India

Best Budget Smartphones in India below INR 15,000

Q3 2018 Edition

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Unlike developed markets, India’s maximum sales of smartphones happen under the INR 15,000 price slab. Hence, manufacturers have tried to offer as many options as possible to cater to the wide range of customers available.

Here we list the best smartphones in this segment, keeping in mind the requirements of every user — from phones that boast powerful batteries and can last really long to handsets that are made for photography enthusiasts!

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (INR 13,999)

Launched six months back, the Redmi Note 5 Pro has established itself as a perfect all-rounder. The device has an exceptionally high demand and is still being sold via flash sales in the country. The design is simple and elegant while the internals are solid. For the price, it offers everything a 2018 smartphone should; this includes dual cameras, a taller display, Face Unlock, and excellent battery life.

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1 (INR 10,999)

ASUS has been trying to crack the midrange segment for a few years now, and has finally managed to make a mark with this device. It sports a dual-camera setup, faster processor, and solid design, but what makes it stand apart is the software. ASUS has kept the Android experience untouched, making it more stable and guaranteeing long-term support.

OPPO Realme 1 (INR 10,990)

Realme is OPPO’s budget sub-brand that has been specially launched to take on Xiaomi’s rising market share in the country. While a majority of the phones out there are made of simple metal and look quite dull, the Realme 1 borrows the glass-metal design of the OPPO F7. The phone is sufficiently powerful and has a huge display. The top variant has 128GB internal storage, and yet, is priced cheaper than the competition.

Xiaomi Redmi Y2 (INR 9,999)

While the Redmi Note 5 Pro is the perfect midrange device out there, the Redmi Y2 is oriented towards the youth. It has a dual front camera setup along with a 6-inch display. For multimedia consumption, this is a very good choice. On the flip side though, it has a smaller battery, and due to high demand, is being sold via flash sales only.

Moto G6 Play (INR 11,999)

The Moto brand has been active in India for years and has established itself as a trusted name for durable devices. This device is quite under-powered when compared to the other picks, but its main selling point is software. The near-stock Android experience is fluid and stable. The company is also known for pushing out timely updates.

Honor 7C (INR 9,999)

The Honor 7C is a lot cheaper than most picks, yet packs everything one would require. It has a sleek metal body, dual cameras, Face Unlock, FullView display, and even a front flash. It runs on Huawei’s EMUI and has some nifty AI features, as well. While the battery is slightly smaller, it will get you through one full day on a single charge.

Nokia 5 (INR 12,999)

Yes, this phone is quite old, but that should be no reason to avoid it. In fact, it has a class-leading single-lens camera, stable software, and ultra-durable metal body. The phone continues the Nokia legacy and is perfect for those looking for a smaller display for easy single-handed use. This is the only device on our list that doesn’t sport an 18:9 display, but the strong battery makes up for it.

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Here’s why OPPO created a new brand called Realme

Will a new brand help them take back the budget segment?

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2018 has been one of the most intense years for smartphones with brands launching new phones every other month. In developing markets, the budget and midrange segments account for a majority of the sales, and in an attempt to establish supremacy, companies have pumped in all their resources.

The markets have reacted positively and sales are steadily rising thanks to improving standards of living, technological advancements, and aggressive competition among brands. Pricing is always the primary factor of differentiation and companies want to offer as much as they can, this means the profit margin is often meager.

Behemoth companies like Huawei want dominance in the high-end as well as the price-sensitive segment. But, it gets increasingly difficult to establish a brand image when you have products in all price brackets. With rising sales, Huawei could’ve been associated with budget phones, and this would make launching flagship phones a challenge, especially when they demand a premium.

To counter this brand recognition issue, Huawei launched the Honor brand a few years back. Honor is known to make feature-packed phones that belong in the price-sensitive bracket. Now, the Huawei brand targets the upscale flagship segment with the P and Mate series.

OPPO is trying to pursue a similar strategy with the Realme brand. Realme made its debut in May this year and has launched a handful of phones since then. Its marketing efforts purely target the budget and lower-midrange segment, as well as the youth.

Realme launched as a sub-brand of OPPO but has since parted ways from the parent in terms of management, product design, and operations. This means, even though OPPO owns and strategically helps out Realme by leveraging its supply chain and research, the brand takes its own independent decisions. Design elements and ColorOS are a few things that are being shared by the two brands for now.

This division enables OPPO to concentrate on its high-end flagship phones like the Find X and R17 Pro. OPPO has taken a massive beating in terms of brand recognition even after spending millions on marketing. According to IDC, sales in Q3 2018 have slumped by 2.1 percent year over year while Xiaomi and Huawei have clocked a staggering 21 percent and 32 percent growth, respectively.

