10 Best Budget Smartphones Malaysia

top 10 best budget smartphones malaysia

The quality of budget smartphones has improved so much over the years. With brands like Xiaomi, Realme, Samsung and OnePlus constantly competing with each other,  we can now purchase faster and better smartphones at a fraction of the price of flagship models.

With so many different cheap smartphones flood the market, you may find it difficult to figure out which handphone is really the best value for money. 

In this review, I will focus on the best smartphones under RM1,000, RM700, RM500 and RM350 to buy in Malaysia. The following are my top 10 budget smartphones in Malaysia, ranked from most to least favourite.

  1. Best Smartphone Under RM1,000: Mi 11 lite
  2. Most Powerful Smartphone Under RM1,000: Redmi Note 10 Pro
  3. Best Smartphone Under RM900 : Poco X3 NFC
  4. Best AMOLED Budget Smartphone: Redmi Note 10 
  5. Alternative Budget Smartphone Under RM700: Redmi 9T
  6. Best 6GB Smartphone Under RM700: Poco M3
  7. Best Punch Hole Display Budget Smartphone: Infinix Note 10
  8. Best Smartphone Under RM500: Redmi Note 9
  9. Best Realme Budget Smartphone : Realme Narzo 30A
  10. Best Cheap Smartphone Under RM350: Redmi 9A

Comparing the top 10 budget smartphone models in Malaysia

ModelScreenChipsetsRAMStorageCameraBattery
Mi 11 Lite6.55" 90Hz AMOLEDSD 732G8GB128GB16MP, 64MP+8MP+5MP4250mAh
Redmi Note 10 Pro6.67" 120Hz AMOLEDSD 732G8GB128GB16MP, 108MP+8MP+5MP+2MP5020mAh
Poco X3 NFC6.67" 120Hz LCDSD 732G6GB128GB20MP, 64MP+13MP+2MP+2MP5160mAh
Redmi Note 10 6.43" AMOLEDSD 6786GB128GB13MP, 48MP+8MP+2MP+2MP5000mAh
Poco M36.53" LCDSD 6624GB64GB8MP, 48MP+2MP+2MP6000mAh
Redmi 9T6.53" LCDSD 6624GB64GB8MP, 48MP+2MP+2MP6000mAh
Infinix Note 106.95" LCDMT Helio G856GB128GB16MP, 48MP+2MP+2MP5000mAh
Redmi Note 96.53" LCDMT Helio G853GB64GB13MP, 48MP+8MP+2MP+2MP5020mAh
Realmi Narzo 30A6.5" LCDMT Helio G854GB64GB8MP, 13MP+2MP6000mAh
Redmi 9A6.43" LCDMT Helio G352GB32GB5MP, 13MP+2MP+2MP5000mAh

Note: SD is Snapdragon, MT is MediaTek, Camera – [front camera], [back camera 1+2+3]


How I pick

You should first understand what makes a good budget smartphone. It’s not realistic to expect all the flagship smartphones features. There are some features you should prioritize when selecting a budget smartphone.

Primary criteria

  1. Performance – Hardware like SoC and RAM should be adequate and snappy to run most of the essential daily apps.
  2. Storage – Big built-in storage is a plus point. It’s pretty irritating having to constantly transfer documents, pictures and videos.
  3. Screen – AMOLED, Super AMOLED screens are preferred. High refresh rate screen is a great feature too.

Secondary criteria

  1. Acceptable camera – Most budget smartphones’ cameras are quite good these days. Don’t believe in a big megapixel camera, it doesn’t matter that much.
  2. Quick charge – Quick charge will shorten charging time a lot and it is very convenient
  3. Battery life – Choose a battery life that matches your usage pattern. Getting a smartphone with 6000mAh battery is the best option if you play a lot of games. You need to consider buying a power bank as your daily companion if you use your smartphone a lot

1. Mi 11 Lite

Best Smartphone Under RM1,000

Best Smartphone Under RM1,000: Mi 11 lite

Best deal on Lazada Best deal on Shopee 

Mi 11 Lite Specifications:

  • Display – 6.55”, AMOLED, 90Hz, 500-800 nits
  • Chipset – Snapdragon 732G
  • Memory – 8GB RAM
  • Storage – 128GB UFS 2.2
  • Back camera – 64MP, 8MP ultrawide, 5MP macro
  • Front camera – 16MP
  • Battery – 4250mAh, Fast charge 33W
  • Weight – 157g

Reasons to buy:

  • One of the slimmest and lightest smartphone in the market
  • Solid build quality and minimalist design
  • Great video stabilisation feature

My personal favourite budget smartphone is the Mi 11 Lite. Honestly, it is listed for a little more than RM1099+. It is possible to get a good deal if you search hard enough, especially during promotion periods like 9.9 and 11.11.

