Smartphones between Rs 20,000 and Rs. 35,000: A Buyer’s Guide

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We covered the basic entry level smartphones in the previous article. Today let’s take it one step further: the Rs. 20,000-35,000 range.

This is the somewhat low to medium spec smartphone area. Some offer really good value for money, while others don’t. Here are our picks for this price range. Bear in mind that again these devices are equipped with the usual features – microSD storage, WiFi, Bluetooth, audio/video player, and FM radio so we won’t be talking about them much. We will, however, be throwing at you the basic specs of an Android phone – CPU, RAM and the like – just so you know what you’re getting for the money.

phones - midrange

Nokia Lumia 525 

Starting off our list we have the Lumia 525. A 4” incher with a 490*800 IPS display – scratch resistant, but as Yudhanjaya found out, not entirely lion-resistant . It’s powered by a Dual core 1GHz CPU backed up by 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. Running Windows Phone 8, which is rather meh, the 525 becomes much more useful when updated to Windows Phone 8.1 and s a good choice for those on a budget. It also has 5 megapixel camera that takes colorful, but very noisy photos in good lighting and does pretty good for night time shots (thanks to extensive post processing). Battery time is rated at up to 336 hours of standby time with 3G and upto 10 hours of talk time on 3G.

It’s available at most mobile phone retailers for around Rs. 20,400. Despite all of this, we wouldn’t entirely recommend it, given that in our previous roundup we unearthed a Lumia for much cheaper than does almost the same thing.

Galaxy S3 Mini

The Galaxy S3 Mini is next up. Priced at Rs. 21,900 and up, the S3 Mini is literally a downscaled version of Samsung’s Galaxy S3 smartphone. Sporting a 4” 480*800 screen and powered by a 1.2GHz Dual core CPU, it has 1GB of RAM and either 4 or 8GB of internal storage. The display is a Super AMOLED – meaning that colors are quite vivid and the display is not too taxing on the battery. In fact, when dark colors such as black are displayed on screen, the relevant pixel will actually turn off, thereby extending battery time.

The S3 mini ships with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean modified with Samsung’s proprietary TouchWiz UI. Animations and the overall UI is smooth and multitasking works well with 1GB of RAM provided that you clean up unwanted apps after using them. Build quality is as any normal Samsung phone; usable, but nothing to drool over.

Ideabeam: Galaxy S3 Mini (Dialog’s listed it for a whopping Rs 79,900)

Huawei Honor 3C

There are some things in life that make us stare open mouthed. The Huawei Honor 3C is one such thing. A somewhat new entrant to the mobile phone industry in Sri Lanka, Huawei’s created a whopper here.

Priced at Rs. 28,000 at Singer, the Honor 3C has a 5” 720*1280 IPS screen and packs a quad core 1.3GHz CPU with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage and microSD card to boot. It also has an 8 MP back camera along with a 5 MP front camera and ships with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean – and yes, you can upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat.

The specs and features do sound amazingly appealing, and in practice the phone is a really good looker. It should be noted that while being a quad core device, the chipset is a Mediatek MT6582 – which is on the budget spectrum of chipset/CPU combos – so technically not as powerful as a S3/S4, but more than enough for multi-tasking. Huawei has this thing called the Emotion UI – a skin for Android that is quite lovely and simple to use. It also has a talk time of around 14 hours.

Are we raving? Possibly.

Ideabeam: Huawei Honor 3C

Xiaomi Redmi 1S

Xiaomi is another relatively unheard of brand in Sri Lanka, but they are certainly making a name for themselves in the global market.

Our pick from their lineup, the Redmi 1S priced at Rs. 24,900 and available mainly at Dialcom. It sports a 4.7” 720*1280 Corning Gorilla Glass 3 IPS screen and is powered by a quad core 1.6GHz CPU. It’s got 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal memory. It also has an 8 MP rear camera and 1.6 MP frontcam

Xiaomi uses its own proprietary UI titled MIUI, which is similar to Huwei’s Emotion UI. Overall the build quality and UI are good, and while Dialcom’s prices make the Redmi uncompetitive compared with the Huawei Honor, it’s an interesting pgone. The battery is expected to give around 14 hours of talk time with 3G enabled. Photo quality is also arguably better than that of the Lumia 525.

