Whether you like it or not, Snapdragon 888-powered devices are expensive for both regular and enthusiast consumers. It’s probably partly the reason why we have ‘Pro’ models for each OEM’s top-end lineup, offering the best of the best and all the bells and whistles. While these ‘Pro’ devices can easily steal the spotlight, consumers are smarter than ever before, hence, many of us research and look for more value-oriented high-end phones such as the non-Pro models. As a result, we get the so-called “value flagship” that usually costs below ₱40,000 in 2021.
This year, the Philippine market has three high-end devices with all-around features to make them appealing to all sorts of users. We’re talking about the newly launched Zenfone 8, vivo X60, and OnePlus 9. Coincidentally, all three launched this month. If your budget falls around the category of under ₱40,000 for a high-end phone, here’s a comprehensive guide to help you choose which to get.
Why Choose Zenfone 8?
A compact high-performance phone with no bells and whistles — that’s the Zenfone 8. ASUS is making a comeback to the Philippine scenery two years after it launched the Zenfone 5. While it did bring the flippy Zenfone 8 Flip, we feel like the Zenfone 8 has something more going despite its basic look.
Yep, unfortunately, you have to settle for the standard glass slab of the Zenfone 8. But if you’re a case person, it shouldn’t be a problem. On the flip end, the Zenfone 8 is one of the more durable phones out there, sporting Gorilla Glass Victus for the front, Glass 3 for the back, an aluminum frame, and an IP68 water and dust resistance rating to top it all off.
The Zenfone 8 is also the smallest among the comparison group, featuring a 5.9″ FHD+ Super AMOLED display. Albeit small, it’s a bright, punchy, and fast screen, thanks to a 120Hz refresh rate and up to 1100 nits peak brightness. The screen size may favor those who’re always on the go, but it may also limit those users who play games competitively, especially when there’s a lot of on-screen controls.
Despite the smaller stature of the Zenfone 8, reviews say that the stereo speaker is one of the best in this category. If that’s not enough to entice you, the Zenfone 8 is the only one with a headphone jack in this comparison. But for the same reason, the battery is the smallest at 4000mAh, albeit with 30W fast charging.
The least exciting part about the Zenfone 8 is its cameras. The rear shooters provide two options only — a 64MP sensor with OIS and a 12MP for ultrawide. A 12MP sensor commands the front, but it’s the only one capable of recording 4K videos in this comparison.
Performance-wise, the Zenfone 8 takes the cake from OnePlus as a device that offers a stock Android experience. In other words, the most important features are present, and there’s no bloatware out of the box. It’s hard to say if ZenUI is as smooth and snappy as OxygenOS, but we think it’s close.
ASUS is selling the Zenfone 8 at ₱34,995 for the 8/128GB model. But if you need more, the 16/256GB is available for ₱39,995. It’s up to you whether the doubled RAM and storage are worth it since there’s no expandable slot for all three phones.
Why Choose OnePlus 9?
With the OnePlus 9, you’re getting a flashier and larger phone. Both the front and glass back are protected by Gorilla Glass 5, but the plastic frame may mean easy scratches and dings if you’re not careful. Furthermore, there’s no IP68 rating, except for the T-Mobile model that retails in the US.
Nevertheless, the OnePlus 9 is the closest thing to a Samsung phone if that’s what you wish for. The 6.55″ display features an AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and up to 1100 nits peak brightness. The 4500mAh battery is enough to power both the Snapdragon 888 and 120Hz display without plugging in during the day, but if you need to, the 65W is the fastest in this comparison. Additionally, you have the option to wireless charge at 15W. Well, that is if you have the North American/Europe model.
Onto the cameras, the OnePlus 9 bears the Hasselblad branding for the 48MP main sensor, 50MP ultrawide, and 2MP monochrome. The 16MP selfie camera doesn’t get any love from the partnership, though. But regardless, the partnership means that the color science of the rear cameras favors natural-looking photos and videos over colorful and saturated ones. For the enthusiasts, it makes it easy to edit the colors since there’s more room for boosting shadows, highlights, and saturation. But for the regular users, it’s not the kind of camera that you immediately post after taking the shot. However, we have to mention that the 50MP is, one of, if not the sharpest ultrawide sensors out there.
OnePlus 9 comes in 12/256GB model only, along with a price of ₱38,990.
