75.1 x 8.9 mm
  • OS: One UI 2.0 / Android 10
  • CPU & RAM: Exynos 9611 Octa-Core; 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB (Expandable via MicroSD up to 512GB)
  • Battery: 6,000 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 64MP (f/1.8) + 8MP (f/2.2) + 5MP (f/2.2) + 5MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 32MP (f/2.0)
  • IP Rating: n/a
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: RM1,099

Pros:

Cons:

11. Samsung Galaxy M51

At its price, the Samsung Galaxy M51 is here on this list because of its substantial battery life (7,000 mAh)! That gives you lots of time to binge on your favorite series!

Which does add up to the weight (213g) and final bulk of the phone!  Not a big issue if you’re mainly using the phone to watch movies on that vivid AMOLED screen!

Samsung Galaxy M51
  • Display: 6.7″ Super AMOLED Plus (1,080 x 2,400)
  • Weight: 213g
  • Dimensions: 163.9 x 76.3 x 9.5 mm
  • OS: One UI 2.5 / Android 10
  • CPU & RAM: Qualcomm SDM730 Snapdragon 730G Octa-Core; 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB (Expandable via microSD up to 512GB)
  • Battery Life: 7,000 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 64MP (f/1.8) + 12MP (f/2.2) + 5MP (f/2.4) + 5MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 32MP (f/2.0)
  • IP Rating: n/a
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: ~RM1599

Pros:

Cons:

Best Budget Smartphone Malaysia Below RM1,000

12. 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:

13. Realme 6 (4GB + 128GB)

It’s a wonder that the Realme 6 can cost less than a RM1,000 when it offers a 90Hz display, 4 rear cameras and battery that lasts!

Realme 6 (Blue)
  • Display: 6.5″ IPS LCD (2,400 x 1,080)
  • Weight: 191g
  • Dimensions: 162.1 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm
  • OS: Realme UI / Android 10
  • CPU & RAM: MediaTek Helio G90T Octa-Core; 4GB / 6GB / 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB (Expandable via microSD up to 512GB)
  • Battery: 4,300 mAh
  • Rear Camera: 64MP (f/1.8) + 8MP (f/2.3) + 2MP (f/2.4) + 2MP (f/2.4)
  • Front Camera: 16MP (f/2.0)
  • IP Rating: n/a
  • SIM Card: Dual Nano SIMs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: RM999

Pros:

Cons:

Need more RAM? Check the price for Realme 6 (8GB + 128GB)

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:

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 Redmi Note 9 Pro (for gaming) or Xiaomi POCO M3 (for social media addicts)!

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