I used to obsess over getting the most powerful smartphone within my budget, in order to squeeze out every bit of my hard-earned money. 

Over the years, I realized that such a mentality is good but not great. Slowly, I begin to realize that the overall usability and user experience of a smartphone are more important.

On paper, Mi 11 Lite may seem weaker in comparison to Redmi Note 10 Pro. The screen is smaller, the refresh rate is lower and there are fewer cameras on Mi 11 Lite.

The reason I think Mi 11 Lite is better is that it has better build quality, lighter, thinner and takes better video with built-in EIS (electronic image stabilisation).

As I carry my smartphone around all day long, the 6.8mm slim body design and 157g weight make a lot of difference. That’s a 40 grams difference in comparison to the Redmi Note 10 Pro. A slim smartphone feels much better to be kept in the pocket too.

The video recording quality of the Mi 11 Lite is outstanding. And it is so stable that it feels like you’re using a gimbal to record videos. Here’s a video comparison of the Redmi Note 10 Pro and Mi 11 Lite on video stabilization.

These are the top 2 reasons why I prefer the Mi 11 Lite to the Redmi Note 10 Pro. Besides that, Mi 11 Lite has a dual-glass design that feels premium and it stays cool most of the time.

In terms of photo quality, speed, and storage, both the Mi 11 Lite and Redmi Note 10 Pro are almost equivalent. As I am not a heavy gamer, I really don’t benefit much from the better screen and bigger battery life.

In my opinion, the Mi 11 Lite is a better buy for smartphones under RM1,000 because of its great design and solid raw performance.


2. Redmi Note 10 Pro

Most Powerful Smartphone Under RM1,000

Most Powerful Smartphone Under RM1,000: Redmi Note 10 Pro

Best deal on Lazada Best deal on Shopee 

Redmi Note 10 Pro Specifications:

  • Display – 6.67”, AMOLED, 120Hz, 450-1200 nits
  • Chipset – Snapdragon 732G
  • Memory – 8GB RAM
  • Storage – 128GB UFS 2.2
  • Back camera – 108MP, 8MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, 2MP depth
  • Front camera – 16MP
  • Battery – 5020mAh, Fast charge 33W
  • Weight – 193g

Reasons to buy:

  • Most powerful specs under RM1,000
  • AMOLED 120Hz display
  • Take great photos

If getting the best phone specifications is your priority, then Redmi Note 10 Pro will be the obvious choice. You can find no other smartphones which can offer anything close to it at a similar price point.

Check out the video review of the Redmi Note 10 Pro below.

The Redmi Note 10 Pro comes with one of the best screens for smartphones under RM1,000. This handphone uses a huge 6.67” AMOLED screen with a 120Hz display, which is perfect for mobile gamers.

It is powered by Snapdragon 732G and 8GB RAM. It can run popular games like PUBG mobile, FreeFire, Mobile Legend and Fornite with high video quality settings. 

It has a 5020mAh battery which is 770mAh more than Mi 11 Lite.

The camera on the Redmi Note 10 Pro is also more powerful. There are four cameras on the phone and the largest camera is 108 megapixels. It takes marginally better photos than the Mi 11 Lite. However, the difference is almost negligible.

I highly recommend Redmi Note 10 Pro for the budget gamers in Malaysia.


3. Poco X3 NFC

Best Smartphone Under RM900

Best Smartphone Under RM900 : Poco X3 NFC

Best deal on Lazada Best deal on Shopee 

Poco X3 NFC Specifications:

  • Display – 6.67”, LCD, 120Hz, 450 nits
  • Chipset – Snapdragon 732G
  • Memory – 6GB RAM
  • Storage – 128GB UFS 2.1
  • Back camera – 64MP,13MP ultrawide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth
  • Front camera – 20MP
  • Battery – 5160mAh, Fast charge 33W
  • Weight – 215g

 Reasons to buy:

  • 6.67” LCD display with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Good gaming performance
  • Truly under RM1,000

I understand that both Mi 11 Lite and Redmi Note 10 Pro may not always be under RM1,000. If you have a strict budget below RM1,000 and urgently need a new phone. Then, Poco X3 NFC is the true budget smartphone below RM1,000 you’re looking for. 

In fact, you can get it for below RM900 right now! It is as powerful as the top 2 picks in this list with a few small setbacks.

