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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.

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Motorola razr will soon come to India

Will mostly be an unlocked variant

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There’s no doubt that 2019 has been one of the most exciting years in consumer technology. For a long time, we’ve been fantasizing about foldable displays and many brands were in a race to be the first one to grab the spot. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold was unveiled some time back and is now available for purchase in many markets.

Lenovo-backed Motorola brand has been making affordable as well as midrange phones for quite some time. Now, it’s aiming for the premium market and their first product has revolutionary next-gen technology along with old-school nostalgia.

Resurrecting the razr lineup, the all-new phone comes with a retro, yet iconic, flip-phone design that incorporates a foldable display. It has two screens — one on the outside and one that bends on the inside. Once unfolded, you’ll see a 6.2-inch flexible OLED that can completely bend without a bump.

Around the same time as the announcement, Motorola’s Indian social media handle posted teasers of the razr, hinting at its possible arrival to India in near future. Those teasers now have been confirmed.

Motorola India’s website has a dedicated page for the phone where interested folks can register their interest. This confirms that it’ll be launching in the country soon. Additionally, this will also mean that interested users around the globe could have an opportunity to buy an unlocked variant of the phone.

Currently, razr is available exclusively via Verizon in the U.S. On the other hand, the Indian market consists of unlocked phones only.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold is the only foldable smartphone currently on sale in India and has sold out in each of the sales rather quickly. The razr could act as a slightly cheaper alternative for anyone specifically looking for a foldable option. The Fold is locally priced at INR 1,64,999 (US$ 2,290).

The global pricing is US$ 1,499 (INR 1,08,000), though we expect the launch price to be higher because of additional import duties and dynamic currency conversions.

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Realme skyrockets in India mobile market as Samsung falls

Xiaomi continues to hold its spot

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This year Xiaomi and Realme have been constantly fighting each other in the affordable phone segment. Each month we witnessed the launch of a new product, that always ended up killing the competitors previous offering. It’s a never-ending cycle.

However, the sales figures have proven that there’s still no clear winner in sight. According to IDC’s Q3 2019 report, Xiaomi continues to lead the market with a share of 27 percent, followed by Samsung at 18.9 percent. Realme is at the fourth spot with 14.3 percent, just below Vivo.

On the flipside, Realme has registered year-over-year growth of a whopping 400 percent, while Xiaomi grew at a modest 8.5 percent. Unfortunately, Samsung is having a hard time tackling the two younger brands and registered a fall of 8.5 percent.

The average selling price for a smartphone was INR 11,000 (US$ 159). Data also showed that phones under INR 15,000 (US$ 200) still account for 80 percent of the market. But, this segment saw its share drop by five percent on a yearly basis.

The Redmi 7A and Redmi Note 7 Pro were the highest shipped models in the complete market. Realme’s online sales were at 26.5 percent and its shipments were 6.7 million. This also means that number two, three and four smartphone players are closely matched in terms of shipments.

With more than 50 percent share, Apple remained the dominant player in the premium segment, which includes smartphones in the range of US$ 500 and more.

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Nokia branded smart TVs will soon be a thing

Coupled with JBL audio

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Nokia TVs are on the horizon.

India’s e-commerce giant Flipkart has announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Nokia to launch Nokia-branded Smart TVs. Flipkart will not only distribute the brand’s smart TVs but is also handling the manufacturing in India.

This will mark Nokia’s entry in an extremely crowded market where new players like OnePlus have just recently arrived. Xiaomi has also been doubling down with its wider range of products and incumbents like Samsung, LG, and Panasonic continue to command a huge share of the market.

A launch timeline hasn’t been revealed yet, but we do know the TVs will sport audio by JBL. Besides Nokia, Huawei’s Honor and Motorola recently launched smart TVs in the country.

The company is known for its research and patents in the telecom industry and continues to work on it. On the side, it has licensed the Nokia brand to third parties like HMD Global for smartphones.

Nokia stopped making phones long back, its hardware division was later acquired by Microsoft, and ultimately everything ended. Though, the brand lived, and the Finnish company was far from giving up.

Flipkart was acquired by Walmart sometime back and the platform intends to leverage its online reach in tier 2 and 3 towns. Besides, all the TVs will be assembled in India under the central government’s Make in India campaign. This will help them avoid import duty on finished products as well as enjoy the direct benefits of the scheme.

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