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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

Vivo V15 Pro is a midrange phone trying to redefine mobile photography

Can it actually replace a DSLR?

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Vivo launched a lot of phones last year, each having a unique feature like a pop-up camera or in-display fingerprint scanner. While the industry usually tried to avoid moving parts in a phone, Vivo turned it around into a feature. With the V15 Pro, the brand wants to establish supremacy in the midrange segment by offering flagship innovation at a competitive price.

The phone has been launched in India today and retails for INR 28,990 or roughly US$ 410. It is available via all major retailers and online sellers starting today.

On the front, the V15 Pro has a 6.4-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display. Thanks to the elimination of a notch, it has a 91.6 percent screen-to-body ratio and smaller bezels. The front camera is located in an elevating module that pops up automatically when required.

The rear gets a gradient design and a massive triple camera array. The array includes a 48-megapixel primary lens, 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. The primary sensor can capture an insane amount of detail and to improve performance further, four pixels can be merged into one, creating a 12-megapixel high-quality picture.

The elevating module houses a 32-megapixel selfie camera. Vivo has added a ton of new filters in the camera app and modes like AI Beauty, AI Portrait, and AI Super Night to ensure better output. For authentication, the phone uses a combination of face unlock and an in-display fingerprint scanner.

Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 675 processor coupled with 8GB of memory and 128GB of internal storage. It has a 3700mAh battery which supports Dual Engine fast charging. The V15 Pro also has a dedicated button to summon smart assistants like Google Assistant and Vivo’s Jovi.

Lastly, the phone ships with Android 9 Pie-based Funtouch OS and includes new features like Game Mode 5.0.

SEE ALSO: Vivo now has its own smartphone sub-brand named iQOO

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Google is under investigation for abusing Android

Dominating the market comes with a price

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Google has often been accused of monopolizing the smartphone market with the use of Android. While Android as an operating system is open source and anyone is free to make or use the system however they wish, Google’s push of its apps is a bigger problem.

Android is maintained by the search engine giant and the code is available for everyone’s use. But, Google pushes its range of apps in stock Android like Gmail, Maps, Play Music, YouTube, and more. Many accuse the company of forcing itself upon users and blocking the competition from a fair chance.

India’s Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been reviewing Google’s case for the last six months. The enforcement agency is currently at a preliminary stage and no official release has been made. Google, as well as CCI, have declined to comment.

The European Commission found Google guilty of dominating the market since 2011 and it’s abusing its standard practice of installing Google apps. The investigation led to a US$ 5 billion fine from the antitrust agency.

Google and CCI have met in recent months and the complaint was filled by a “group of individuals.” The agency has a track record of taking years to finish or conclude a case and we never know when a verdict might actually come.

Although, the CCI did impose a US$ 19 million fine on Google for “search bias” and abuse of its dominant position.

Android has a massive 85 percent market share and almost every Android phone ships with Google’s suite of apps. These apps, in return, help the search engine push ads to the user and generate revenue for the company.

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Xiaomi has become an undisputed leader by market share

Can Samsung turn the tides this year?

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For more than a year, Xiaomi has been leading the Indian smartphone market in terms of market share and there’s no stopping them. The brand has single-handedly managed to oust local brands like Micromax, and even experienced players like Samsung have taken a hit.

According to IDC, in Q4 2018, Xiaomi managed to grab an astounding 28.9 percent of the market, followed by Samsung at 18.7 percent. While Vivo and OPPO have managed to grab a decent 9.7 percent and 7.1 percent respectively, their rate of growth has slowed down considerably.

If we consider the complete year of 2018 against 2017, Vivo has managed to grow just 0.6 percent year-over-year and OPPO actually dipped by 0.3 percent. The report also says that online-focused brands drove the online channel share to an all-time high of 38.4 percent. On the other hand, offline sales registered a meager 6.7 percent growth.

During the last quarter of 2018, Realme managed to grab quite a huge chunk of the market with a share of 7.5 percent. The sub-brand of OPPO was launched just half a year back and has already released a wide array of phones.

The average selling price of phones continued to be in the budget segment at roughly US$ 158 (INR 11,000). More than half of the shipments belong in the US$ 100 to US$ 200 segment, and that’s where brands intend to lead.

In the end, Xiaomi shipped more than 40 million units in 2018, followed by Samsung with almost 32 million. Samsung had been relatively silent last year, but has now changed strategy with the M-series launch. The South Korean giant is focused on taking back the budget and midrange segments by reportedly launching a plethora of phones in the coming months.

Lastly, OnePlus has once again emerged as the leader in the premium segment, followed by Samsung and Apple in the super-premium segment.

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