Although Poco X3 NFC is powered by Snapdragon 732G, it has a smaller 6GB RAM in comparison to Redmi Note 10 Pro 8GB RAM.

However, this has little impact on the gaming experience because 6GB RAM is already enough for most games. Shortage of RAM memory will only arise if you multitask and open too many apps simultaneously.

Other than that, the 6.67” LCD display with a centre punch hole camera is very good for watching YouTube and playing games. It has a 120Hz refresh rate too. 

Several complaints have been made regarding the screen’s dynamic refresh rate, which leads to FPS drops or unstable frame rates. But, you need not worry, as you can fix this issue by locking the refresh rate at 120Hz.

Poco X3 NFC is the cheapest smartphone with Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G in Malaysia. You can get the Poco X3 Pro or Poco X3 GT instead if you’re concerned about the screen refresh rate issue.


4. Redmi Note 10 

Best Super AMOLED Budget Smartphone

Best AMOLED Budget Smartphone: Redmi Note 10

Best deal on Lazada Best deal on Shopee 

Redmi Note 10 Specifications:

  • Display – 6.43”, AMOLED, 450 nits
  • Chipset – Snapdragon 678
  • Memory – 6GB RAM
  • Storage – 128GB UFS 2.2
  • Back camera – 48MP,8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth
  • Front camera – 13MP
  • Battery – 5000mAh, Fast charge 33W
  • Weight – 178g

Reasons to buy:

  • Almost 30% cheaper than Redmi Note 10 Pro
  • AMOLED screen
  • 178 grams only
  • Stereo speaker

Redmi Note 10 is almost identical to the more powerful Redmi Note 10 Pro. It sports the same design but uses a weaker Soc and also a smaller screen.

It is incredible that the Redmi Note 10 costs only RM699-799 but uses an AMOLED screen. This screen displays sharp and clear text.

Redmi Note 10’s Snapdragon 678 processor with 6GB RAM provides enough power for everyday activities, like social media, videos, and casual gaming. Moreover, it actually has better battery life than the Pro version because of the smaller screen and less powerful chipset.

In terms of camera performance, Redmi Note 10 is slightly poorer than Redmi Note 10 Pro. Despite that, the camera takes great photos under adequate lighting. There is a sufficient amount of detail in the photo, and the colour is natural.

The Redmi Note 10 is great for average users. It has a long battery life, beautiful AMOLED display, 6GB RAM, and is relatively light.


5. Redmi 9T

Best 6GB RAM Smartphone Under RM600

Alternative Budget Smartphone Under RM700: Redmi 9T

Best deal on Lazada Best deal on Shopee 

Redmi 9T Specifications:

  • Display – 6.53”, LCD, 400 nits
  • Chipset – Snapdragon 662
  • Memory – 6GB RAM
  • Storage – 128GB UFS 2.2
  • Back camera – 48MP,8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth
  • Front camera – 8MP
  • Battery – 6000mAh, Fast charge 18W
  • Weight – 198g

Reasons to buy:

  • 6000mAh battery
  • Dual Speakers
  • Semi-decent camera

The Redmi 9T is currently listed on Shopee and Lazada for RM599 to RM699. It is a good deal if you can grab one for less than RM600.

The Redmi 9T is good for daily usage with a big screen and large battery. You can watch Youtube on this phone continuously for 10 hours without any problem. Also, the 6GB RAM allows it to handle more apps simultaneously.

The camera performance is quite decent. The camera captures sharp and colorful photos when there is enough daylight outside. If you take a photo indoors, you lose a lot of sharpness and detail. Furthermore, it has an ultrawide camera which is convenient for capturing scenery and group photos.

With its big screen and long battery life, Redmi 9T is an excellent affordable smartphone which is great for children who need a smartphone for online courses. It is also ideal for the elderly who need a basic smartphone.


6. Poco M3

Alternative Budget Smartphone Under RM600

Best 6GB Smartphone Under RM700: Poco M3

Best deal on Lazada Best deal on Shopee 

Poco M3 Specifications:

  • Display – 6.53”, LCD, 400 nits
  • Chipset – Snapdragon 662
  • Memory – 4GB RAM
  • Storage – 128GB UFS 2.2
  • Back camera – 48MP, 2MP macro, 2MP depth
  • Front camera – 8MP
  • Battery – 6000mAh, Fast charge 18W
  • Weight – 198g

Reasons to buy:

  • Long battery life
  • Stereo Speakers

Poco M3 is the identical twin brother to Redmi 9T. But Poco M3 has only 4GB RAM and it also has no ultrawide camera.

