A few years ago, getting a stock Android device inevitably meant investing in one of Google’s Nexus range, or perhaps making do with a Moto. Today, one is spoilt for choice with a number of brands offering the stock Android experience and that too at a relatively affordable price. So if you are looking for a slice of Android minus the toppings, here are five phones that will give you just that, even while costing less than Rs 20,000:
1. Xiaomi Mi A2 – for camera magic! – Rs 16,999
The latest addition to the stock Android bandwagon is Xiaomi’s Mi A2. The company launched the device recently in India and just like its predecessor (the Mi A1), it is part of the Android One initiative, which means Stock Android minus the MIUI skin. It sports a 5.99-inch full HD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio, runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 and has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB storage (non-expandable), along with a 3000 mAh battery that generally sees off a day of usage. But its USP is the camera setup – a 12 megapixel and 20-megapixel set up on the rear (both with large 1.75 aperture) and a 20-megapixel selfie camera which comes with AI support. The cameras are capable of delivering very good detail and color in decent lighting conditions, and portrait mode works brilliantly on front as well as rear cameras. Yes, we miss expandable memory and some might complain about the missing 3.5 mm audio jack, plus others might think Xiaomi has played safe with the design (taking a page out of the Note 5 Pro book and successfully avoiding a notch), but that said, the Mi A2 is a smooth performer in most conditions, making it one of the safest bets when it comes to a stock Android experience on a mid-segment device. And of course, being part of Android One means that it will get Android updates for a period of two years.
2. Nokia 6.1 Plus – for that notchy look and updated feeling – Rs 15,999
Nokia has been the flagbearer of Android One, with its brand of pure, clutter-free Android and very timely updates. And with its latest phone, the 6.1 Plus, the former smartphone top dog adds a lot of visual beauty to its stock Android substance. Oh, and it also adds a notch to the mix – the first Nokia device in India to come with one. It is a surprisingly compact device and comes with a very good 5.8-inch full HD+ tall display, and while the glass exterior is a very handsome one, its insides are impressive too. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor paired with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage, and on the rear is the 16 and 5-megapixel camera duo, while on the front is a 16-megapixel snapper, all of whom are decent performers. There’s also a 3060 mAh battery that keeps you going for a day easily. But of course, for us, the biggest attractions are the speedy updates and that extremely eye-catching design. Perhaps the best blend of style and substance in this list!
In a pond full of metal and plastic fish, the Moto G6 swims ahead on fins of glass. Although the Moto G6 is overall a very good device, one of the things that stands out about the phone is its ability to turn heads in what is otherwise a crowd as plain as the OS it runs. It sports a 5.7-inch full HD+ 18:9 aspect ratio display on the front, but what makes it shine (literally) is its glassy back, which gives it a very premium look. And it is no routine glass back – it makes light rays bend when they fall on it, making a wavy pattern. This, paired with an iconic camera unit that Moto is known for with a touch of Swiss watch like notches around its circumference, makes the device a dazzler. It does not do too badly on the specs front either – it runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 chip coupled with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage (expandable up to 128 GB using a dedicated microSD card slot), and a 3000 mAh battery with Turbo Charge. The phone comes with a 12 megapixel and a 5-megapixel sensor on the back and an 8-megapixel front camera, which tend to oversaturate a little but generally turn in a decent performance.
4. Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 – for the spec sheet – Rs 14,999
If numbers are what make you tick and your bank balance is on the slimmer side, then this is the stock Android choice for you. The Zenfone Max Pro M1 rocks a 5.99 inch full HD+ 18:9 aspect ratio display and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor and its latest variant comes with 6 GB RAM and 64 GB of storage (expandable to 2 TB using the dedicated micro SD card slot) as well as a massive 5000 mAh battery to support the big numbers. In the camera department, the device sports a dual camera set up comprising 16 megapixel and 5-megapixel sensors on the back and a 16-megapixel sensor on the front for selfies. While performance is a smooth ride on the Max Pro M1 even when pushed through high-end gaming, the cameras can be a little moody. But all said and done; this is perhaps the most powerfully specced device in this price segment. Yes, we know that hearing the words “Zenfone” and “stock Android” together might surprise some – after all, Asus’ ZenUI was one of the most cluttered UIs in the business – but the Zenfone Max Pro M1 has redeemed the company from its “skin-ny” misfortunes, and Asus has done a great job in delivering timely updates too.
5. Moto E5 Plus – for the marathon battery – Rs 11,999
Want your stock Android experience to just go on and on and on, undisturbed by charging issues? The Moto E5 Plus is pretty much all you are looking for in Stock Android. It inherits the Moto G6’s glassy good looks, and while some might turn up their noses at its spec sheet, everyone will be impressed by its massive 5000 mAh battery. The smartphone sports a 6-inch HD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio, is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 chipset, backed up by 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage (expandable), and comes with a 5.0-megapixel selfie camera. It is big and heavy and will require all hands on deck while using it, and while it will not set the world on fire with exceptional performance, it will smoothly sail through your daily tasks. And that battery (it can go up to three days of usage) might make you forget where you kept your trusty charger.