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Best cheap phones 2019: our top budget mobiles in India

Notches, the disappearing 3.5mm headphone jack and multiple cameras are all the rage this year. Not to mention making screens as bezel-less as possible. Once flagship models initiate a design or functionality trend, it’s rare that new devices in the budget segment don’t follow. 

In India, specifically, the budget segment of the smartphone market is booming. The best selling brands in country, including Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Samsung, all have their strategy for this year aimed towards launching as many budget phones are possible. 

Currently, a user who plans to spend somewhere under Rs 20,000 on a smartphone has loads of options. 

We have compiled a list of devices which will provide you a bunch of features without burning a hole in your pocket.

Huawei P30 Lite

Huawei P30 Lite

Display: 6.15-inch full-HD LCD notched display | Processor: Kirin 710 SoC | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB | OS: Android 9 Pie with EMUI 9 | Rear camera: 24MP + 2MP + 8MP | Front camera: 32MP | Battery: 3340mAh

Premium design

Generous storage

Excellent selfie camera

Value for money

Mono speaker

Middling chipset

Average battery life

Apart from the teardrop notch and the colorful back designs, the P30 Lite has little in common with its siblings. The P30 Lite discards several key features from the higher-end P30 phones but aims to retain the spirit of the P30 series by offering a high-end striking design alongside an adept camera setup.  

The phone can handle most tasks well enough for casual users. You can easily get a days worth of moderate use with the conservative battery capacity and if you happen to run out of juice the phone can charge up relatively quickly with the bundled fast charger. 

Hands on: Huawei P30 Lite review

Redmi Note 7 Pro

Redmi Note 7 Pro

OS: Android 9 Pie with MIUI 10 | Processor: Snapdragon 675 octa-core SoC with 4GB/6GB RAM | Display: 6.3-inch FHD+ LTPS in-cell display with dot notch | Rear Camera: 48MP + 5MP | Front camera: 13MP | Battery: 4000mAh

Revamped, larger display

Has QuickCharge 4.0 support

Powerful 48MP main camera

Screen size may not work for everyone

Colour reproduction tends towards the cooler side

The Note 7 Pro is one of Redmi’s first two launches as Xiaomi’s official sub-brand in India (the other being the Note 7). It brings the 48MP camera to the budget smartphone market, and while the design isn’t new, it’s certainly a revamp for the brand. 

Under the hood is the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 octa-core chipset, and an Adreno 612 GPU. There are two storage variants- the 4GB/64GB variant is priced at Rs 13,999, while the 6GB/128GB version is priced at Rs 16,999. It will go on sale on March 13 at Mi Home stores, mi.com, Flipkart and Mi Partner stores.  

Hands on: Redmi Note 7 Pro review

Redmi Note 7

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC + Adreno 512 GPU | OS: Android 9 Pie with MIUI 10 | RAM: 3GB/4GB/6GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Rear camera: 48MP + 5MP | Front camera: 13MP | Battery: 4000mAh

48MP main camera

Big battery with QuickCharge 4.0

Infrared blaster turns the phone into a remote

Low onboard storage

18W fast charger sold separately

The Redmi Note 7 is the younger fraternal twin of the Note 7 Pro, and it looks like it too. It boasts of the cheapest 48MP camera in the Indian market- it starts at Rs 9,999 for the base 3GB/32GB storage variant. Like its better-looking brother, it will go on sale on March 13 at Mi Home stores, mi.com, Flipkart and Mi Partner stores.  

Samsung Galaxy M30

Processor: Exynos 7904 octa-core SoC | OS: Samsung Experience 9.5 UI based on Android 8.1.0 | Display: 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED (2280 x 1080 pixels) with U-notch | Aspect ratio: 19.5:9 | RAM: 4GB/6GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB | Rear camera: 13MP + 5MP + 5MP Ultra-wide | Front Camera: 16MP | Battery: 5000mAh

Great display

Massive battery

Supports fast-charging

Runs Android 8.1 Oreo

Slightly wide chin

 The Galaxy M30 follows the same design language as its younger siblings, the M20 and M10. It has a polycarbonate rear panel with a glossy finish and a triple rear camera setup on the top right corner- the M10 and M20 only have a dual rear camera. The Super AMOLED FHD+ display (2280×1080 pixels) is a definite upgrade on the other two as well.

