Top 3 Affordable and Little-Known Smartphones to Bring Home in 2022

Top 3 Affordable and Little-Known Smartphones to Bring Home in 2022

On top of Apple and Samsung, what do we have on the smartphone market?

Apple has remained at the center of the smartphone industry for years. The sleek, striking design, ever-improving chip and robust camera system of the iPhone have made it one of the most sought-after smartphones in the world. This month, Apple cemented and extended its lead in the industry by putting forward the next generation of iPhones.

While there is an animated discussion about the “Dynamic Island” (an exclusive industry-first feature introduced to iPhone 14 Pro models), some are troubled by the phone’s prohibitive price. Hence, more people are opting for alternative smartphones that are less popular and cheaper but equally powerful.

In case you’re ditching your old phones for something different but don’t know what’s available on the smartphone market at the moment, we’ve got you covered! We rounded up some typically unheard-of alternative smartphones that are worth checking out. Read on and save this article for later reference if necessary!

Nothing Phone (1)

Nothing Phone (1)
Image courtesy of Nothing Phone

If you have ever wanted a futuristic phone that makes you stand out in a crowd, Nothing Phone may be what you need. Nothing, a London-based technology company, launched Phone (1) as its first phone in July this year. Like many other smartphones, Phone (1) comes with an OLED display with a high refresh rate (up to 120Hz) and a dual-camera system, among other professional features. What differentiates the phone from the rest in the industry, however, is its futuristic design on the back.

Glyph interface, as Nothing calls it, is a set of five LED lighting strips that light up when receiving incoming phone calls and app notifications. Users can customize the lighting patterns and brightness for different contacts.

Nothing Phone (2)
Glyph pattern when receiving phone calls
Nothing Phone (3)
Glyph pattern when receiving app notifications

While the Glyph Interface may appear to be one of the most groundbreaking features we’ve ever seen on a smartphone, critics point out that it comes alongside drawbacks, such as reduced battery life and unnecessary distractions. That said, if these shortcomings do not concern you, Nothing Phone (1) is indeed worth watching out for.

Price: US$467.99 (8 GB RAM+ 128GB memory), US$497.93 (8GB RAM + 256GB memory), US$547.87 (12GB RAM + 256GB memory)

Light Phone II

Light Phone II
Image courtesy of Light

As smartphone companies continue to pack their phones with more advanced functions, we don’t realize how absorbed we are in our screens. If that describes you, you’ll surely be impressed by what Light Phone II has to offer.

Light Phone II is the latest model dropped by Light, a mobile phone start-up based in New York. Compared to Nothing Phone (1), Light Phone II adopts a way more minimalistic design on both the exterior and the interior. When you pick up the phone, you should first notice that it has no camera. It’s also not equipped with an OLED but an E ink display (similar to a Kindle).

Under the hood, Light Phone II is also architected without most functions we usually see on a smartphone—mailbox, internet browser and social media. That said, the phone is not designed to prevent users from getting in touch with others. It still allows users to text and call family and friends, at the very least.

For those who are so used to the capabilities most smartphones deliver, Light Phone II is undoubtedly an incompetent model. Meanwhile, it’s Light’s objective to create a minimalistic phone that people will use as little as possible to spare us from smartphone fatigue in the long run.

Price: US$299 (both North America and international models)

Doogee S98 Pro

Doogee S98 Pro
Image courtesy of Doogee

Given that smartphones house many delicate internal electronics, such as the system-on-a-chip (SoC)—an integrated circuit comprising a central processing unit (CPU)—graphics processing unit (GPU), display processor and more, you certainly want your phones to be water-resistant lest the water damage your phone’s interiors.

Enter rugged smartphones. As the name suggests, rugged smartphones are toughened phones specially designed to be waterproof, dustproof, drop-proof and shockproof. Thanks to the durable design, ruggedized phones can withstand harsh conditions on construction sites, extreme environments and more. Doogee S98 Pro, in particular, is wanted by many due to its outstanding damage-proof capabilities.

As a leading rugged phone model, S98 Pro carries a rating of IP68 for water resistance. In case you’re wondering, IP stands for International Protection Marking, which is an international rating system established to classify the level of dust/dirt (on a scale of 0 to 6; the first number) and water resistance (on a scale of 0 to 9K; the second number) of electronic gadgets. In this case, a rating of IP68 means this phone is dust-tight (full scores for dust resistance) and highly water-resistant.

Hands down, S98 Pro is safe to be carried around with its brilliant dust and water resistance performance. Meanwhile, if you’re not looking for a phone to dive into a pool confidently with (just kidding—leave your phone alone on the lounge chair, please!), the phone is also equipped with robust thermal imaging and night vision cameras, which allow you to capture your surroundings from a new perspective like a pro.

Price: USD$499.99

Honorable mention

Kyocera Rafre KYV40—a washable smartphone

Kyocera Rafre KYV40
Image courtesy of Kyocera Rafre

Sanitizing our belongings after going out in public has become our daily routine since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Our phones, in particular, deserve more attention because a study shows that coronavirus can live up to 28 days on smooth surfaces, such as phone screens.

Disinfecting your phones is more complicated than you think, given there are so many tiny holes and crevices. If you have ever thought, “I wish I could just wash my phone under the tap with soap,” you will love Rafre KYV40.

Kyocera Rafre, a Japanese smartphone company, heard our roar and put together a washable smartphone named Rafre KYV40. With IPX8 water resistance, Rafre KYV40 can withstand soapy water when being cleaned like its predecessor (2015’s Digno Rafre), making it the best smartphone for those who always want to keep their phones hygienic effortlessly.

Already checking where to buy yourself a Rafre KYV40? Alas, this model is available in Japan only. If that’s not where you live, make sure you come up with a method you’re comfortable with whenever you need to decontaminate your phones.

Price: USD$89.95

There you have our round-up of some of the best alternative smartphones! Though some of you may be excited to bring one home, you might have to pre-order and wait for the companies to restock their phones before you can hold one in your hand. At the time of writing this article, Nothing Phone (1) is out of stock and Light Phone II is open for pre-order. While waiting for the restocking, check out the companies’ official websites from time to time so that you can place your order once the phones become available again.

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Header image courtesy of Pexels


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