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Smartphones to buy this season

The best Android smartphones across various budgets for the average buyer.

Written by Mihir Patkar | New Delhi |
May 25, 2014 12:58:43 am
The best Android smartphones across various budgets for the average buyer. The best Android smartphones across various budgets for the average buyer.

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 don’t always tell the full story — sometimes, the information is omitted, at other times, it is difficult to interpret the data given to you.

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 our selection of Android smartphones you can buy.

Around Rs 5,000
Karbonn A16
Available for: Rs 4,800 (approx)
There aren’t many smartphones at this price that come withan internal memory of 4 GB, 512MB RAM and a dual-core processor. The Karbonn A16 performs decently and even runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. But like any other handset in this budget, the camera is a let-down and the screen has terrible viewing angles.

Around Rs 7,000
Lava Xolo A600
Available for: Rs 7,000 (approx)
The Xolo A600 is quite a looker for its price. It is the only handset in this range whose screen does not suffer from bad viewing angles or poor touch response. The performance and camera is slightly better than the A16, but that’s not what you pay more for. You’re shelling out money for the stellar battery life, clocking in 18 hours of average use.

Motorola Moto E
Available for: Rs 7,000 (approx)
The Moto E has been creating a buzz. On paper, it is better than the options listed above — the 4.3-inch phone runs the latest Android Kitkat OS and is powered by a 1.4GHz dual-core processor. But like we said before, 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: Rs 9,800 (approx)
In the Rs 10,000 segment, the Spice Stellar Pinnacle Pro is a winner with its 16GB built-in memory. 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 use. However, it will start lagging if you are multi-tasking with too many apps.

Around Rs 12,000
Motorola Moto G
Available for: Rs 13,000 (approx)
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 version 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 internal memory is severely limiting. And the camera is only good for photos in bright light.

Around Rs 15,000
Xolo Q1100
Available for: Rs 14,000 (approx)
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. 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: Rs 15,000 (approx)
It’s been a good eight months since Micromax launched the Canvas 4, and we keep recommending the device for this price point. 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 the 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
Currently, 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.

Around Rs 20,000
Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
Available for: Rs 20,000 (approx)
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 the fact that the device is missing this 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.

Lenovo S860
Available for: Rs 20,000 (approx)
The Lenovo S860 can be a little big for many people, but its solid performance, metallic unibody design and capable camera make it a worthy purchase. The only issue we had with this was that the screen has poor sunlight legibility and viewing angles, as colours wash out when you look at it from an angle. But if you can live with that, you get the best battery life in a mid-range smartphone today as the S860 chugs on for over 22 hours of average use.

Around Rs 25,000
Gionee Elife E7
Available for: Rs 25,000 (approx)
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 downside for some. Still, we would recommend this over others.
Around Rs 30,000

Google Nexus 5 / Samsung Galaxy S4
Available for: Rs 30,000 (approx)
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? Do you like a physical Home button and touch keys or do you prefer virtual keys? 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
Buyer’s Choice
Congratulations, you have reached the level where specifications, performance cease to matter! 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 and the waterproof body of the Sony Xperia Z2 — these are things that you can decide on, 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 here are:
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Available for: Rs 35,000 (approx)
If you want a phone that easily fits in your hand, doesn’t come with 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: Rs 43,000 (approx)
The built-in stylus and Samsung’s customised software 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.

Mihir Patkar is a Mumbai-based tech journalist

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