It’s almost half a year since I last did this so here it is again: the best smartphones that money can buy in Kenya right now.
1. Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Say what you may about Samsung but they have one hell of a device in the Galaxy Note 8. It is stylish, as beastly as its predecessors in the Galaxy Note lineup and, this time around, it won’t explode. How about that?
I liked the Galaxy Note 7 when I briefly interacted with it last year. I liked the Galaxy S8 when I had it for some time earlier in the year. I absolutely fell in love with the Galaxy Note 8 when I got to play with it last weekend. It’s the Galaxy S8, refined.
The device is expected to officially go on sale next month but some third parties have already shipped in the device and are selling it for as much as Kshs 115,000 as if the Kshs 105,000 recommended retail pricing is not high enough. Pre-orders for the device are open and you can be one of the first ones to get it at Safaricom shops (start here), Samsung’s own brand stores (start here), retailers like Tricom (this is how their supposedly working pre-order page looks like – pray for them), etc.
2. Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus
I spent some quality time with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and I loved it. However, my main quarrel with it was the battery life. Although I am never that far away from a socket (I don’t like carrying portable chargers), it’s always a good thing if the device I am using is able to catch up with my heavy internet-on-the-go use. It’s frustrating to have to put down the best camera that you have in favour of a mid-range smartphone’s or another on a November 2016 device simply because the former’s battery gave up long before you got halfway towards what you set out to do.
That is why I personally recommend the Samsung Galaxy S8+. It’s everything the S8 is but with an added hour (maybe two) of battery life. If you can manage to live with the awkwardly long display then you’re halfway towards getting one of the best smartphone experiences the mobile world has to offer. Since Samsung won’t hesitate to throw in a discount and some goodies your way, why not?
3. Huawei P10 Plus
This is the one phone that I have not used. I have just seen it in showrooms/shops. However, I have used its sibling, the Huawei P10, extensively over the last two months. The Huawei P10 is the best way to experience Huawei’s technological advancements. Sure, there will be much more to be said on that front when a phone I am eagerly awaiting, the Huawei Mate 10, launches next month but as far as things stand, this is it. The P10 Plus takes all that and makes it better.
With the P10 Plus, you get a much bigger (5.5-inch) display at a much higher resolution, Quad HD. That’s a huge contrast to the 5.1-inch full HD display one gets on the standard P10. The difference? About Kshs 10,000 damage to your wallet. I wouldn’t mind that if I had a loose Kshs 75,000 lying around but, well, life (insert sad emoji here)!
4. OnePlus 5
Best doesn’t always mean the most expensive, the impression you get when you look at the first three devices on this list. This is where OnePlus, a Chinese device brand dedicated to providing the best features on a smartphone without necessarily driving its target customers to the point of selling body parts.
The OnePlus 5 happens to be OnePlus’ latest device in the market. Since OnePlus has no official presence in the country, for its devices, we have to turn to Avechi Kenya, a longtime retailer of mobile devices targeting both the online masses as well as those who prefer brick and mortar in-store experiences before parting with their hard-earned cash.
The OnePlus 5 is unlikely to turn your head if you owned its predecessors, the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T but it makes perfect financial sense if you’re an Android geek on the loose or just after a good smartphone experience that is devoid of the blemishes Huawei, Samsung and other Android device makers introduce on top of the software that Google has gone to great lengths to make sure is as functional as it can be.
Through Avechi.com, one has a choice of either the 6GB RAM+64GB internal storage or the 8GB RAM+128GB onboard storage. They cost kshs 52,000 and 61,500 respectively.
5. Nokia 8
Nokia is back in the mobile device market. Or something like that since technically, it’s the Nokia brand at play thanks to some licensing deals signed between the old Nokia that we knew and HMD Global, the brand’s current custodians. The Nokia brand is not just back in the global phone market, it’s also back in Kenya!
However, Nokia has not started, yet, selling the Nokia 8, its latest and greatest smartphone, in Kenya. So, if you want a piece of the Nokia 8 pie, some non-official retailers are your best friends (even though it’s missing on their website, what the hell?). The device goes for just as much as you would pay for a base model OnePlus 5 so essentially it’s a choice of the two. Nokia, definitely, wins a brand identity contest any day. What is OnePlus? Outside our geek bubbles, it may be a tough sell, no matter how good the devices are, but Nokia has the advantage of riding on the coattails of its reputation which precedes it.