India

Best Budget Smartphones in India below INR 15,000 (Q1 2019)

The best of 2019 so far

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A couple of years back, excitement was at its epitome for flagship phones from companies like Samsung and LG. Now, things have changed completely and the most exciting segment is the budget range.

Competition has been aggressive in terms of pricing and features, hence every brand wants to distinguish itself. Top-tier offerings are now quickly trickling down to the budget range and the overall costs have drastically reduced.


It becomes a herculean task for a consumer to select a phone when so many options are available, so we’ve compiled a list of the best budget phones you can buy in India right now. We’ve considered various user demands like performance, battery life, cameras, and longevity.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro (INR 14,499)

This phone is practically a flagship in the Redmi series and has proven itself to be the perfect all-rounder one needs. Even though the processor remains unchanged from its predecessor, it still gets all tasks done smoothly and receives faster updates. The cameras have been lauded for their output in well-lit and low-light areas. Lastly, the battery is more than sufficient to get you through a full day on exceedingly heavy usage.

Nokia 6.1 Plus (INR 15,499)

Nokia-branded phones have made a reputation for themselves thanks to stock Android and on-time updates. If you’re looking for a phone with butter-smooth performance, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is built for you. The design is compact yet premium thanks to the sandwiched glass and metal body. In addition, the display is sharp and among the best in class, along with a pair of rear cameras that do a good job for a phone in this segment.

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2 (INR 12,999)

The ZenFone Max Pro M2 goes a step further in terms of performance and sports a proven midrange chipset along with pure Android. Its design is radically different and genuinely looks stunning. ASUS has gone all in and added a humongous battery that’ll get you through two days of heavy usage on a single charge. For a power user, there’s no better option than this. Even the cameras have seen considerable improvement and portrait shots are among the best. 

Realme U1 (INR 11,999)

For a brand this young, the Realme U1 has been a surprise for us all. It’s powered by a new processor and can seamlessly finish any task you throw at it. The phone has a plastic design that imitates glass, which makes it exceptionally light in weight. Selfie lovers are also going to be pleased with its front camera performance. It runs on OPPO’s ColorOS for a bunch of nifty tricks like gesture support and face unlock.

Honor 8X (INR 14,999)

If you’re looking for a huge display for media consumption, this phone is built for you. It’s powered by a midrange processor and comes with Honor’s GPU Turbo technology for an enhanced gaming experience. The battery will also get you through a day and a half on heavy usage with support for fast charging. It has an average pair of rear cameras, but the design is acutely premium.

Vivo V9 Pro (INR 15,000)

This phone brings a midrange design and processor to the budget range, making it a near perfect all-rounder. The cameras are above average and the battery is enough to get you through a day’s heavy usage. Performance-wise — and this is great for gaming — the phone has 6GB of RAM, which is among the highest in this segment. 

Motorola One Power (INR 14,999)

The name itself suggests this phone is built for “power” users. The processor is capable enough, but the main selling point is its huge battery. At 5000mAh, the phone will last for days on a single charge and it also supports faster charging. It runs on pure Android and hence we expect updates to roll out quickly, as well. The cherry on top is it’s officially splash resistant.

India

Realme X review: Bang for the buck

Very little compromises

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The Realme X is the phone that half of India has been talking about. The other half? They’re preoccupied by its competitor, Xiaomi’s Redmi K20, but that’s a topic for another day.

This phone from Realme is a lot of things. It’s the most premium smartphone they’ve made so far. There’s an OLED notchless 6.53” FullHD+ display, with a popup selfie cam tucked into the top frame. There’s also an in-display fingerprint sensor, a 48MP camera on the back, and more premium specs that are usually well out of this price range.


Gorgeous design

Despite its plastic back and frame, the Realme X is gorgeous. It’s not a small phone but it’s still pretty compact and comfortable enough to hold, though there’s no way you’ll be able to reach all corners of that gorgeous screen one-handed.

It comes also in two colors: Space Blue and Polar White, which is the same color as the limited Spider-Man edition we unboxed.

