Buying a smartphone on a medium-sized budget can be a confusing task, with so many smartphone models available across popular manufacturers such as Samsung, Oppo, Xiaomi, and OnePlus. These handsets are typically equipped with one or two features typically found on more expensive flagship phones, such as faster charging, high-end chipsets, or camera sensors. While it might be argued that you get more value for your money when purchasing a smartphone in this price segment, you might also have to make certain trade-offs.
On this week’s episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, host Akhil Arora talks to Reviewer Pranav Hegde and Consultant Sub Editor Siddhant Chandra to outline some of the best smartphones worth buying under Rs. 30,000.
It’s been a while since we discussed the best phones under Rs. 30,000, and brands have shown a lot of interest in the Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000 segment, according to Pranav. Consumers have started to spend more to get more value out of their smartphones, aided by buy now pay latter (BNPL) or easy EMI offers. These aren’t phones that come with many compromises, and tend to offer good value for money, he says.
Thanks to the pandemic and the ongoing global supply crunch, smartphones priced under Rs. 20,000 do not offer the same value that they used to until last year, Pranav explains, adding that there are a few smartphones making their debut under Rs. 10,000, but they do not offer enough value.
Akhil asks if there are any “flagship” phone features that you simply won’t see on smartphones priced under Rs. 30,000, and Pranav says that while you do get high-end features like a 108-megapixel camera, or support for 120W fast charging, you will usually get one outstanding feature that might compete with a flagship phone, the rest of the specifications will not be as good as a premium handset.
He cites the example of the Xiaomi 11i HyperCharge, a smartphone equipped with an AMOLED display and support for 120W fast charging that offers a good multimedia experience and the ability to charge your phone quickly. However, he found that the camera performance on the Xiaomi handset was not as good as other phones in the same price segment.
Siddhant asks Pranav to list out the best features that a buyer can expect under the Rs. 30,000 mark. You can get smartphones with a powerful Snapdragon 870 chipset, or a MediaTek Dimensity 1300 chipset, so performance is not an issue, he says. Very few phones in this price segment will feature a premium build quality, but you can consider phones like the Poco F4 5G or the Oppo Reno 8 5G, he adds.
When picking a phone under the Rs. 30,000 mark, you should probably opt for a phone with an AMOLED display, according to Pranav. Many phones in this segment do not offer a 3.5mm headphone jack, which means you should also check whether the handset supports dual stereo speakers, he says.
Akhil asks if it makes a difference whether your smartphone’s display supports a refresh rate of 90Hz or 120Hz. While the difference between 90Hz and 120Hz isn’t obvious, you will see a difference when upgrading from an older smartphone with a 60Hz display, Pranav says.
If you want a feature rich experience, you can also consider the Samsung M53 5G, Pranav says. While you might not get the most powerful processor in this price segment, you get Samsung’s One UI 4.0 skin running on top of Android 12, with two years of operating system updates and four years of security updates, as is the case with the company’s M-series phones. It is equipped with a 108-megapixel quad camera setup.
Software updates might be patchy in this price segment, Pranav says. While there’s no word on timelines, the general norm for phones priced under Rs. 30,000 is two years of software support. The Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge, for example, launched with Android 11 out-of-the-box when development of Android 13 had already been announced by Google. The phone eventually received an update to Android 12, bringing it on par with other phones from Samsung and OnePlus.
You can listen to all of that in detail and more in our episode by hitting the play button on the Spotify player embedded above. Don’t forget to check our guide to the best phones under the Rs. 30,000 mark, which you can find linked above.
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