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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Apple isn’t even trying to sell the new iPhones in India

The phones cost 50 percent more than the global pricing

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Apple launched the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR this week and we’re definitely excited to get our hands on them. The phones now make the edge-to-edge display and Face ID from last year’s iPhone X a standard feature. Display and battery size are the only differences between the XS and XS Max, while the XR is a slightly cheaper option that cuts corners for the camera and body.

The iPhone XS takes over the reign from iPhone X, and for the first time, Apple has discontinued the previous year’s iPhone. The iPhone XS costs the same as the X, starting at US$ 999 and the XS Max starts at US$ 1,099. The iPhone XR is quite cheaper, starting at US$ 749.

But while the prices listed above make sense for the American market, Apple has completely lost it in India. The iPhone XS starts at INR 99,900 (US$ 1,385) while the XS Max starts at INR 109,900 (US$ 1,525). The 512GB iPhone XS Max goes up all the way up to INR 144,900 (US$ 2,000). Fortunately, the original iPhone X hasn’t been totally discontinued yet; it will continue to sell until stocks last.

Let’s compare the pricing of the new iPhones with competing Android devices; Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 is priced at INR 67,900 (US$ 940), the Google Pixel 2 starts at INR 61,000 (US$ 845), the LG G7+ ThinQ costs INR 39,900 (US$ 550), and lastly, the OnePlus 6 starts at INR 34,999 (US$ 485).

The difference is huge, and to establish a smoke screen, Apple has cut down prices of the previous-generation iPhones like the 6S, 7, and 8. Even after the rates are slashed, a four-year-old iPhone 6S starts at INR 29,900 (US$ 415). Why would someone want to buy an iPhone when so many alternatives are available?

Apple has been showing off the dual-SIM feature of the new XS and XS Max, but in reality, this addition is definitely not convenient for the end user. Instead of providing an actual dual-SIM tray, Apple is using an eSIM for the other connection. In India, only two carriers, Airtel and Jio, support eSIM, and the process to acquire one is tedious and exceedingly vague.

For years the Cupertino-based company has been saying it’s serious about the Indian market and wants to play a bigger role. Yes, the market is huge and the demand has been on a steady uphill for years. But, one major thing Apple forgets is the market is developing, meaning a majority of the sales happen in the budget and midrange segments.

Why are the iPhone prices in India almost 50 percent higher than their American counterparts? Firstly because India levies 20 percent import duty on mobile phones. In addition, Apple only makes the iPhone SE and 6 in India; all other models are imported from China. Secondly, the Indian rupee has consistently been falling against the US dollar for the last few months.

But even after adjusting the import duty and a weak currency, the price leaves at least a 20 percent premium margin. Keep in mind that while the US$ 999 price in the US already has a premium margin, Apple wants even more from the Indian market. The most plausible reason being the company isn’t able to scale its operations in India, and hence wants to rely on a lower volume of sales that has a higher profit margin.

I could’ve accepted this strategy from a small or medium scale company that is new to the country, but a trillion-dollar behemoth like Apple should be ready to take a hit on the pocket in the beginning. If companies like Xiaomi and OnePlus can rule the game within a few quarters, it’s no rocket science for Apple.

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Moto G6 Plus has finally made its way to India

Too late to the game

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Motorola unveiled the sixth-generation G-series lineup way back in April. After slogging for months, they finally rolled out the Moto G6 and G6 Play in India. The top-tier Moto G6 Plus was delayed further and has eventually made its way to the country today.

The Moto G6 Plus is priced at INR 22,499 (US$ 310) and shall be available in Deep Indigo and Nimbus exclusively via Amazon.in and Moto Hub Stores.

India is a rapidly changing market; this year has already witnessed multiple smartphone launches on a weekly basis and companies are focused on the region more than ever. Xiaomi has already launched a wide array of phones, while others like ASUS and Realme are proactively working as well. When the market dictates such dynamics, it is surprising to see Motorola being so laid back.

When compared to its two siblings, the G6 Plus has a slightly larger display, more RAM, and a faster processor. It sports a 5.93-inch Full HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 18:9. The fingerprint scanner is located below the display and also supports face unlock.

Powering it is a Snapdragon 630 SoC along with 6GB RAM and 64GB internal storage that is expandable via a microSD card. On the rear sits a dual camera setup consisting of a 12-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor. On the front, it sports an 8-megapixel shooter for selfies along with a soft LED flash.

The camera app supports multiple photography modes ranging from spot color, portrait mode, and selective black and white, to landmark recognition and even Google Lens integration.

The G6 Plus is backed by a 3200mAh battery that supports Motorola’s TurboPower technology via a USB-C port. Android 8.0 Oreo runs of the box along with a few nifty UI add-ons.

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India

Vivo V11 Pro with an in-display fingerprint scanner launched

A repackaged X21 with better design

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Vivo was the first company to launch a phone with an in-display fingerprint scanner and is the only brand to sell phones with the feature in India. The midrange segment is very competitive right now thanks to offerings from Xiaomi, ASUS, and Nokia.

To differentiate its products from the rest, Vivo has launched the V11 Pro in India today. While many call it a close sibling of the X21, the V11 Pro packs a lot of new features like a much smaller water-droplet notch and a unique body.

The front now looks very futuristic thanks to thinner chin, higher screen-to-body ratio, and the addition of an infrared sensor for facial recognition. Thanks to the smaller notch, Vivo managed to pack a 6.4-inch FullView display with a 91.27 percent screen-to-body ratio.

The display also houses the fingerprint scanner, and the technology has improved a lot. The sensor is now fourth-generation and slightly faster than the X21’s.

The back has a vertical dual-camera setup — a 12-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor that are capable of shooting pictures with a bokeh effect. The front has a 25-megapixel sensor that produces AI-assisted pictures.

The V11 Pro is powered by a Snapdragon 660 SoC along with 6GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. Backing these internals is a 3400mAh battery that supports dual-engine fast charging. It runs on Android 8.1 Oreo-based Funtouch OS 4.5 that has added features like gesture navigation.

Vivo also launched the V11, which houses the same internals, but misses out an in-display fingerprint scanner. In many other international markets, the V11 Pro is also called simply the V11.

The phone is available for purchase via all major online and offline sellers for INR 25,990 (US$ 360). HDFC Bank is offering an INR 2,000 cashback when purchased using their credit or debit cards.

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