Samsung Galaxy M30 is powered by Exynos 7904 chipset, the same one as the M20.  You can get either 4GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage or 6GB RAM with 128GB storage.  The phone starts at Rs 14,990 for the 4GB/64GB base variant.

Read our M30 hand-on review here

Samsung Galaxy M20

Samsung Galaxy M20

OS: Android 8.1 Oreo with Samsung Experience 9.5 UX | Display: 6.3-inch FHD+ (2340 x 1080p) PLS TFT | Processor: Exynos 7904 octa-core SoC, 3GB/4GB RAM | Rear camera: 13MP + 5MP | Front camera: 8MP | Storage: 32GB/64GB, expandable via microSD card up to 512 GB

Seamless UI/UX performance

Attractive display

Great battery life

Doesn’t run on the latest version of Android

Average camera performance

No 5GHz Wi-Fi support

The newly-launched Samsung Galaxy M20 invokes a single watchword- ‘balanced’. While it lacks the flair and performance specs of the pricier Samsung devices, it’s a neat, attractive-looking piece in its own right. Priced at Rs 10,990 onwards, the Galaxy M20 brings an immersive display, impressive selfie camera, and smooth UI/UX performance to the budget smartphone sector. 

Read our full Samsung Galaxy M20 review 

Samsung Galaxy A50

Samsung Galaxy A50

Display: 6.4-inch Full HD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels) Super AMOLED notched panel | OS: Android 9 Pie with OneUI | Processor: Exynos 9610 with Mali-G72 MP3 GPU | RAM: 4GB/6GB | Storage: 64GB | Rear camera: 25MP + 5MP + 8MP | Front camera: 25MP | Battery: 4000mAh

Luminous cover

Impressive display

Good battery life

Unimpressive low-light camera

OneUI a bit sluggish

The Samsung Galaxy A50 is a stunning device- the reflective coating on the back makes for a very good-looking phone, and the large Super AMOLED display is great for video and graphic content. The daylight camera isn’t too shabby either, though the Live Focus is a bit hit-and-miss. 

But there are a few snags- the OneUI needs more fine-tuning, and definitely more speed. There’s a noticeable lag in performance, which doesn’t bode well. Hopefully further updates will iron the kinks. The low-light camera is disappointing too. 

Samsung Galaxy A50 review

Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2

(Image credit: Truls Steinung)

Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2

Display: 6.26-inch full-HD+ notched display, with Corning Gorilla Glass 6 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 1.95GHz octa-core SoC | OS: Stock Android 8.1 Oreo | RAM: 3GB/4GB/6GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Rear camera: 12MP + 5MP | Front camera: 13MP | Battery: 5000mAh

Stock Android UI/UX

Very little bloatware

Smooth performance 

Great battery life

Runs Android Oreo

Unimpressive low-light camera

No fast-charging

The successor to the popular Max Pro M1, the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 is a great all-round performer. It runs stock Android and has only 3 pre-loaded apps- Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. The Snapdragon 660 is paired with an Adreno 512 GPU; the pair can handle most tasks and heavy games with minimal glitching. 

The low-light camera is a bit of a let-down, and the phone runs Android Oreo out of the box, but the Android Pie update has been available since January. The battery life is great, but the lack of fast charging means that the device takes nearly 3 hours to charge fully. A full battery will last about 9-10 hours of heavy usage and multitasking, so it will last the ordinary user over 24 hours. 

