The TechPP Buying Guide is a section where we try to provide you with the best product and service options in certain price bands, relying more on common sense and our own experience than on benchmarks and spec sheets. The guide will be updated every month.
It is the price band in which most people buy their first smartphones. Not surprisingly, it is one of the most competitive as well, with dozens of models and brands. But which is the smartphone to go for if your budget is less than Rs 10,000 or approximately USD 150? Nimish Dubey and Akriti Rana try to figure out that one for you.
Before we get into the details, let’s have a look at the top smartphones competing in this category:
- Lenovo K6 Power
- Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
- Xiaomi Redmi Note 3
- Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime
- Moto G Turbo
- Asus Zenfone Max
- Micromax Canvas 6 Pro
- Xiaomi Redmi 3S
- Coolpad Mega 2.5D
- Asus Zenfone 2 Laser
- Moto E3 Power
Best camera phone under Rs 10,000: Moto G Turbo Edition
Let us be brutally honest here – if you are looking for top notch cameras in this price tag, you are likely to be disappointed. There are some very consistent performers here, though. In terms of sheer megapixels, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (Rs 9,999 for the 2 GB RAM edition) seems to have the edge with its 16.0-megapixel shooter, but in terms of image quality it is outgunned by its recently released successor, the Redmi Note 4 (Rs 9,999 for the 2 GB RAM edition) which has a much more consistent 13.0-megapixel rear shooter, and comes with a Snapdragon 625 processor which while not as powerful as the Snapdragon 650 processor on the Note 3 is supposed to be more adept at handling battery. However, if we had to pick a single device mainly for camera muscle, we would go with the Moto G Turbo Edition, which is currently retailing for Rs 9,999, and comes with a very swift 13.0-megapixel shooter that delivers good results in daylight and even manages a few decent shots in low light conditions. Some might be put off by the relatively old Snapdragon 615 processor and the relatively modest 2 GB RAM on the device, but we really believe the speed and performance of the camera compensate for that. Those chasing a laser focus can also consider the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser, which had a 13.0-megapixel rear camera with laser focus, but the device is a bit long in the tooth now, and we are not massive fans of Zen UI.
Best multimedia phone under Rs 10,000: Lenovo K6 Power
Easy peasy Apple Squeezie! This one goes to the Lenovo K6 Power (available for Rs 9,999). The phone packs a 5.0-inch full HD display and comes with excellent speakers with support for Dolby Atmos. Yes, there are a few full HD display devices in this price segment, but in terms of the whole sight and sound combination, we really think the K6 Power wins this segment hands down, and it packs in a decent 13.0-megapixel shooter too. A 4,000 mAh battery means it will not stop midway through your video watching sessions.
Best phone for gaming and multitasking under Rs 10,000: Micromax Canvas 6 Pro
This turns out to be a battle between the Lenovo K6 Power (available for Rs 9,999), which does have very good multimedia prowess – a good full HD display and great sound – which is a massive asset for the gaming experience, and is a dab hand at multi-tasking, and surprise, surprise, the Micromax Canvas 6 Pro, which has received a massive price cut and is available at Rs 9,999 at the time of writing. The Canvas 6 Pro might not have exactly set the markets on fire but it did pack in a very powerful MediaTek Helio X10 processor and a massive 4 GB of RAM, which is a rarity at this price point. The net result? We think that there might be better phones than the Canvas 6 Pro from an overall perspective in this price segment, but if it is pure gaming and multi-tasking that you need, then we would recommend it (it also has a very good 5.5-inch full HD display, so the viewing experience is very good too).
Yes, we know that some will wonder why the Moto G Turbo with its Snapdragon 615 chip does not make the cut and our rationale is simple – its 2 GB RAM and merely HD display hold it back. Another close contender is the Redmi Note 3, which has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor, but is held back by just 2 GB RAM, which we suspect cause lags to creep in when in heavy multitasking mode – the 3 GB RAM edition takes it above the Rs 10,000 band!
