We are again at that point where we look back the year that was, as well as look forward to what 2017 will bring. Looking at the smartphone space in particular, India was among the few shining beacons amid a slowdown globally. The year 2016 saw record-breaking sales and shipment numbers in the country, as smartphone adoption was at an all-time high. As we inch closer to 2017, we bring you the top-five smartphones launched this year. The BGR India team has debated, argued, and debated some more to choose the best smartphones based on their specifications, performance, as well as their value for money quotient. This week, we will be publishing a list every day of the top-five smartphones in a segment, and today we kick off the series with the sub-Rs 10,000 segment. Also Read - Asus Zenfone Max M1 Review: A capable device that can be better with some tweaksAlso Read - Asus Zenfone Max M1 First Impressions: Affordable and feature-filled
The budget smartphone segment was where the bulk of business happened this year. According to Counterpoint Research, nearly 75 percent of total smartphones sold in India this year is estimated to have been priced under Rs 10,000. Led by a host of Chinese and local players, nearly 90 percent of the smartphone brands had a presence in this segment. They all worked towards changing the perception — budget smartphones are no longer synonymous with the word ‘cheap’.
What’s more, the booming business in this segment is showing no signs of slowing down, and in fact numbers are only expected to grow in 2017. “Almost 25 percent of the total smartphones sold in India in CY’ 2016 are estimated to be priced around Rs 10,000, which will rise to around 70 percent in 2017,” Tarun Pathak, Senior Analyst, Mobile Devices and Ecosystems at Counterpoint Research, told BGR India. “India still has an installed base of close to 400 Million feature phone users, which are likely to have sub-Rs 10,000 smartphone as their first purchase, he added.
The entry of Reliance Jio also had an impact on this smartphone segment, as companies scampered to launch affordable smartphones boasting LTE and VoLTE support. Pathak further says that in 2014 only one percent of total mobile phones sold in India were LTE capable, but this number is set to grow to 31 percent, or two in three smartphones, by the end of this year.
Here are our picks for the best budget smartphone for 2016.
#1 Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime
When it comes to setting standards, Xiaomi is far ahead of its rivals, and the Redmi 3S Prime is a prime (pun unintended) example. It may look like a smaller version of the popular Redmi Note 3, but it was much more that. With a sleek metal body, good set of specs, and a fingerprint scanner, Xiaomi pushed the limits of what can be offered at a price tag as low as Rs 8,999. What’s more, the 4,000mAh unit underneath, and a near two-day battery life, it addressed one of the biggest complaints with budget smartphones. It is little wonder then the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime is by far the best budget smartphone of 2016. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime Review: The holy grail of smartphones
#2 Lenovo K6 Power
For a long time, there was no real competition to Xiaomi’s Redmi 3s Prime, until the launch of the Lenovo K6 Power towards the end of last month. The new K6 Power offers almost everything that Xiaomi’s smartphone has to offer, and at a similar price tag too. It comes with additional multimedia features like Dolby Atmos audio and Lenovo‘s own TheatreMax feature. If not for the time of launch, the K6 Power could have been a contender for the best budget smartphone of 2016. But it has to currently settle for a close second. ALSO READ: Lenovo K6 Power Review
#3 Asus Zenfone Max (2016)
To call the Asus Zenfone Max (2016) a smartphone would not do it justice, and it is more of a powerbank with voice calling and texting capabilities. During our review, the phone not only lasted more than a couple of days, but we also managed to charge an Apple iPhone 5s without so much as a dent to its battery percentage. If a seemingly endless battery life is what you crave from a smartphone, there are very few that come close to the Asus Zenfone Max (2016). ALSO READ: Asus Zenfone Max (2016) review: More powerbank, less phone
#Notable mentions: Moto G4 Play and Coolpad Mega 2.5D
In a segment ruled by Chinese OEMs, you do not really get to enjoy the power and simplicity of the Android operating system. That is why Motorola’s Moto G4 Play gets a mention in our list for being a rare smartphone in the sub-Rs 10,000 segment to offer a near stock Android experience. Another talking point is the nano coating on the outside and the inside that provides enough water resistance to protect the phone from an accidental splash of water or a quick outing in the drizzle.
The Coolpad Mega 2.5D also gets a mention for being a beauty of a device. In a segment where most smartphones look like a love child of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, the Mega 2.5D caters to an audience that seeks a genuinely good looking smartphone. Adding in decent performance, and Rs 6,999 price tag, and you won’t be surprised why the Coolpad Mega 2.5D made our list. ALSO READ: Coolpad Mega 2.5D review: Great looks, good enough performance
What do you think of these smartphones handpicked by the BGR India team? Do you agree or do you have a different list, let us know in comments below or tweet using #BGRIndiaAwards.