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In the Rs 8,000-15,000 price band nowadays, you can easily pick up handsets with some serious hardware purring under the hood.
For instance, USB OTG, 16GB internal storage, support for microSD cards, good cameras, advanced 3D gaming, and great multitasking are a given in this price bracket.
Moreover, the devices in this range come packed with features that not only differentiate one from the other but also allows you to choose a handset that meets your needs perfectly.
Here’s a look at the Top 5 best smartphones you can buy under Rs 15,000 in India right now…
The latest Moto G comes with an IPX7 rating, which means it can survive a dip in up to three feet of fresh water for up to 30 minutes.
The handset has a textured rubberized back panel, which offers excellent grip. And while it has a smaller display (5-inch) when compared to the other phones on test here, it is on a par in terms of quality. The HD screen is scratch-resistant, responsive to light touches, and renders neutral colours with sharp text, and is legible in bright outdoors.
On the performance front, the third-generation Moto G is snappy and lag-free. This is largely because the handset runs Android Lollipop without any UI customizations or bloatware. You can play 3D games like Frontline Commando 2 and Deer Hunter without any lag, though advanced 3D games could see a frame drop at times.
Its front-facing speaker is loud and phone calls are distortion-free. However, this is the only phone in review here that lacks call-recording.
On the plus side, you get Moto Assist, which includes an active display for notifications when the phone is nudged while in sleep mode, and gesture activations: shake twice to switch on/off the flashlight, while a twist of the wrist launches the camera.
The shooters take pictures with reasonable detail and neutral colours in welllit settings. However, photos in dim environments display a cooler bluish tint and at times the white balance goes off kilter. Re-focusing on a subject is annoying and the camera does not adjust light exposure automatically.
Like it is with earlier Motorola smartphones, you can expect to get well over a day’s worth of work done on a full charge.
Buy Moto G (Gen 3) if you want a waterproof, durable handset that’s a workhorse on the productivity and battery front. We recommend the slightly more expensive variant with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage.
Asus Zenfone 2 Laser’s aesthetics do not stray from the ZenFone 2 family -- its curved back makes it comfortable to hold and its volume buttons on the back allow for easy access while adjusting sound levels in portrait or landscape mode. Besides, its rubberized back panel gives it a nice, sturdy feel in the hand.
The scratch-resistant HD display of Zenfone 2 Laser is bright, and colours are punchy and can be configured to appear vivid or balanced with its colour profiler tool. For readers, a blue light filter is also included to reduce eye strain.
The smartphone runs the latest version of Android, which is heavily customized with the Asus ZenUI. It includes settings to tweak themes, icons, the app drawer, and even allows you to switch to one-handed mode.
There are pre-loaded apps like SnapView (to create a private user profile for work), a kids’ mode, call recorder, gesture recognition, and more. In spite of all this, Asus Zenfone 2 Laser worked without a hitch during tests, though you will have to prepare yourself for frequent app updates. Call quality and music playback are crystal clear.
The rear camera, which uses laser autofocus, is capable of sharp photographs with warm tones and excellent detail. Its shutter has minimal lag and is capable of taking stellar close-up photos. The camera, like in all other Zenfone models, comes with multiple shooting modes – HDR, manual, low light, super resolution, GIF animation, etc -- along with editing options that you let you touch-up photos, remove objects from a scene, create timelapse videos, and more. If that’s not enough, you also get a collage and slideshow maker.
Asus Zenfone 2 Laser is also capable of lasting over a day, in Balanced mode, without needing a recharge. And with its detailed power management options, it is possible to extend its battery life even further.
Buy Asus Zenfone 2 Laser if you want a hand set for mobile photography, but works just as well for productivity tasks.
YU’s Yureka Plus is an upgraded version of the Yureka. This handset comes with a Full HD screen, when compared to the HD display of the Yureka, but sports the same good build quality.
The Yureka Plus packs in hardware that performs as well as -- and most times – even better than devices that cost double its price. When it came to pure benchmarks, it was a close second only to the Panasonic Eluga Icon. Casual games and Full HD movie playback pose no issue, and this device handles 3D games like Frontline Commando 2, Gangstar Vegas and Asphalt 8: Airborne without any hitch.