Best battery life on a phone under Rs 10,000: Asus ZenFone Max (2016)
There are a stack of phones out there with large batteries these days – the Xiaomitrio of the Redmi Note 3, Redmi 3S Prime and Redmi Note 4 have 4050, 4100 mAh and 4100 mAh batteries, respectively, and the Lenovo K6 Power sports a very powerful 4000 mAh battery too. But if it is sheer mAh value that you need then we would recommend the Asus ZenFone Max (2016), which comes with a massive 5000 mAh battery and is available for Rs 9,999, putting it in the “charge twice to get through a working week” category – the fact that it does not have a full HD display (it is a 5.5-inch 720p one) only increases its life. Fans of turbo charging will also love the Moto G Turbo Edition, which its available for Rs 9999, and although it does come with a rather smaller 2470 mAh battery, it supports Turbo Charging, which allows you it to get a few hours of usage from a quarter of an hour’s charge. There is also the Moto E3 Power, available for Rs 7,999, which comes with support for fast charging and a 3500 mAh battery and supports fast charging and is available for Rs 7,999 – once again a 720p display makes sure it goes a long way.
Best UI/Easy to use: Moto G Turbo Edition
We are going to vote for stock Android here and that means either the Moto G Turbo Edition (Rs 9,999), the Moto G Play (Rs 8,499) or the Moto E3 Power (Rs 7,999). Some might complain of the absence of the bells and whistles and the relatively modest specs (no full HD displays, 2 GB RAM, etc,), but in our books, the smoothness with which Android works on these devices more than compensates for any of these shortcomings. For those wanting some toppings on their Marshmallows (and Nougats, if they have received updates), there is the Redmi Note 3 (2 GB edition) and Redmi Note 4 (2 GB edition) at Rs 9,999 or the Redmi 3S Prime at Rs 8,999, both of which run Xiaomi’s very good MIUI interface – the former has a better processor (Snapdragon 650), camera (16.0-megapixels) and full HD display, but the latter has more RAM and a slightly bigger battery. Mind you, the Lite mode on MIUI is very elder-friendly (for those looking to gift a phone to their parents).
Best phone on a super-tight budget: Xiaomi Redmi 3S
What if you want the best possible phone for as little as possible, and do not even want to go all the way to Rs 9,999? Well, in that case, we think the battle would squarely be between the Xiaomi Redmi 3S and the Coolpad Mega 2.5D, both of which are available for Rs 6,999. The Coolpad Mega has a 5.5-inch HD 2.5D display and 3GB RAM and is powered by a MediaTek MT6735P processor, with 8.0-megapixel cameras on front and back, as well as a 2500 mAh battery. However, we think the Xiaomi Redmi 3S trumps it with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor, 13.0-megapixel rear shooter, and massive 4100 mAh battery, although it has only 2GB RAM. Also working in the Redmi 3S’ favor is the fact that it runs MIUI, which we think is one of the better Android UIs out there. Motorola fans? You can try the Moto E3 Power for Rs 7,999, but we do not think it is quite in the same league as these two.
Best smartphone under Rs 10,000. Period.: Lenovo K6 Power
For us, this is a battle between two phones – the Lenovo K6 Power and the recently released Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (2GB RAM edition). Both cost Rs 9,999, and both have full HD displays, although the Redmi Note 4 has a 5.5-inch one while the K6 Power has a 5.0-inch one. In terms of processing power, we think that the Redmi Note 4 has the slight edge, with its Snapdragon 625 processor (which is not as powerful as the Snapdragon 650 one seen on the Note 3 on paper, but is more adept at managing battery), but then the K6 Power comes with 3 GB RAM paired with its Snapdragon 430 processor, as compared to just 2GB RAM on the Note 4.
In terms of photography too, the Note 4 holds a slight edge, with a 13.0-megapixel rear camera as compared to the merely steady one on the K6 Power, but then the K6 Power has an 8.0-megapixel front facing camera as compared to the 5.0-megapixel one on the Note 3. Specs aside, the K6 Power takes better photos as compared to the Note 4. Both devices have large batteries – the Redmi Note 4 has a 4100 mAh battery while the K6 Power has a 4000 mAh one. Where we think the K6 Power pulls away from the Redmi Note 4, however, is in terms of design (it looks far better, especially the grey edition – the Note 4 has a dazzling black edition, but alas it is not available in India yet) and in multimedia, especially audio (it has dual speakers with support for Dolby Atmos, and also comes with Lenovo’s TheaterMax technology support for those willing to invest in an ANT VR headset). So, we are scoring this to the Lenovo K6 Power. By a very thin margin.