2016 has seen the mobile landscape undergo a drastic shift with companies like LeEco, Motorola, OnePlus, Xiaomi and Asus redefining the definition of budget devices.
Smartphones under Rs 15,000 these days are not full of compromises, poor cameras and sluggish performance. In fact, devices in this price range are becoming more than capable of giving a fight to the flagships of the world.
Let’s take a look back at the 5 best smartphones of 2016 under Rs 15,000:
(Note: We have only considered devices which cost between Rs 10-15,000 for this comparison)
1/5 Moto G4 Plus: Best of the best
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: Motorola Moto G4 Plus review
2/5 Redmi Note 3: Best value for money
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 the successor of the popular Redmi Note 2 and is available at a price of Rs 9,999 for 16GB + 2GB variant and Rs 11,999 for the 32GB + 3GB RAM variant.
The Redmi Note 3 comes with an all-metal design, a 5.5-inch Full HD (1920x1080) display and a hexa-core Snapdragon 650 processor. The 16GB variant comes with 2GB of RAM and a 4,000mAh battery unit, while the 32GB variant has 3GB of RAM and comes with a slightly larger 4,050mAh battery unit. Both variants come with QuickCharging support.
The Redmi Note 3 was Xiaomi's first ever handset to pack a fingerprint scanner, which is placed right below the camera sensor. On the imaging front, the device has a 16MP rear camera with a dual LED flash and a 5MP front shooter.
The device runs on Xiaomi’s own MIUI7 running atop Android 5.1 Lollipop.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note has held the title of best budget smartphone in our books for quite some time now and even a few months after it’s launch, it can hold its own against the competition easily.
Also read: Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 review
3/5 LeEco Le2: Best content ecosystem
The LeEco Le 2 is a overhaul of the LeEco Le1s and features a similar all metal design, an octa-core 1.8 GHz Snapdragon 652 processor, 16+8 MP cameras, 32GB of internal storage and 3GB of RAM. The Le 2 will be the first smartphone in India to come with the Snapdragon 652 SoC.
The smartphone has a 5.5-inch, full HD IPS display with a pixel density of 403 PPI. It also has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for scratch resistance.
The Le 2 looks identical to it's predecessor, with a full metal unibody design that looks and feels very premium. The build quality is fantastic, with no creaks or rattles. The design and build of the device are one of it's highlights and can easily rival any high-end smartphone.
The USP of the phone lies in it's 'revolutionary' CDLA audio technology and the company's ecosystem-based LeEco membership program.
Users can access 2,000+ movies, 50 live concerts throughout the year, 100+ live TV channels and more than 3.5 million songs right from their smartphone. In addition, the company is also offering 5TB of cloud storage space.
CDLA transmits audio digitally using the device's type C port, avoiding the analog conversion that occurs via the traditional 3.5 mm headphone jack entirely. LeEco promises that this results in the transmission having a higher higher bit rate, more power and lesser signal noise, thereby providing high resolution, nearly lossless audio.
If you can digest the lack of a headphone jack, at a price of Rs 11,999, the LeEco Le 2 seems to be a great value for money proposition.
Also read: LeEco Le2 hands-on review
4/5 Lenovo Phab 2 Plus: Best Phablet under 15k
The PHAB 2 Plus is powered by a Mediatek MT8783 oct-core processor, a Mali T720 GPU, a 4,050mAh battery and 3GB of RAM. It comes with 32GB of internal storage which can be expanded with a microSD card of upto 128GB.
The handset supports Dolby ATMOS and Dolby Audio Capture 5.1 for a stellar audio experience and comes with a rear mounted fingerprint scanner.
The distinguishing feature of the PHAB 2 Plus (apart from its humongous display of course) is the dual-camera setup at the back. The device comes with two 13MP cameras at the back with an aperture of f/2.0, laser auto-focus and phase detection auto-focus.
This dual camera setup allows you to click a photo and then superimpose the subject on any background that you want. Additionally, you can also change focus after clicking a photo and shoot bokeh shots with blurred backgrounds. On the front, there is an 8MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.2.
On the connectivity front, the PHAB 2 Plus supports 4G LTE, 3G, EDGE, Wi-Fi 802/11 ac, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, A-GPS and comes with a micro-USB port for charging and data transfer. The device runs on Android Marshmallow 6.0. The lack of Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box is a bit disappointing in this day and age.
5/5 Yu Yunicorn: Best Indian option
The flagship device of Micromax's sub brand - YU, features a MediaTek Helio P10 processor, 4GB RAM, 32GB of internal storage (expandable by up-to 128GB), a 4,000mAh battery and a fingerprint scanner.
The device, touted as a 'flagship killer' by the company, is made up of an aluminum, magnesium and manganese alloy and is available on Flipkart at a price of Rs 12,500.
The Yu Yunicorn offers a very serviceable and capable 5.5-inch full HD IPS display, with vivid colors, good viewing angles and adequate brightness levels. The display is protected by protective glass made by Nippon Electric Glass.
The smartphone runs a custom version of Android 5.1 Lollipop called 'Android on Steroids' and also features an 'Around Yu 2.0' software that offers an integrated wallet, doctors on demand, and other content services. The UI is not heavily skinned and is much closer to stock than other intrusive skins.
On the imaging front, the YU Yunicorn has a 13MP rear camera with a five-element lens and electronic image stabilization and a 5MP front camera.
The YU Yunicorn offers a great display, stellar build quality, fantastic battery life and good day to day performance. The only negatives are the slow and mediocre camera and disappointing gaming performance.
Also read: Yu Yunicorn review