It’s one of the nicest displays in this price range, both outdoors and indoors. Because it’s an OLED screen, it boasts deep blacks with punchy saturated colors and as you’d expect, you can tweak it to be warmer or colder in the settings menu.

There is a bit of a chin but it’s not something that would bother anyone. It does help with an area to rest your thumb, with a slightly higher point to initiate those navigation gestures. So while it’s not truly bezel-less, it is still pretty darn gorgeous.

The back panel makes an S-shape reflection depending on how light hits it, similar to what we’ve seen on higher end OPPO phones. This little detail helps it look way more expensive a device than it actually is.

High end features for not much money

The Realme X an under-display optical fingerprint scanner. It works and it’s fast. The scanner is placed a comfortable distance above the bottom of the display, and there’s a “lift to activate” feature that works well enough that the sensor is always ready for you when you pick up the phone. The phone unlocks quick enough, so no complaints here.

It’s worth mentioning that you can also set up face unlock instead of the fingerprint scanning, but I would advise against this. It’s fast but that would mean the pop-up selfie camera will have to keep popping up. The screen lights up to help in dim conditions, and you can set it to require your eyes to be open for the phone to unlock.

The pop-up camera module used to be exclusive to more expensive smartphones so it’s refreshing to see this feature in a phone of this price range. The module pops up whenever you open the camera app or trigger face unlock, and it is promised to be good for at least 200,000 actuations. Realme says the selfie camera is covered with sapphire glass as well for better durability.

The entire module will automatically retract when a fall is detected or if it senses you’re trying to manually push it in. 

The Realme X has a much appreciated headphone jack, next to a USB-C port, a speaker grill for the loudspeaker, and a microphone. The down-firing speaker sounds decent but just as any phone with a similar placement you have to be careful not to block it when holding the phone. Sound output out of the headphone jack is also actually really, really good.

The Realme X is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710, and comes in either 4GB, 6GB, or 8GB RAM variants, with either 64GB or 128GB of storage. For those who need more than that, there is unfortunately no microSD card slot.

The Realme X runs OPPO’s latest ColorOS 6.0 on top of Android 9.0 Pie. There are a few pre-installed apps out of the box, but you can uninstall them all if you don’t need them.

ColorOS 6.0 is similar to a lot of other skins we’ve seen, with an ever-changing magazine-type lockscreen, that you can disable to a normal lockscreen instead. Unlike previous versions, it also has a much-appreciated app drawer. The split-screen multi-tasking also gets an update: you can now swipe in from the side, and hold to switch between your two recently opened apps, which is a cool new gesture.

Realme X’s 3765 mAh battery can survive a day’s worth of medium-to-heavy usage. It also supports 20W VOOC 3.0, which charges the phone up to 50 percent in 30 minutes, or full in about an hour and 20.

Pretty good cameras

The main camera of the Realme X gives you a bunch of shooting modes to choose from. There’s expert mode which is manual settings, as well as slo-mo, nightscape for low light shots, timelapse, and pano, for panoramic shots.

Nightscape works pretty well and is a long-exposure handheld mode for night photos, similar to Pixel’s Night Sight. 

The phone shoots photos at 12MP by default, but you can switch to 48MP in the settings menu. This will give you finer details, but I’d only advice doing this in good lighting.

There’s also AI scene recognition, which adjusts camera settings depending on what you’re taking a photo of — blue skies get bluer, plants and trees get greener.

Realme also gives you the option to toggle 2x zoom, but this essentially crops your photo since there’s no telephoto lens on the phone.

Another thing to note is the Chroma Boost toggle on one end of the viewfinder, next to flash and HDR settings. It’s an advanced HDR mode that takes a combination of images and offers further improvements in dynamic range and color reproduction.

Daytime photos taken with the Realme X can do no wrong, with a nice wide dynamic range, vivid colors, and high contrasts as well. Images retain a lot of detail, but I mostly left Chroma Boost and HDR modes switched off. The AI mode also does a good job detecting scenes and adjusting settings.