The Poco M3 has a better design than the Redmi 9T. Poco M3 looks sleek and stylish, while Redmi 9T has the usual “Redmi” design which is shiny and glossy.

The specifications of both smartphones appear to be identical on paper. However, there are subtle differences which you can’t pick up by only referring to specifications. Check out the video comparison of Xiaomi Redmi 9T vs Poco M3 below.

The Poco M3 appears to have a slightly better display and audio.

Poco M3 is a good choice if you like its design and enjoy having a better screen. Otherwise, you should probably get the Redmi 9T as it has more RAM memory and an ultrawide camera.


7. Infinix Note 10

Best Punch Hole Display Budget Smartphone

Best Punch Hole Display Budget Smartphone: Infinix Note 10

Best deal on Lazada Best deal on Shopee 

Infinix Note 10 Specifications:

  • Display – 6.95”, LCD
  • Chipset – MediaTek Helio G85
  • Memory – 6GB RAM
  • Storage – 128GB 
  • Back camera – 48MP,2MP depth, 2MP monochrome
  • Front camera – 16MP
  • Battery – 5000mAh, Fast charge 18W
  • Weight – 205g

Reasons to buy:

  • 6.95” big LCD screen
  • Beautiful center punch hole display
  • 6GB RAM memory

The Infinix Note 10 is a huge phone that comes with a very large 6.95” screen. We used to call this type of phone as a  “phablet”. It is rare to see this phone size anymore. It can be a good alternative to a tablet.

The screen of the Infinix Note 10 has a center punch hole design and a resolution of 1080×2460. Watching movies and anime on this phone is a pleasant experience.

Furthermore, it is also one of the cheapest smartphones with 6GB RAM memory.

The main camera is 48MP with a 2MP depth and 2MP macro camera. Hence, it can take a portrait shot with a decent bokeh effect. The photo quality should be sufficient for normal users.

The Infinix Note 10 has a few downsides. It has a small battery of 5000mAh which is not quite adequate for a phone with such a large screen. 

And another obvious disadvantage is its XOS operating system. This is a common problem if you buy smartphones from smaller brands. You can’t expect them to update as often as brands like Samsung, Apple and Xiaomi.

The Infinix Note 10 is great for users who like big-screen phones for entertainment purposes. Do note that the display is slightly too dim to be used outdoors. For indoors, it is totally fine.


8. Redmi Note 9

Best Smartphone Under RM500

Best Smartphone Under RM500: Redmi Note 9

Best deal on Lazada Best deal on Shopee 

Redmi Note 9 Specifications:

  • Display – 6.53”, LCD
  • Chipset – MediaTek Helio G85
  • Memory – 3GB RAM
  • Storage – 64GB eMMC
  • Back camera – 48MP, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth
  • Front camera – 12MP
  • Battery – 5020mAh, Fast charge 18W
  • Weight – 199g

Reasons to buy:

  • Cheapest Helio G85 chipset smartphone
  • Very affordable, less than RM500
  • Ultrawide camera
  • Punch hole design albeit cheap price

I seldom recommend older generation smartphones. But smartphone technology has been pretty stagnant in the year 2020-2021. 

The Redmi Note 9 appears to be a really good value for money smartphone despite it already being released almost 1.5 years ago.

The Redmi Note 9 has a 6.53″ screen, quad-lens camera, 3GB RAM, 64GB storage, and a 5020mAh battery. Furthermore, the screen has a corner punch-hole design. 

The quad-lens camera includes both an ultrawide and a macro lens—making the Redmi Note 9 a convenient camera for all circumstances.

The specifications on this phone are still relevant and capable even though it was released such a long time ago. It easily trumps over any new Redmi or Realme budget smartphone .models

I am confident that the Redmi Note 9 is the best smartphone in Malaysia for under RM500. Some might say Redmi Note 9s and Redmi Note 9 Pro are better with Snapdragon 720G chipsets. Yes, they are better, however, they are also more expensive, so they are not worth buying. Instead, you could just purchase the Redmi Note 10 if you’re willing to spend more.


