In 2016, the mobile landscape underwent a sea change 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, mediocre cameras and slow performance. In fact, devices in this price range are more and more capable of fighting against the world's flagships.
Read : TechRadar India Special: BEST TECHNOLOGY OF 2016
Back in the top 5 smartphones of 2016 under Rs 15.000:
(Note: we only consider devices costing between Rs 10 and 15,000 for this comparison)
1/5 Moto G4 Plus: the best of the best
The Moto G4 Plus is one of two variants of Motorola's fourth-generation Moto G, the company's best-selling line of smartphones. Compared to the classic Moto G4, the Moto G4 Plus has an upgraded 16MP rear camera with auto phase detection, laser auto focus, and dual LED flash. It also comes with a fingerprint sensor.
The Moto G4 Plus has a fantastic 5.5-inch Full HD display (1920x1080 pixels), with a pixel density of 401ppi. This is the first time that a Moto G smartphone has been equipped with a Full HD display. The screen is also covered with Gorilla Glass 3 for protection.
The Moto G4 Plus is powered by a 617GHz Snapdragon 1,5 octa-core processor paired with a 405MHz Adreno 550 GPU and either 2GB RAM + 16GB internal storage or 3GB RAM + 32GB internal storage. The internal memory can be expanded up to 200 GB using a microSD card. It comes with a 3000mAh battery with TurboCharging support which Motorola claims provides 6 hours of use from just 15 minutes of charging.
At a starting price of Rs 13,499, the Moto G4 Plus is an attractive buy and continues the G-series smartphone tradition of offering great smartphones at an affordable price. It has a great screen, fast and accurate fingerprint sensor, stock Android, and it works admirably well. The only drawbacks here are the lackluster cameras and disappointing battery life.
Read also: Motorola Moto G4 Plus test
2/5 Redmi Note 3: the best value for money
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is the successor to the popular Redmi Note 2 and is available at a price of Rs 9,999 for the 16GB + 2GB variant and Rs 11,999 for the 32GB + 3GB RAM variant.
The Redmi Note 3 features an all-metal design, a 5.5-inch Full HD (1920x1080) display, and a 650-core Snapdragon 6 processor. The 16GB variant comes with 2GB of RAM and a 4000mAh battery, while the 32GB variant has 3GB of RAM and comes with a slightly larger 4050mAh battery. Both variants come with QuickCharging support.
The Redmi Note 3 was Xiaomi's first phone to include a fingerprint scanner, which sits just below the camera sensor. As for the images, the device has a 16 MP rear camera with dual LED flash and a 5 MP front shooter.
The device runs on Xiaomi's own MIUI7 which runs on 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 its launch, it can easily stand out from the competition.
Read also: Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Review
3/5 LeEco Le2: Best Content Ecosystem
The LeEco Le 2 is a redesign of the LeEco Le1s and features a similar all-metal design, a 652 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 1.8 processor, 16 + 8 MP cameras, 32 GB of internal storage and 3 GB of RAM. The Le 2 will be the first smartphone in India to feature Snapdragon 652 SoC.
The smartphone has a 5.5-inch IPS Full HD display with a pixel density of 403 PPI. It also has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for scratch resistance.
The Le 2 is identical to its predecessor, with an all-metal unibody design that looks and feels highly exclusive. The build quality is fantastic with no creaking or rattling. The design and construction of the device is one of its strengths and it can easily compete with any high-end smartphone.
The phone's USP lies in its "revolutionary" CDLA audio technology and the company's ecosystem-based LeEco membership program.
Users can access more than 2.000 movies, 50 live concerts throughout the year, more than 100 live TV channels and more than 3.5 million songs directly from their smartphones. In addition, the company also offers 5TB of cloud storage space.
CDLA transmits audio digitally using the device's Type-C port, without bypassing the analog conversion that occurs through the traditional 3,5mm headphone jack. LeEco promises that this results in transmission with a higher bit rate, more power and less signal noise, thus providing high resolution, almost lossless sound.
If you can stomach the lack of a headphone jack, priced at Rs 11,999, the LeEco Le 2 looks like excellent value for money.
Read also: LeEco Le2 practical test
4/5 Lenovo Phab 2 Plus: The best phablet under 15k
The PHAB 2 Plus is powered by a Mediatek MT8783 oct-core processor, Mali T720 GPU, 4.050mAh battery, and 3GB RAM. It comes with 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded with a microSD card up to 128GB.
The phone supports Dolby ATMOS and Dolby Audio Capture 5.1 for an exceptional audio experience and comes with a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.
The distinguishing feature of the PHAB 2 Plus (apart from its giant screen, of course) is the dual camera setup on the rear. The device comes with dual 13MP cameras on the rear with f/2.0 aperture, laser autofocus, and phase detection autofocus.
This dual camera setup allows you to click a photo and then overlay your subject on the background of your choice. In addition, you can also change the focus after clicking a photo and take bokeh photos with blurred backgrounds. On the front, there is an 8MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.2.
On the connectivity side, 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 Android Marshmallow 6.0. The lack of Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box is a bit of a disappointment these days.
5/5 Yu Yulicor: Best Indian Choice
The flagship device of the Micromax - YU sub-brand, packs a MediaTek Helio P10 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage (expandable up to 128 GB), a 4000 mAh battery and a fingerprint reader.
The device, touted as a "flagship killer" by the company, is made of an aluminum-magnesium-manganese alloy and is available on Flipkart for Rs 12.500.
The Yu Yunicorn offers a highly functional and capable 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display with vivid colors, good viewing angles, and adequate brightness levels. The screen is protected by protective glass made by Nippon Electric Glass.
The smartphone runs a customized version of Android 5.1 Lollipop called "Android on Steroids" and also has "Around Yu 2.0" software that offers a built-in wallet, doctors-on-demand and other content services. The UI doesn't have many skins and is much closer to stock than other intrusive skins.
As for the images, the YU Yunicorn has a 13 MP rear camera with a five-element lens and electronic image stabilization and a 5 MP front camera.
The YU Yulicor offers an excellent screen, exceptional build quality, fantastic battery life, and good daily performance. The only negatives are mediocre slow motion and disappointing gaming performance.
Read also: Yu Yulicor Live Review