Smartphones You Need For Hybrid WFH Life

A basic user’s guide to the best mobile phones for your office & WFH arrangements.

By Chris Ong        8 March 2022

So, you might have returned to work at the office, or started on an alternating office and home work arrangement, or even be commencing on a whole new job altogether.

The one new thing that you most definitely need regardless of your work situation? A mobile phone.

Here’s a frills-free rundown of the pros and cons of the top 3 options (all 5G-enabled) for you to make the most of how and when you “toggle” between busting it at the official workplace, busying at your “home office” and/or bussing between the two.

Samsung S21 FE 5G (Fan Edition)

Long-time users of Samsung phones will be glad to know that this is the Fan Edition, succeeding the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G model of 2020.

What that means is that it is an affordable “fan-inspired” (as in supporters, not the folding or rotating device for cooling you down) budget version of the Korean brand’s flagship S21 models, built with same or similar high-end specifications and retaining the most popular features of the Galaxy S series. Translated: Great performance and value for money.

The Pros:

  • Comes in 4 soft and pleasant colours – white, olive, lavender and graphite – with a semi-translucent plastic rear with a matte finishing. Great for the style conscious who want smudge-resistant low-key options that pair easily with whatever work outfit they are dressed in, be it slouchy joggers or pressed pants.
  • Has an IP68 water resistance rating (that means it can withstand submersion up to a maximum depth of 1.5 metres underwater for up to 30 minutes). Much more than good enough to handle your accidental morning coffee splashes when on the run.
  • Its screen is constructed out of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, the “toughest glass on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone”. Also much more than good enough to handle your accidental drops when on the said run to work.
  • A 6.4 inch display with a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels (same as the higher S21 and S21+ models) and a refresh rate of 120Hz, makes all your work content gorgeous enough to look at while you’re sleepy-eyed in the morning.
  • A 32-megapixel (MP) front-facing selfie camera; and at its rear, a 12MP Ultra Wide camera, a 12 MP Wide-angle camera and an 8MP telephoto camera. So many ways to snap that document or to click a pic to show that you are working like a boss, to your boss. The 30X Space Zoom feature lets you snoop on everyone else at the workplace (even the boss) from a safe distance of 1 metre or 10.

The Cons:

  • There’s no microSD card slot, so there isn’t any expandable storage. Not so good if you are the kind who has to juggle with loads of work content on your phone.
  • It also doesn’t come with a power adapter or earphones, which means you need to fork out more moolah for these essentials

Visit here for all the specs, details and recommended retail price (RRP) of the Samsung S21 FE 5G (Fan Edition).

BONUS: SAFRA members can get Samsung S21 FE 256GB from $0 when they sign up or re-contract on Plan with Device at $50/month with M1. For members keen on the brand new Samsung Galaxy S22 series, tap here for M1 deals.

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Okay, it’s near impossible not to mention Apple’s iPhones when talking about cellular devices today. And since we are on the topic of smartphones, we might as well go “pro” or go home.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is the Apple’s premium flagship that will put a nice hole in your pocket, even while filling it up handsomely with its size and features. Just think of it as the pricier iPhone 13 Pro but upsized with a larger 6.7-inch display (the humbler Pro comes in at 6.1 inch).

The Pros:

  • Naturally, it’s got to be the design. Flat-edged, surgical-grade stainless steel enclosure (only for the iPhone 13 Pro models) and fitted with the Ceramic Shield glass on the front; it’s all about minimalistic finesse. Watch your colleagues go jelly when you flaunt this.
  • There are 4 classic colours to pick from: graphite, gold, silver and sierra blue. All cool, all classy, all office appropriate.
  • Its IP68 water resistance rating (the highest grade) makes this your hardy companion through dust, rain and spills when travelling to-and-fro between home and office.
  • Powered by the A15 Bionic processor, Apple’s fastest and most efficient chip for a smartphone system, expect to execute multiple tasks – emailing, WhatsApping, Instagram “Reeling” (for research purposes, of course) – faster and smoother.
  • The larger Super Retina XDR display with adaptive ProMotion 120Hz refresh rate renders your work-related images and videos brighter and sharper, and thus, easier and nicer to view.
  • It reportedly has the highest battery life amongst current iPhone models, possibly up to 48 hours, with casual-to-heavy usage. Perfect for when you have to work OT sans charger.
  • It sports three 12MP cameras, including a 3x optical zoom Telephoto camera and an Ultra Wide camera, and is packed with loads of fancy features like a Cinematic mode and Photographic Styles option. Plus, you can record and edit video presentation-ready projects in ProRes, entirely on this one device. Superb for those who do lots of photo or video work on the go.

The Cons:

  • This heavyweight comes in at 240 grams. That’s like, almost a quarter of a kilogram. Not very nifty for when you are on the move.
  • The not-so-affordable price; a brand new set can set you back by a close-to-2K figure. Your work (or play) must be that important.
  • It does not come with an iPhone charger and EarPods. So yes, you gotta buy them elsewhere or else you’ve got an expensive paper weight for your work desk.
  • There’s no fingerprint sensor so there’s less ease of use and access.

Click here for all the specs, details and RRP of the iPhone 13 Pro Max. And, you can pick one up (128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1024GB) from Singtel

Xiaomi 11T Pro (5G)

This Chinese tech giant has got so many types of phones, released under separate sub-brands, at all kinds of price points and for different purposes, that it can either spoil you silly or make your head spin.

There are ones under its main flagship Xiaomi brand (formerly known as Mi), the budget Redmi, mid-range POCO and the made-for-gaming Black Shark, so you know you’ve got options aplenty.

The model to try if you just want an Android phone that ticks all the boxes for work? The Xiaomi 11T Pro, a more affordable but possibly better version of the 2021 flagship Xiaomi Mi 11 (before the Mi brand got rebranded as Xiaomi).

The Pros:

  • In a nutshell, it’s got almost similar, if not the same, design and specs as the flagship Xiaomi Mi 11, including the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G chipset, colour scheme (gray, white and blue) and triple-camera array. Plus, it comes with Dolby Atmos support and SOUND BY Harman Kardon. Meaning it boasts premium-level looks, audio and performance for a cheaper price.
  • The phone’s 120W Xiaomi HyperCharge tech enables it to be juiced up fully within 17 minutes if you use the in-box wired charger. Awesomely fast for when you’re busy rushing or need it urgently for work calls and meetings.
  • You might like the brand’s own MIUI operating software, just as an alternative or that it makes a friendlier interface for your use.
  • It comes with a fingerprint sensor for better security and fast access without the need of taking your face mask off.

The Cons:

  • Appearance-wise, it might be too basic for lifestyle users. Looks like a smartphone, works like a work-competent smartphone.
  • If images and visuals are a chief concern, the phone’s ultra-wide and selfie cameras are of a lower-res (8MP and 16MP respectively) and the 120Hz AMOLED panel display is just a tad smaller (6.67 inch) with a lower resolution (2400 x 1080 pixels) compared to the Mi 11. But, this is just for comparison’s sake between a higher-end model and its lower-priced-but-newer take.
  • Some reviewers have noted overheating issues, so multi-taskers might not want to run so many Microsoft Office and Google Workspace apps simultaneously or do anything power-intensive for extensive periods of time.
  • You might not quite take to the MIUI system (it can be less clean and smooth), but that depends entirely on how you go about sorting your professional tasks on a phone.

Click here for all the specs, details and RRP of the Xiaomi 11T Pro (5G). And, check out the 256GB set from Starhub