Redmi 6 Pro

Weight: 178g | Dimensions: 149.3 x 71.7 x 8.8mm | OS: Android 8.0 Oreo | Screen size: 5.84-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2280 (19:9 aspect ratio) | CPU: Snapdragon 625 | RAM: 4GB/3GB | Storage: 64GB/32GB | Battery: 4000mAh | Rear camera: 12+5MP | Front camera: 5MP

Vibrant 19:9 display

Handy design

Value for money

Low onboard storage

Runs Android 8.0 Oreo

Xiaomi has added the new Redmi 6 Pro smartphone to its sub 10K lineup this time. It’s the first Pro smartphone in the segment, and it justifies the name with some promising specs on paper and reliable real-life performance. It gets the notch design, the first from the company to have the feature, a 4000mAh battery and last year’s most reliable mid-range chipset Snapdragon 625 with 3GB/4GB of RAM and a full HD display. At Rs 8,999, it’s a steal. 

Realme 3

Display: 6.22-inch HD+ (1520 x 720 pixels) panel with waterdrop notch | Processor: MediaTek Helio P70 SoC | OS: Android 9 Pie with ColorOS 6.0 | RAM: 3GB/4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP | Front camera: 13MP | Battery: 4230mAh

Good battery life

Good camera performance

Value for money

Bloatware

Disappointing display

ColorOS has niggles

The successor to the Oppo Realme 2, the Realme 3 is a good value-for-money proposition. It comes in two storage variants- 3GB/32GB, and 4GB/64GB- and in two colour options, Radiant Blue and Dynamic Black. 

The price starts at Rs 8,999 for the base variant, and Rs 10,990 for the higher storage variant. The performance of the ColorOS 6.0 and the cameras could have been better- the OS especially has a few kinks in the performance that need to be ironed out. But for the asking price, it’s a good option if you don’t mind a few hits and misses. 

Read our full Realme 3 review

Samsung Galaxy A30

Display: 6.4-inch FHD+ Infinity-U AMOLED panel with teardrop notch | Processor: Exynos 7904 octa-core SoC | OS: Android 9 Pie with Samsung One UI | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Rear camera: 16MP + 5MP | Front camera: 16MP | Battery: 4000mAh

Vibrant AMOLED display

Smooth UI/UX performance

Great battery life

Low onboard storage

Dodgy camera effects

In the shadow of the Galaxy S10, Galaxy Fold, and the Galaxy Buds, Samsung also launched the Galaxy A30 phone. It’s the middle child, but nevertheless, quite a good phone in its own right. 

Performance is smooth- the A30 runs Android 9 Pie out of the box, with the Samsung One UI. The camera effects can be a bit unreliable, and you’re clearly getting the camera that you paid for. The 4000mAh battery can easily last a day, and the phone supports 15W fast charging.

It comes with only 4GB/64GB of storage, but there is a microSD card slot if you want more. It retails for Rs 16,990 on Amazon.

Hands on: Samsung Galaxy A30 review

Honor 10 Lite

Processor: Kirin 710 SoC with 3GB/4GB/6GB RAM | OS: Android 9 Pie + EMUI 9 | Display: 6.21-inch FHD+ LCD panel with waterdrop notch | Storage: 64GB | Rear camera: 13MP + 2MP | Front camera: 24MP | Battery: 3400mAh

Striking design, look and feel

Good, though stylised camera

Excellent display

Clunky EMUI

Single speaker

The Honor 10 Lite has an excellent display, and is a premium-looking smartphone in the budget category. The camera’s also pretty decent, though some images might feel overly processed. The micro USB port also feels a bit dated. But it’s a well-performing device, well worth the price. 

Honor 10 Lite review

Redmi Note 6 Pro

Redmi Note 6 Pro

Display: 6.26-inch full-HD + IPS LCD panel | Processor: Snapdragon 636 SoC + Adreno 509 GPU | OS: Android 8.1 Oreo with MIUI 10 | RAM: 4GB/6GB | Storage: 64GB | Front camera: 20MP + 2MP | Rear camera: 12MP + 5MP | Battery life: 4000mAh

Good camera performance

Snappy UI

Big battery + fast charging support

Low onboard storage

Runs Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box

The Redmi Note 6 Pro, another phone that’s worth a gander, was released last year as a successor to the very popular Note 5 Pro. It has dual rear and front cameras, a rarity in the budget segment; both cameras produce detailed, above-average pictures. The 4000mAh battery easily lasts a day, and the phone also supports fast charging. It runs Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, but should soon get the Pie update. 


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