Call quality is clear and audio playback through headphones is crisp. The output of its dual cameras is sharp enough to be posted on the web. Turn on the flash and you get snapshots that retain minute details under zoom.
The device runs Cyanogen OS 12 that allows users to fully customize their phones, and it is also packed with security features like Privacy Guard that allows you to manage app permissions and a Blacklist feature to block calls and messages from any number by simply adding it to a list.
On the battery front, you get slightly under a day’s worth of work on a full charge. On the downside, the Yureka Plus takes a while to latch onto networks. Also, it automatically disables mobile data when the battery runs below 20% in balanced mode, with no way to override that setting unless you switch to performance mode.
Buy YU Yureka Plus if you want a no-nonsense handset with powerful hardware in budget pricing – and which runs an OS that’s devoid of bloatware.
Panasonic Eluga Icon sports a unibody design with non-removable rear panel. Its back has a metallic-looking finish and gives it a premium look and feel, save for its lack of a scratch-resistant display and backlit navigation controls. That said, the Eluga Icon is equipped with a clear and responsive touchscreen and is packed with great hardware and features.
Eluga Icon breezes through every task, including Full HD movies and 3D games, making it one of the best overall performers in its price range. It latches onto networks quickly, and call quality is clear, though not as loud as the Yureka Plus and Zenfone 2 Laser.
The cameras on Panasonic Eluga Icon are quick to focus and render colours accurately. The front camera is capable of wide-angle photos letting you squeeze more into the frame. Besides, the snappers are supported by features, including a beauty mode for selfies, HDR, photo filters, and a picture-in-picture mode that uses both cameras simultaneously where one snapshot appears within the other. You also get a Fix Me option that gives you quick access to exposure, contrast, white balance and ISO. This kind of customization runs deep within Eluga Icon.
In Settings, you can configure up to eight gestures to launch apps, like tracing the alphabet ‘E’ on the screen to activate e-mail or ‘C’ for camera. You can also change colour temperature and use presets like vivid and night mode for screen display; audio profiles come with enhancers for earphones, volume booster for speakers and for surround-sound; a scheduler to switch the phone on and off at a fixed time, and more. Besides, on a single charge, you can get a full day of work done, without any hassles.
Buy Panasonic Eluga Icon if you want a fully-customizable device that’s supported by powerful hardware and a huge amount of extra features.
Gionee Marathon M4 has a metallic frame and is heaviest of all the handsets reviewed here. That said, its added heft gives Sit a solid feel while its compact form factor allows for single-handed use. The super AMOLED display on this device is bright and renders standout colours, but sadly its glass is not scratch-resistant and neither does it come with backlit navigation controls.
When it comes to processing power, the M4 performs slightly better than Moto G (Gen 3) and Asus ZenFone 2 Laser, but not as well as YU Yureka Plus and Panasonic Eluga Icon. Still, it handles Full HD clips and 3D games like Asphalt and Real Football 2015 effortlessly.
Phone calls are clear, its speaker is loud and its music player includes audio equalizer settings for different kinds of earphones.
The M4 has a lower megapixel rear camera when compared to the Asus and Panasonic. However, it is capable of sharp pictures with adequate detail, albeit with some over-saturation. Its front camera is not as wide-angled as Asus Zenfone 2 Laser’s, but it takes sharp selfies. Overall, its cameras are a bit slow to focus, but this is not a huge issue. You get a number of picture modes including Face Beauty for selfies, HDR, Night and PicNote.
Amigo, Marathon M4’s customized user interface, includes some nifty features like Fake Call, gestures to browse pictures without touching the screen, and a ‘Chameleon’ tool that lets you use the rear camera to select the colour palette you want your homescreen to use. But the best part about the smartphone is its 5,000mAh battery, which is capable of giving over two days of service without requiring a charge.
Buy Gionee Marathon M4 if you want a device with top-class battery life that runs a couple of days at least on a single charge and is powerful enough for some gaming and Full HD movies.