It’s a decent alternative to Zenfone 8 if you’re looking for a better overall feature set, but you do lose the IP68 in the process.
Why Choose vivo X60?
In the case of vivo X60, it prioritizes two features above all — design and cameras. The company tries to lure you in with those two features that also happen to be the most important for most users.
For starters, the X60 is the thinnest phone despite being bigger and almost as light as the Zenfone 8. It also has slightly better protection than the OnePlus 9, thanks to Gorilla Glass 6 for the front and back. However, you still get an aluminum frame with no IP rating.
The 6.56″ 120Hz AMOLED is large, colorful, and fast, but we’re a bit disappointed to see FunTouch 11.1 skin instead of the newer OriginOS. It’s not a big deal to most users, but some enthusiasts may find it a missed opportunity to test the new skin from vivo. After all, it’s a redesign that offers better features, more polished animations, and better security.
Another missed opportunity for the X60 is the use of Snapdragon 870 instead of 888. The 870 isn’t a bad chip per se, so we don’t think it’s something you should be worried about if you don’t intend to play the highest end of games.
vivo X60 may be lacking in the software department, but it’s compensating with jam-packed cameras. Among the three phones, it may be the most versatile since it offers wide, ultrawide, and telephoto lenses. For the main sensor, the X60 is using a 48MP camera with gimbal-like OIS support. Meaning, it’s the most stable video camera between the three. The 13MP telephoto offers 2x optical zoom, while another 13MP captures the ultrawide view. Unlike Zenfone 8, the cameras branded with Zeiss delivers AI bokeh effects. But if you’re more of a video person, we have to mention that there’s no 8K recording for the X60, and the 32MP selfie can only go up to 1080p.
vivo X60 comes with 12GB/256GB for ₱34,999. It’s slightly less expensive than the OnePlus 9, and although you’re missing out on IP68 rating, fluid UI, and incredibly fast charging, you might end up liking the thin & light design.
|Specs||ASUS Zenfone 8||OnePlus 9||vivo X60|
|Display||5.9″ Super AMOLED 120Hz, HDR10+, 1100 nits peak||6.55″ Fluid AMOLED 120Hz, HDR10+, 1100 nits peak||6.56″ E3 AMOLED HDR10+ 120Hz|
|Design||Gorilla Glass Victus front, Glass 3 Back, aluminum frame||Gorilla Glass 5 front and back, plastic frame||Gorilla Glass 6 front and back, plastic frame|
|Dimensions and Weight||148 x 68.5 x 8.9 mm, 169g||160 x 73.9 x 8.1 mm, 183 g||159.63mm x 75.01mm x 7.36, 176.2g|
|CPU/Chipset||Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.XX GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.XX GHz Kryo 680 / Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (5 nm)||Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.XX GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.XX GHz Kryo 680 / Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (5 nm)||Octa-core (1×3.2 GHz Kryo 585 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 585 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 585) / Snapdragon 870 5G (7 nm)|
|GPU||Adreno 660||Adreno 660||Adreno 650|
|Storage||128/256GB UFS 3.1 non-expandable||256GB UFS 3.1 non-expandable||256GB UFS 3.1 non-expandable|
|Connectivity & Ports||5G, 4G/LTE, Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.2, GPS, USB-C, NFC||5G, 4G/LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, GPS, USB-C, NFC||5G, 4G/LTE, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS, USB-C, NFC|
|Security||face unlock, in-display fingerprint scanner||face unlock, in-display fingerprint scanner||face unlock, in-display fingerprint scanner|
|Battery||4000mAh(30W)||4500mAh(65W), 15W wireless charging for EU/NA only||4300mAh(33W)|
|Audio||stereo speakers, 24-bit, aptX HD and Adaptive codecs||stereo speakers, 24-bit, aptX HD||stereo speakers, 24-bit, aptX HD|
|OS||Android 11, ZenUI 8||Android 11, OxygenOS 126.96.36.199||Android 11, Funtouch 11.1|
|Colors||Obsidian Black, Horizon Silver||Winter Mist, Arctic Sky, Astral Black||Midnight Black, Shimmer Blue|
|Price||₱34,995 and ₱39,995||₱38,990||₱34,999|
|Release Date||May 2021 (Europe, Philippines)||April 2, 2021 (North America, Europe, India), April 29, 2021 (Philippines)||January 2021 (China), March 2021 (Malaysia), May 2021 (Philippines)|