9. Realme Narzo 30A

Best Realme Budget Smartphone 

Best Realme Budget Smartphone : Realme Narzo 30A

Best deal on Lazada Best deal on Shopee 

Realme Narzo 30A Specifications:

  • Display – 6.5”, LCD, 470-570 nits
  • Chipset – MediaTek Helio G85
  • Memory – 4GB RAM
  • Storage – 64GB eMMC
  • Back camera – 13MP, 2MP monochrome
  • Front camera – 8MP
  • Battery – 6000mAh, Fast charge 18W
  • Weight – 205g

Reasons to buy:

  • Long lasting battery life
  • 4GB memory
  • Cost less than RM500

The Realme Narzo 30A is currently listed for RM599 in the official Shopee/Lazada store. You can get RM499 from a third party seller. Or you can wait for promotion day to grab deals on this Realme smartphone 

This Realme smartphone is a good entry-level smartphone with exceptionally long battery life. In a battery test run by ndtv.com, the battery can last up to 27 hours and 11 minutes for continuous video playback, which is amazing!

The photos taken by the Realme Narzo 30A are reasonably good with sufficient daylight and lighting. However, they lack details when you zoom in. Also, the phone does not have an ultrawide lens.

Realme Narzo 30A offers good overall performance for less than RM500. It is a good alternative to users who dislike MIUI or the Redmi design.


10. Redmi 9A

Best Cheap Smartphone Under RM350

Best Cheap Smartphone Under RM350: Redmi 9A

Best deal on Lazada Best deal on Shopee 

Redmi 9A Specifications:

  • Display – 6.53”, LCD, 400 nits
  • Chipset – MediaTek Helio G25
  • Memory – 2GB RAM
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC 5.1
  • Back camera – 13MP
  • Front camera – 5MP
  • Battery – 5000mAh, Fast charge 18W
  • Weight – 196g

Reasons to buy:

  • Less than RM350

If your budget is less than RM350, I would recommend you not to buy now but save up another RM150 and get the Redmi Note 9 later.

If you have a specific reason and really understand what you need, then the Redmi 9A is the best cheap smartphone for under RM350.

There’s no good reason to buy the Redmi 9A because it cuts corners at so many aspects which make it actually a loss to buy this phone as opposed to saving money. 

Redmi 9A is powered by MediaTek Helio G25 which is a very old and weak processor. 

Besides, it has only 2GB RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage. You will run out of storage space in no time and end up having to buy microSD cards. The money spent on a microSD card is better to be saved up to purchase a better smartphone like Redmi Note 9 as i suggested earlier.

Redmi 9A is a basic budget smartphone. You will have no problem with regular Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Instagram. The lack of storage space and low RAM can cause it to freeze and lag from time to time. It also can’t handle mobile games which are graphic intense.


Conclusion

From the list above, you can see that 8 out of 10 recommended budget smartphones are from Xiaomi (including POCO and Redmi). If you’re looking for cheap and affordable smartphones, sticking with the Xiaomi smartphones is a pretty safe choice.

Realme was a great budget smartphone choice when it first launched in Malaysia in 2018-2019. Now, they’re still selling at a very competitive price, but their specs are usually a little poorer than Redmi at the same price. I am eager to see Oppo/Realme release better phones to compete with Xiaomi in the future.

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Kai

Kai is a tech enthusiast staying in Kuala Lumpur. Techrakyat.com is where he reviews on the best gadgets, apps, life hacks, tips for save money and make money.
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Edward Lye
1 year ago

Any chance of a 2020 refresh? Realme C12 VS Oppo A31 VS Huawei Y6P VS Huawei 5YP for instance?

ah78
2 years ago

Bos, thanks for the review. Appreciate if you could add 1 more category… for under rm1300..

because I think that is when you got the best value vs price model (where most manufacturer create a strong mid-range offer)…

Bonus, you can add under rm2000 one but this one cannot be categories as budget…

remy
2 years ago

I had question for both Realmi C1 and Mi A2 Lite, can they move installed apps to external storage?

I had J2 Prime and it was good but lack of power with 1.5gb Ram and 16gb Rom. I also had Realmi Redmi 5 and it was nice but it worst… it can’t move installed apps to SD CARD.

Nathaniel
2 years ago

Hi eiraku, thanks for the review.

How does Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 compare to the “phones under RM700” category? Unlike the Max M2 model, Max Pro M1 offers superior battery capacity at 5000mAh, with SnapDragon 636 processor and 4GB RAM. Not sure why this model wasn’t included into the comparison.

eiraku
2 years ago
Reply to  Nathaniel

After heavy consideration, I decided to leave the model out because it’s more of a “last-gen” model vs most of the others in the comparison – lacking current-gen headline features like minimal bezels and later software patches on the Android Oreo base. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 was not included for the same reason, despite having relatively competitive specs.

Not to say they’re not good buys, however. It’s just that we’re trying to keep with the later releases due to the general mainstream populace having this “stigma” on less up to date models.