Best Mid-Range Smartphones of 2016

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What are flagship handsets? What are mid-range handsets and what are budget handsets? The line dividing these categories is getting ever so thin, with smartphones like Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and OnePlus 3 redefining their respective categories

The price range which had been ignored for a long time was the Rs 15 - Rs 20,000 category, which only had the OnePlus X as its flag bearer for quite some time.

But now things are different, with new launches by Lenovo and Asus and flagships getting discounts, this price range is hotter than ever. Smartphones in this category offer the best compromise between budget handsets below 15,000 and the premium flagships above 20,000.

Let's take a look back at the 5 best mid-range smartphones of 2016 (Between Rs 15 - Rs 20,000):

1/5 Lenovo Zuk Z2: Affordable powerhouse

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The body of the Lenovo Z2 Plus is made of fibre glass, which Lenovo claims is lighter and stronger than metal. The company also says the fibre glass body helps enhance cellular quality and provides for very efficient thermal management.

the Z2 Plus comes in two variants, one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage and one with 3GB of RAM and 32Gb of internal storage. Both units feature DDR4 RAM, which Lenovo claims is 2.61x faster than DDR3.

The smartphone features the Adreno 530 GPU, which offers 40% improved graphic performance than the Adreno 510 GPU and is more power efficient as well.

The smartphone features a 13MP rear camera with a sensor size of 1.44 microns. The rear camera also comes with PDAF and Electronic Image stabilisation.On the front, there's an 8MP camera with a sensor size of 1.4 microns.

The device runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box. and has a A fingerprint sensor integrated into the home button, which can be also used to perform several other gestures such as bringing up the app switcher and invoking Google Now.

The 32GB storage, 3GB RAM variant is available for RS 17,999 and the higher end variant with 64GB storage and 4GB RAM is available for RS 19,999.

Also read: Lenovo Z2 Plus: Everything you need to know 

2/5 LeEco LeMax 2: The overall package

The LeMax 2 recently saw a price cut from Rs 22,999 to Rs 17,999, making it a much better deal overall. The smartphone which faced tough competition from the likes of the Xiaomi Mi 5 and the Asus Zenfone 3 at that price range, now is a fantastic deal at under Rs 18k.

The LeEco Le Max 2 is an overhaul of the LeEco Le Max and features a similar all metal design, a quad-core 2.15 GHz Snapdragon 820 processor paired with an Adreno 530 GPU, 21+8 MP cameras, 32GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM.

The USP of the phone lies in it's 'revolutionary' CDLA audio technology, 5-7-inch 2K IPS display, 4GB RAM and the company's ecosystem-based LeEco membership program.

The lack of a headphone jack though might be a deal breaker for some.

Also read: LeEco LeMax 2 hands-on review 

3/5 Asus Zenfone 3 Laser: For photography enthusiasts!

The Zenfone 3 laser slots in at the bottom of Asus’s new Zenfone 3 lineup and is a direct successor to the Asus Zenfone 2.

Priced around 4,000 rupees cheaper than the lowest variant of the Zenfone 3, the Zenfone 3 laser’s distinguishing feature is its 13MP PixelMaster 3.0 rear camera with an aperture size of f/2.0.

As with the laser moniker, Asus claims the smartphone can focus on any object in less that 0.3 seconds. The camera also comes with a color correction sensor and electronic image stabilization.

The ZenFone 3 Laser comes with a 5.5-inch 1080p display, with a Qualcomm octa-core Snapdragon 430 64-bit Processor, 4GB of RAM, 32 GB of expandable storage and a 3,000mAh battery.

It comes with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow on board and supports 4G LTE as well as Dial-SIMs.

Also read: Asus Zenfone 3: First impressions 

4/5 Motorola Moto G4 Plus: Best budget option

The Moto G4 Plus is one of two variants of Motorola's fourth generation Moto G, the firm's bestselling smartphone range ever. In comparison to the regular Moto G4, the Moto G4 Plus features an improved 16MP rear camera with phase auto detection, laser autofocus and a dual LED Flash. It also comes with a fingerprint sensor.

The Moto G4 Plus features a fantastic 5.5-inch full HD (1920x1080 pixels) display, with a pixel density of 401ppi. This is the first time a Moto G smartphone has come with a full HD display.The display is also covered with Gorilla Glass 3 for protection.

The Moto G4 Plus is powered by a 1.5GHz octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor paired with a 550 MHz Adreno 405 GPU and either 2GB RAM + 16GB internal storage or 3GB RAM + 32GB internal storage. The internal memory can be expanded up to 200GB through a microSD card. It comes with a 3,000mAh battery unit with TurboCharging support that as per Motorola, delivers 6 hours of usage with just 15 minutes of charging.

At a starting price of Rs 13,499, the Moto G4 Plus is a compelling buy, and continues the G series of smartphone's tradition of providing good smartphones at an affordable price. It has a superb display, fast and accurate fingerprint sensor, stock android and performs admirably well. The only negative here are the mediocre cameras and underwhelming battery.

Also read: Moto G4 plus review

5/5 Want to be different? Try the Nextbit Robin

The Robin was born out of a crowdfunding project through Kickstarter by Nextbit, a company started by ex HTC and Google employees.

It has been marketed as a ‘cloud first’ smartphone where it uploads apps and images that you haven't opened in some time to the cloud automatically and retrieves the data back instantly when you open the app or image again. This works seamlessly and Nextbit gives you 100 gb of cloud data free with the purchase of every phone.

The phone itself comes with 32 gb of non-expandable built in memory, front facing stereo speakers, 13 mp rear camera with dual LED flash and laser auto autofocus and a 5mp front camera.

It is no slouch in the specs department touting a snapdragon 808 processor, 3 gb of ram, a 5.2 inch 1080p full HD screen and a 2680 mAh battery. It comes with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow skinned with Nextbit’s UI on top.

In a sea of phones made with glass and metal, it stands out with a rectangular polycarbonate body with a matte finish and bold colours. It is a good choice for someone who wants to try something different.

Also read: Nextit Robin review 

Shobhit Varma

Features Writer at NDTV Gadgets 360. Past - Sub Editor at India Today Tech, Content Writer at TechRadar India.
A PG diploma holder in English Journalism from IIMC, New Delhi. Avid tech enthusiast, cinema buff, voracious reader and Formula 1 fanatic.