Take a look at these samples:

I wish I could say the same thing when it comes to low light performance. The phone tends to underexpose images every so often, but with nightscape, highlights and shadows become more manageable. This is, of course, understandable for a phone in this price range.

Portrait mode, however, is a different story. Realme X takes excellent portraits. Subject detection is one of the best in the price range, with subjects isolated with great precision, for very pleasing and impressive results overall.

Selfies taken on the Realme X are pretty good, although dimmer lighting results to a drop in sharpness and aggressive noise reduction. Even though the selfie camera has no depth sensor like the rear setup, it still does a good job isolating the subject and blurring the background. 

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Its competition includes the Vivo V15 Pro which has an ultrawide angle camera but costs more. And then there’s Xiaomi’s Redmi K20, but that phone has pros and cons of its own and is also priced a little higher than the Realme X. Realme also recently announced the Realme XT, which is equally equipped at the same price. 

There are a lot of reasons the Realme X is one of the most talked about phones this year — a really nice notch-less display, solid battery life, and good cameras. The USB-C and audio ports are definitely a plus, too. With very little compromises starting at INR 16,999, this is simply one of the best value-for-money phones you can buy today. 

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India

A government portal will let you find lost phones

Have you ever lost a phone?

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India is a very happening market for mobile phones right now. Every week we’ve seen a new phone launch in the country and every brand has flooded the markets with options. So far, there are no signs of a cooldown and a vast chunk of the population still hasn’t moved to a smartphone.

With hundreds of millions of phones around us, imagine how many phones would be lost every day. The government of India wants to make it easier for you to find a lost phone and is working on a new project.


Since 2017, the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has been working on the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR), a database for storing IMEI numbers. International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is a 15-digit unique number that identifies mobile devices. India has over a billion wireless subscribers.

Every device with a SIM slot has an IMEI number. In case of a dual SIM phone, each tray has a separate number. These are used to establish a unique identity and help to trace phones via a wireless connection.

Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will launch the web portal to report a theft in Maharashtra on Friday. If your mobile phone is stolen or lost, you will have to file a police report and inform DoT via helpline number 14422.

After the police complaint, DoT will blacklist the IMEI number which would result in the handset being blocked from accessing any mobile network in the future. For now, the project is having a pilot run in the state of Maharashtra and will be opened up to the rest of the country soon.

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Entertainment

OnePlus Music Festival: Everything you need to know

Featuring Katy Perry, Dua Lipa, and more

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OnePlus has a significant fan-following in India and the brand has successfully developed a devoted community. While launch events are usually reserved for the media to interact and cover the company’s offerings, OnePlus always lets its followers experience the unveiling live and passes are sold out within minutes.

The company has slowly forayed into the premium segment and intends to establish a brand name. OnePlus is hosting a music festival on November 16 in Mumbai and it’ll be headlined by pop stars Katy Perry and Dua Lipa.


Apart from Katy Perry and Dua Lipa, fans will be able to groove to the rhythm of diverse musical minds like Amit Trivedi, Ritviz, The Local Train and Aswekeepsearching.

More acts part of the music festival

Amit Trivedi has composed numerous hits for movies like Dev.D, Udta Punjab, and Queen. He is a familiar draw for those aware of mainstream Bollywood music. The Local Train is a rock band popularly known for their singles like “Aaoge tum kabhi” and “Choo lo”.

This is the first time OnePlus is hosting a music festival in the country. Previously at the OnePlus 6T launch event in Mumbai, the brand had artists like Brodha V and DJ Ishani performing live.

“We are super excited that Katy Perry will be starring in our first-ever OnePlus Music Festival in India! We decided to host this festival to share our passion for music with our community, who are at the heart of everything we do. With Katy on board, this is sure to be a one of a kind experience,” said Carl Pei, Co-Founder, OnePlus.

Tickets for the concert are on sale now via Paytm Insider. The price starts at INR 2,000 and OnePlus users can avail 10 percent cashback after authenticating their phone’s IMEI number.

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