The dip in sales is because of two reasons. Firstly, OPPO intends to concentrate on the high-end segment and not get their brand value saturated further. Secondly, it has slowly taken a step back from the budget segment and handed over the reins to Realme. Though, this doesn’t mean OPPO is out of the race; it continues to launch new budget phones, but it’s clear no intensive marketing efforts are being taken up.

Realme’s strategy has worked out positively in the short term and the company has registered a nine percent market share in India’s Diwali festive season. Realme has been targeting online-only sales for now and being a smaller company lets it be more dynamic.

The dynamic nature means it can make a wider range of products quickly, even strategically launching them to undermine the competition. While the brand was hastily launched in May, the recent branding change already matured and was built with a long-term plan in mind.

In the beginning, Realme seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to Xiaomi’s increasing dominance. We’ve seen the brand rapidly launch new phones in the last few months and they genuinely pack some unique offerings instead of just trying to undercut the competition based on pricing.

Only time will tell whether the division of segments among the two brands have paid off, but for now, it’s a strategy worth investing in.

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Snapdragon 632-powered Honor 8C goes official

A new processor and AI-powered cameras!

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Huawei has been on a roll this year globally with the launch of its P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro. While the brand is constantly striving to make a mark in the flagship segment, its sub-brand Honor too has been occupied in taking over the midrange and budget markets. Honor has been active in launching new products in the Indian market since a majority of the sales are in the price-sensitive bracket.

After teasing the phone for weeks, the brand has officially launched the Honor 8C today in India. The key highlight of the phone is its processor, the Snapdragon 632 SoC. This is the world’s first phone to be powered by the new chipset and Honor is relying on it to garner sales.

The phone is available in two configurations; the first one has 32GB storage and costs INR 11,999 (US$ 170), while the second one comes with 64GB storage and retails for INR 12,999 (US$ 185). It is available in Aurora Blue, Magic Night Black, Platinum Gold, and Nebula Purple. Sales start from December 10 exclusively from Amazon.in and HiHonor Store.

It comes with a 6.26-inch HD+ notched display that has a high screen-to-body ratio of 86.6 percent. The RAM remains constant at 4GB in both variants and storage is expandable via a microSD card.

On the rear is a 13- and 2-megapixel dual-camera setup while the front has an 8-megapixel selfie shooter along with a soft LED flash. Honor says it has integrated AI-backed image optimization in the camera app that is capable of recognizing over 500 scenarios in 22 different categories.

Powering these internals is a 4000mAh battery that supports faster charging via a 10W input. For authentication, the phone sports a fingerprint scanner on the rear.

The Honor 8C shall be competing against the recently launched Realme U1, Redmi Note 6 Pro, and Nokia 6.1 Plus.

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Realme U1 with 25MP front camera and Helio P70 launched

World’s first phone to be powered by this processor

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Image credit: Ershad Kaleebullah

Realme is a fairly new brand and has already launched a few phones in the Indian market. At inception, it was a sub-brand of OPPO but since then has parted ways from the parent and now operates as an independent phone maker. The previously launched Realme 1, Realme 2, and Realme 2 Pro have been significantly good in terms of features as well as sales.

Now, the brand has launched the Realme U1 and it continues the previous design language of the Realme 2 Pro. Not only does the phone bring a premium design to the midrange segment, but also touts to be the “world’s first smartphone” to sport the newly launched MediaTek Helio P70 chipset.

It is available in two options: The first one has 3GB RAM and 32GB storage and retails for INR 11,999 (US$ 170), while the second variant has 4GB RAM and 64GB storage and is marked at INR 14,4999 (US$ 205). Sales start from December 5 exclusively via Amazon.in for Ambitious Black, Brave Blue, and Fiery Gold color options.

Image credit: Ershad Kaleebullah

Sporting a 6.3-inch Full HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9, it has a waterdrop notch that increases the screen-to-body ratio to a whopping 90 percent. Underneath is the latest ColorOS skin on top of Android 8.1 Oreo.

On the back is a 13- and 2-megapixel dual-camera array while the front has a 25-megapixel single selfie shooter. The brand says it has incorporated AI Beauty+ in the camera app and can make changes according to Indian skin tones. The camera app further brings in Super Vivid 2.0 for accurate color saturation and automatic scene recognition.

Backing these internals is a 3500mAh battery, along with a fingerprint scanner on the back for quick authentication. The brand also announced Realme Buds that come with Kevlar-coated wires and retail for INR 499 (US$ 7).

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