If you’re interesting in Xiaomi and you don’t mind spending a bit more, you can opt for a Xiaomi Redmi Note. The difference between the two is mainly the screen size with the Note having a 5.5” 720*1280 screen, 13 megapixel camera and a higher rated battery.

Motorola Moto G

Next up is the Motorola Moto G. It comes in several variations; the 8GB, single-SIM variant will cost you around Rs 25,900.  Having a 720*1280 IPS LCD screen and powered by a quad core 1.2GHz CPU, with 1GB of RAM and either 8/16GB of internal storage, the Moto G also has a 5MP rear camera and 1.3MP front facing camera – but no memory card slot.

Originally shipping with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, the Moto G can be upgraded to Android 4.4.4 KitKat and even Android 5.0 Lollipop. In fact, the Moto G was one of the first receive the new OS. The G’s hook was that the user interface is stock Android (again like the Nexus lineup). The device handles day to day life activities quite well and is very fluid and smooth in daily usage. The screen is also one of the best screens in this price range. It also does battery really well – better than all the others we’ve spoken about here. The camera is where the budget cuts kick in

For around Rs. 1000 more, you can get the Moto G X1032 Dual SIM which as the name says, offers dual SIM functionality and for about Rs. 5000 more, you can get the Moto G Dual SIM 16GB which again, apart from having the dual SIM functionality, also offers twice the storage capacity. I would personally recommend this phone and have done so on many occasion. Everything about the phone fits snugly into the price you pay and is well worth it.

See Ideabeam: Moto G

Asus Zenfone 5

We looked at Asus’s Zenfone 4 in the the previous article. This is the higher end – the Zenfone 5.

With a 5” 720*1280 IPS screen and powered by a dual core 2 GHz Intel Atom CPU, the Zenfone can trade blows with anything in the price range. Priced at Rs. 27,900, it also has an 8 MP rear camera and 2 MP front camera. In short, it’s the bigger, badder version, and it looks quite a bit better than the previous.

Mind you, it’s rare: we haven’t seen anyone carting around one of these yet. There’s also Zenfone 5 A500KL- a phone with the same in specifications, features and dimensions as the Zenfone 5, but with the Intel CPU swapped out for a quad core 1.2GHz Cortex-A7. This Cortex version is priced at Rs. 33,900. We prefer the dual-core device. It uses a bit more battery, but is butter-smooth and a whole lot cheaper.

Nokia Lumia 1320

The Nokia Lumia 1320 is next up at Rs. 31,800.

This is a large phone. Sporting a somewhat massive 6” 720p display, the 1320 has a dual core 1.7GHz CPU and is backed by 1GB of RAM. Like most other’s here, it’s got 8GB of internal storage. Like Samsung’s Galaxy line up and Sony’s Xperias, the Lumia series too doesn’t stray too far from the beaten path. It’s basically a bigger version of what we’ve seen so far. One thing we see is that the bigger Lumias seem to have better battery life compared to, say, the Lumia 525. Ratings are around 672 hours on standby and around 21 hours of talk time (both with 3G on).

See Ideabeam: Lumia 1320

Asus Zenfone 6

Released as the successor to the Zenfone 5, the device sports a 6” 720*1280 IPS screen and is powered by a dual core 2GHz Intel Atom CPU backed up by either 1 or 2GB of RAM (it has flavors of 8/16/32GB of storage). It originally shipped with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but is upgradeable to Android 4.4.2 KitKat. It also has a 13MP rear camera and a 2MP front facing camera.

The only problem that may deter people is the screen. Being a 6” screen is practically a phablet, and at the end of the day, that’s a very limited subsection of users. It has the trademark ASUS styling – but before you go for it, do consider whether bigger really means better.

Well, there you have it. These are our picks for the best smartphones in this price range. Have you any other models you think deserve to be here? If so, drop us a line – we’d would love to hear from you.

4 COMMENTS

  1. There are many smartphones of different company with some different features, some are very expensive which have very good features and some are cheap which has not so good feature and they will damage soon but the given phone in this blog is very good and the affordable price.

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