If you’re like most people your phone is one of the most important devices that you own. A phone can make the difference between a good or bad experience in The Philippines. That’s why your phone choice is important to avoid expensive mistakes. I’ve had a few phones here and some are definitely better than others. While of course the answer of the best phones for foreigners in The Philippines depends on many factors including your budget and needs there are some choices I recommend you checking out.
Why to Avoid World Phones
I thought I had it covered when I bought a ‘world’ phone in the states. I read the description and was assured it would work anywhere in the world. While it does work here in The Philippines the quality of service isn’t the same. It often drops the 4G signal here and defaults to ‘edge’ service. The one exception is the iPhone. Those things truly work anywhere and now that they’ve gone down in a price you can get one phone and bring it anywhere in the world. You can check out some of the latest iPhone models on amazon.com. But still expect to spend over US$800 on a late-model iPhone.
The Best Phones in The Philippines for Foreigners
Best Camera Phones-OPPO
If you are into pictures than OPPO is going to be your best bet. Insofar as value is concerned the Chinese phone manufacturer pumps out some of the best camera phones for your buck. Prices range from $100 for a base model to $500 for their flagship models.
Best Overall Phones-Xiaomi
Xiaomi is another Chinese manufacturer and their phones are comparable to Samsung but at a much cheaper price. Their prices range from about $120 for their Redmi 6A base model phone to $570 for their flagship phone the Mi 8. These can only be purchased online in web stores such as Lazada.com.
Fun Facts About Phone Service in The Philippines
- All mobile numbers begin with “9″
- In order to dial long distance you must first dial “0”
- The Philippines country code is “63”
- The country has some of the worst 4G cell phone service in the world
Cell Phone Providers in The Philippines
Don’t be fooled by some of the other websites and various marketing gimmicks. Your choices of cell phone carriers are SMART and GLOBE–that’s it! They have different brands such as TM (Touch Mobile) and ABS-CBN mobile under Globe and TNT (Talk n’ Text) and Sun Cellular under Smart but in the end it’s just Globe and Smart. The Australian company, TELSTA, tried to create a third choice in The Philippines but was blocked by the prevailing interests in the country.
Which member of the duopoly is better depends on where you are. In Metro Manila Smart is the carrier of choice while people in the provinces tend to prefer globe. However, most people avoid this choice by simply buying a dual-sim phone.
Pre-Paid vs Post Paid
Almost everyone here uses pre-paid sim cards. If you live under a rock that just means you pay for your minutes, texts, and data in advance. This is referred to as a ‘load’. If you’re chatting with Filipinas online chances are good you’ll be asked to buy a load for her more than once.
Postpaid is generally not accepted by foreigners because you’ll need to sign a contract and have multiple ID’s ready. Normally, the requirements are: proof of identity (birth certificate, passport), proof of income (e.g., certificate of employment), and proof of billing (e.g., electricity bill named after you)In addition, the phone they give you will be ‘locked’ meaning you can only use it with that particular provider. It’s just not worth it. With pre-paid you simply pay and walk away.
How much it costs depends on your usage. I spent about $20 (P1000) a month on my pre-paid phone costs. The best way to keep your costs down is to get a promotion (promo) plan. You do this by texting a promo code to a predetermined number. Promos include various talk times, text messages, and various amounts of data. Many promos give you unlimited texts and minutes to other network users (another reason to have two sims). Smart tends to have better promos than Globe but Globe supposedly has a larger 4G network.
In order to partake in a promo for Smart you simply text <Promo Name> to 9999. For Globe you text <Promo Name> to 8080.
Best SMART Promos
- 8GB Mobile data
- 1GB/day of Video Every Day for YouTube, iFlix, iWant TV, NBA League Pass, Cignal TV
- Unli texts to all networks
- Unli calls to Smart/TNT/Sun
- Costs 640php
Best GLOBE Promos
- 710 minutes calls to Globe/TM
- Unli texts to Globe/TM
- 10 MB for Facebook
- Valid for 30 days
- Costs 500php
- 1GB Mobile data
- Free 2GB Data for GoWatch and GoPlay (YouTube, Mobile Legends, Arena of Valor, etc.)
- Unli texts to all networks
- Valid for 7 days
- Costs 500php