This year, we saw the smartphone market shift focus from the sub-10K category to the better equipped mid-range smartphones. That being said, the budget smartphone segment was not neglected completely and companies like Xiaomi, Lenovo, Micromax, Lava, and more, made sure that consumers had a hard time choosing the right phone. We saw features like fingerprint scanners, dual-cameras trickle down to the budget category this year. Micromax even brought the much hyped unvisium display with a 18:9 aspect ratio display to the sub-10K smartphone category with the Canvas Infinity. When it comes down to performance, some of these budget smartphones can give mid-tier smartphones (10K – 20K) a run for their money. Hence, these devices still offer the most value for your money. However, we at Digit were looking for more than just specifications and headline features. Out of the dozens of phones we reviewed this year, here are the ones which are our top picks.
2017 Zero1 Awards Winner: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (3GB + 32GB)
The Redmi Note 3 had won this category last year and this year, the Redmi Note 4 take away the Zero1 in the sub-10K category. Because of its unmatched performance with the Snapdragon 625 SoC, it can run most applications, and although gaming is not completely stutter free, it is better than other devices in the same price bracket.
Xiaomi also improved on the design with this phone. The metal exterior looks and feels more premium than its predecessors and can be considered as a benchmark for this category. The same can be said about the battery life, by the large 4,100mAh battery on the device. During our testing, it gave us eight hours of screen-on time on medium-to-heavy usage and can easily run for more than two days for light users.
The 13MP rear camera on the phone is decent at best and could have been better, but as they say, you can’t have everything.
Best Buy: Lenovo K8 Plus (3GB + 32GB)
The most well-rounded device for your money is the Lenovo K8 Plus. With the latest K-series, the company now has a new approach to software and UI. Some of the elements have been borrowed from Motorola, which is a good thing. Thanks to the new approach, the phone feels faster as it combines a good set of hardware with a stock like Android interface.
Inside you get a MediaTek Helio P25 SoC paired with 3GB RAM. The 2.5GHz Octa-core SoC from MediaTek is almost as fast as the Snapdragon 625 SoC used by the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, but only loses by a margin. The phone is quite snappy in day-to-day performance and apart from the occasional frame drops during gaming, the phone is quite a reliable performer. The 4,000mAh battery doesn’t disappoint either and can keep up with even the heaviest users for a day easily. The best feature of the K8 Plus is the rear dual-cameras, which is currently the best in the category.