It’s difficult to buy an Android phone. There is a wide range of models with different prices and features, which makes it hard to distinguish one from the other. Specifications also don’t always tell the full story—sometimes, the information is represented, sometimes it’s omitted, and sometimes it is difficult to interpret.
But you still need to buy an Android smartphone, so what do you do? Over the past few months, we have tested several of these handsets. We’ve been unhappy with many, we’ve been elated with a few. This is The Indian Express‘s selection of Android smartphones you can buy, which we have personally used. And for fairness, where a good alternative exists which we haven’t tested, we will make a note.
Around Rs. 5,000
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Available for: Around Rs. 4,800
There aren’t many smartphones at this price which come with 4GB of internal memory, 512MB RAM and a dual-core processor. The Karbonn A16 has decent performance and even runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. But like any handset in this budget, the camera is a let-down and the screen has terrible viewing angles.
Karbonn Titanium S1 Plus
Available for: Rs. 6,000
We haven’t yet tried the Karbonn Titanium S1 Plus, but on paper, this handset has got a lot going for it. It’s got a quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, and the same screen, camera and memory as the A16.
Around Rs. 7,000
Lava Xolo A600
Available for: Around Rs. 7,000
The Xolo A600 is quite a looker for its price and it is the only handset we have used in this range whose screen does not suffer from bad viewing angles or poor touch response. The performance and camera are slightly better than the A16, but that’s not what you pay more for. What you do pay more for is the stellar battery life, clocking in 18 hours of average use.
Motorola Moto E
Available for: Around Rs. 7,000
We haven’t yet finished our review of the Moto E, but it’s coming soon. We will update this article when we do. The Moto E is better on paper than the above options, but like we already said, what you see on paper and what you actually get isn’t always the same.
Around Rs. 10,000
Spice Stellar Pinnacle Pro Mi-535
Available for: Around Rs. 9,800
In the Rs. 10,000 segment, the Spice Stellar Pinnacle Pro is a winner with its 16GB of built-in memory, and internal memory below 8GB is something you shouldn’t compromise on at this price. The camera, although 8MP, isn’t going to give you fantastic shots in anything but bright daylight and the performance is good enough for regular usage, but it will start lagging if are multi-tasking with too many apps.
Around Rs. 12,000
Motorola Moto G
Available for: Around Rs. 13,000
The Moto G is a fantastic phone for those who want great features without spending too much. The best-in-class screen, great battery life (around 16 hours of average usage), and the latest flavour of Android with assured updates makes it a must-have. But you should know that it’s not ideal if you want a phone for gaming—the 8GB of internal memory is severely limiting. And the camera is only good for photos in bright light.
Around Rs. 15,000
Available for: Around Rs. 14,000
The Xolo Q1100’s big advantage over the Moto G is that it has expandable memory and the camera is far superior, especially in low-light performance. The battery leaves a lot to be desired at 12 hours of usage, and the screen is a scratch and fingerprint magnet. Still, for this price, it’s among your better options.
Micromax Canvas 4 A210
Available for: Around Rs. 15,000
It’s been a good 8 months since Micromax launched the Canvas 4 but we still keep going back to it as our recommended choice at this price. Why? It’s got Gorilla Glass, it’s got 16GB of internal memory, it has great performance, and it will last for 14-15 hours before you need to recharge it. Forget the HD vs. FullHD battle, these are the things that matter more in daily usage. Unless camera is more important, in which case you should opt for the Xolo Q1100, the Canvas 4 is still your best choice in this range.
Around Rs. 18,000
Right now, there is nothing in the Rs. 15,000-Rs. 20,000 range that is worth your money. You would be better served by a Canvas 4 at Rs. 15,000 or spending Rs. 20,000 and above. The only alternative in this range is the Xolo Q3000, which is a wonderful smartphone in all aspects except for the lack of scratch-resistant glass protection for its screen. At this price, that’s a deal-breaker for us. But to be fair, we haven’t tried that phone.
Around Rs. 20,000
Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
Available for: Around Rs. 20,000
The Galaxy Grand 2 does not have Gorilla Glass or any other scratch protection mentioned in its specifications either. Yet, it managed to come out scratch-free in our tests, which is what makes us comfortable in recommending it despite that missing feature. The camera and multimedia performance are fantastic, the battery life is excellent (around 16 hours), and the screen is vibrant and a pleasure to see or interact with—its only flaw is poor legibility under direct sunlight.
Available for: Around Rs. 20,000
The Lenovo S860 is better on paper than the above options, but like we already said, what you see on paper and what you actually get isn’t always the same.
Around Rs. 25,000
Gionee Elife E7
Available for: Around Rs. 25,000
The Gionee Elife E7 costs Rs. 25,000 for the version with 16GB memory and 2GB RAM, and requires an additional Rs. 3,000 for 32GB memory and 3GB RAM. If 16GB is going to be enough for you, the Elife E7 is by far the best smartphone for your money in this range. The camera blows away all competitors, the screen is gorgeous, and despite its size, it is surprisingly light and easy to hold. The battery life clocks in at 14 hours of average usage, which is perhaps its only down side for some. Still, we would recommend this over others.
Around Rs. 30,000
Google Nexus 5 / Samsung Galaxy S4
Available for: Around Rs. 30,000
There is little to separate the Google Nexus 5 from the Samsung Galaxy S4 and it boils down to personal choices. Do you want a pure Android experience or do you want Samsung’s TouchWiz and smart add-ons? Which phone’s feel do you like more? Do you like a physical Home button and touch keys or prefer virtual keys? There are merits and demerits to both, but there isn’t enough to strongly recommend one phone over the other. So with that in mind, go to a store, try out both phones, and pick the one you like more.
Above Rs. 30,000
Congratulations, you have reached the level where specifications, performance and other things stop mattering. For most average buyers, the differences in Android smartphones at this range are not going to be noticed. The slight bump an HTC One gives you in low-light performance compared with the slightly better screen of the LG G2 compared with the waterproof body of the Sony Xperia Z2—these are things that you can decide based on what you care about. Again, go to a store, try out the handset, see which design and features appeal to you, and buy what you like; there’s no real reason to listen to us supposed experts here, you’ll be happy with whatever you buy.
The only two significantly different phones in this range that deserve a mention are:
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Available for: Around Rs. 35,000
If you want a phone that easily fits in your hand, doesn’t have a gargantuan screen, but still performs as well as any of the top-end devices, the Xperia Z1 Compact is the way to go.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Available for: Around Rs. 43,000
The built-in stylus and Samsung’s customized software for it makes the Note 3 stand out as the only tablet which really makes maximum use of its oversized screen. If a big-screen device is what you want, then buy the Note 3 over any other.