If you take a bird’s eye view of the phone market in 2016, you will see that the segment that deals with the budget smartphones did not see the kind of action that was visible in 2015. The companies no longer pushed the prices down. Instead, they all focussed on the price point between Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000. Below this, we did not see the kind of price and hardware war that Yu, Xiaomi, Motorola and Lenovo waged in 2015. But that doesn’t mean the budget phones did not improve this year because they did. And in a big way.

Once again, the best budget phones were available online and once again they came from the usual suspects, with Xiaomi really taking the lead this time. In a way, this lead was even necessary for Xiaomi because its higher-end play centred around the Xiaomi Mi 5 didn’t work out as intended. Other than Xiaomi, Lenovo too competed hard for a slice of the budget phone market. Yu, on the other hand, pulled back a few things this time and only refreshed some of its older phones in this segment. Thankfully for it, the older phones were so good that even a refresh kept them in the hunt.

That was more or less the state of budget phones in 2016, but this December end is not the full year. This piece is also not about the budget phones in 2016. It’s about what you can buy right now in case you want a phone for under Rs 10,000. Well, here are the five phones that we think are the best right now if you are shopping around with ten grands.

Also read: 5 budget phones that totally stole the show in 2016

Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime

This is an absolute favourite in this price bracket. The Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime has the perfect combination of the price and hardware. It is a fast enough phone with quality hardware. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 is a capable processor that powers this phone well enough. The 3GB RAM is plenty and so is the 32GB internal storage. The 5-inch screen means it is compact. The build quality is good and so is the colour and contrast quality of the screen, especially for its price. The 13-megapixel rear camera and the 5-megapixel front camera won’t match what your friend may get with the iPhone 7 but they are not shabby at all. In good light, the Redmi 3S Prime can click very nice photos. The best bit is that along with all that good hardware, you also get features like fingerprint scanner, something that until recently was reserved for more expensive phones.

Now, before you go buy the Redmi 3S Prime, a couple of things:

— If you have a tight budget, you can also go for the Redmi 3S. It costs Rs 2,000 less compared to the Redmi 3S Prime but is more or less the same thing. The big difference is that it is missing a fingerprint scanner, has 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage.

— Finding both the Redmi 3S and the Redmi 3S Prime is little difficult. But be patient and keep an eye on websites where it is sold. You will get it in a week or two.

Also read: Redmi 3S Prime review: Xioami’s greatest hit

Motorola Moto G Turbo

This used to be a much more expensive phone. But now with the Moto G4 Plus and the Moto G4 in the market, the Moto G Turbo has seen some cool price cuts. The phone is now available for around Rs 9,500 and at this price, it is a fantastic phone. The hardware inside the device is good, with Snapdragon 615 powering. The phone has 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. It is also a compact phone with 5-inch screen, which has a resolution of 720P. But more significantly, it is a phone that offers clean Android experience. It runs on almost unmodified Android Marshmallow. It is also waterproof and has a 13-megapixel camera that is capable of clicking some brilliant photos in good light.

Also read: Motorola Moto G Turbo review: Good old Moto with a dash of speed

Lenovo K6 Power

The K6 Power is Lenovo’s answer to the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime. There are lots of similarities. The K6 Power packs in a large battery, similar to what the 3S Prime has inside it. It has a fingerprint scanner located conveniently at the back cover under the camera module. The K6 Power too is powered by a Snapdragon 430, the same processor inside the 3S Prime, and has 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. You see the pattern? Well, you do. But there is something extra that the K6 Power offers and that extra is the screen. It has FullHD (1080P) resolution compared to the 720P in the Xiaomi phone, although the difference during use is not significant enough. the K6 Power also has fairly capable 13-megapixel shooter on the back. Although, our first pick in this budget is the 3S Prime, if you for some reason want to go for the K6 Power, go ahead and get it. You won’t be disappointed.

Also read: Lenovo K6 Power review: The little (battery) champ

Redmi Note 3

The Redmi Note 3 is the grown up Redmi 3S Prime. The two phones look identical. But looks in this case are somewhat misleading. The Redmi Note 3 under its hood has the hardware that is just so much faster and better, at least on paper. It uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor, which is totally in a different class. In real use, however, big difference between the Redmi 3S Prime and the Redmi Note 3 is the screen. The Note 3 has a bigger and better screen. Camera performance is similar, even though the Note 3 has a 16-megapixel image sensor. But beyond the comparisons, it is easy to see that the Redmi Note 3 is one fantastic deal for Rs 9,999. It is particularly a good phone for those who want a high-performance gaming and multimedia phone.

Also read: Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 review: Mr dependable like Rahul Dravid

Yu Yureka Plus

The Yureka Plus is probably the cheapest phone that uses Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor. This is a seriously fast processor for a phone that costs around Rs 6,500. The Yureka Plus also has 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage, along with a 5.5-inch display with FullHD resolution. We reviewed the Yureka Plus last year. And that phone was an absolute beast for its price, in a good way. The Yureka Plus has capable hardware inside it, along with the same 13-megapixel rear camera. Go for it, chances are you won’t be disappointed. The only downside is that the phone uses an older version of Android. But then this year there are very few good smartphones under Rs 7,000 and despite its old software, the Yureka Plus seems to be one of them. Here is what we said when we reviewed it:

With the Yureka Plus, YU has successfully managed to cover the Yureka’s biggest flaw. Its display… It remains one of the best phones you can buy for less than Rs 10,000. It will particularly appeal to people who are looking for stock Android like experience and a good camera.

Also read: YU Yureka Plus review: More pixels at the cost of speed



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