The year 2017 saw the smartphone market in India witness several new handsets being launched in the upper mid-range segment. In case you are not aware, upper mid-range handsets typically consist of smartphones that are priced anywhere between the Rs. 16,000 and Rs.25,000 price bracket. While not as competitive as lower mid-range segment (phones priced between Rs.10,000 and Rs.15,000), almost all smartphone makers including the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG have a presence in this segment.
In this feature, we will take a look at a select bunch of handsets that were launched in India in this price segment in 2017. These handsets were shortlisted to be included in this shootout because of their above average performance, user-reviews and overall value for money proposition. By the end of the article, we would have chosen three winners from these shortlisted handsets. Since there can only be one winner, we will award the three best phones in this segment with our Golden, Silver and Bronze awards. Note that some of the handsets that were launched in this price segment have since then slid down the price bracket and are now available for purchase at a slightly lesser price. However, for posterity’s sake, we have included some of these handsets in this list. Some of the handsets in this list are also priced at Rs.15,999 which we will consider as Rs.16,000 to make things a bit simpler
With that mandatory explanation out of our way, let us check out the list of shortlisted handsets for this segment.
Let us now take a closer look at each of these handsets, shall we?
The Honor 7X is a fairly new entrant into this segment having launched the handset a little less than a month ago in India. Like in the case of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 that has multiple versions of the device spread across different price segments, the Honor 7X is also offered in two versions, a 4GB + 32GB version for Rs. 12,999 and the more expensive 4GB + 64GB variant for Rs.15,999. In this article, we will only talk about the 64GB variant of the phone since that is the variant relevant to this article.
The Honor 7X is among the most affordable smartphones to feature an 18:9 display and boasts of a large 5.93-inch, 1080 x 2160 panel. Like its predecessor the Honor 6X, the Honor 7X also gets a dual camera set up at the rear (16MP+2MP) that promises above average imaging capabilities. There is also an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. Like other Honor and Huawei branded smartphones, the Honor 7X finds itself powered by the company’s own Kirin 659 chipset. This version, as you might be already aware, ships with 4GB of RAM and has 64GB of storage space. The handset also gets a hybrid SIM tray that can accept a microSD card + SIM or a SIM+SIM depending on how you plan to use the device. A 3340 mAh battery is potent enough to keep the smartphone running for the better part of the day in case you happen to be a heavy user.
Motorola Moto X4
Launched just a month ago, the Motorola Moto X4 is offered in two variants – a 3GB RAM, 32GB storage version for Rs.20,999 and a 4GB RAM, 64GB version for Rs.22,999. The Moto X4 finds itself powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 chip. The handset apart from boasting of a sleek glass and metal design, also happens to be IP68 water resistant. This is a feature that is not usually found on smartphones in this price segment. On the software front, the Moto X4 offers its users a near stock Android experience which a large percentage of users have traditionally preferred. While the handset gets a decently sized 3000mAh battery, the standout feature is its support for Motorola’s TurboCharge feature that ensures that the charging process is quick and hassle-free.
The Honor 9i is a rather strange entry into this list. While the 9i was launched in India before the Honor 7X was, both the handsets look extremely similar. In other markets, Huawei sells the Honor 9i under the Huawei brand name as the Huawei Mate 10 Lite. Like I mentioned earlier, the Honor 9i is essentially the Honor 7X with an additional front-facing camera. You heard that right. The Honor 9i has a total of four cameras – two at the rear and two at the front – making it one of the few handsets on the planet to feature a quad camera setup. The rest of the spec sheet of the handset is virtually identical to that of the Honor 7X about which you already know. The easiest way to differentiate between the Honor 7X and the Honor 9i is to take a look at their rear panels. While the Honor 7X gets a side-by-side dual camera arrangement, the Honor 9i cameras are set up vertically. The dual camera set up on the front panel of the Honor 9i is also a dead giveaway. Unlike the Honor 7X, though, the Honor 9i is offered only in a single version that will set you back By Rs.17,999.
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
Tthe Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) was officially unveiled by the Korean smartphone giant back in January 2017. The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) finds itself powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 7880 chipset. The phone boasts of a 5.7-inch, Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen at the front and comes in a single version – a 3GB RAM, 32GB storage version that. At the time of its launch, the Samsung Galaxy A7 was priced at Rs.34,990. However, the handset received several price cuts over the course of the last 12 months and is right now available for purchase for as low as Rs. 20,999 officially from Samsung. The Galaxy A7 is the only smartphone on this list other than the Moto X4 to feature iP68 water resistance. The handset is equipped with 16-megapixel cameras at the front and the rear. Like many other mid-range Samsung smartphones, the Galaxy A7 (2017) also supports dual SIM cards.
Oppo F3 Plus
Strange as it may seem, we do have an Oppo smartphone on our list of best upper mid-range handsets. Launched earlier this year, the Oppo F3 Plus finds its way into this list because of its slashed price tag. The handset is now offered in two versions a 4GB/64GB version and a 6GB/64GB version. Originally launched for Rs. 30,999, the Oppo F3 Plus is now available as little as Rs. 22,990. The Oppo F3 Plus is also one of the rare handsets from the company to feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor – in this case – a Qualcomm Snapdragon 653 chipset. The handset boasts of a 6-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display. Powering the handset is a large 4100 mAh battery with support for Oppo’s proprietary VOOC fast charging technology. For imaging, the Oppo F3 Plus uses a 16-megapixel + 8-megapixel setup at the front and a single 16-megapixel primary shooter at the rear.
Xiaomi Mi Max 2
The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 was announced earlier this year in May as a successor to the original Mi Max. The official launch of the device in India happened in July. The Mi Max 2 is a phablet-sized device that features a 6.44-inch full-HD display, and a large 5300 mAh battery. The phone boasts of a 12-megapixel primary camera that uses Sony’s IMX386 sensor. The phone also gets a 5-megapixel front shooter. The handset originally came in a single variant – 4GB/64GB but is now available in a 4GB/32GB variant as well. The lower priced version, however, falls under the Rs.16,000 mark and for the same reason is excluded from this comparison. The 4GB/64GB version is priced just under Rs.16,000.
Of these seven handsets, we chose the following three handsets as our winners.
Gold Award – Motorola Moto X4
It was not a difficult task to choose the Moto X4 as this year’s best upper-mid-range smartphone. While there are several handsets in this segment that are priced lower than the Moto X4, you do get a comprehensive feature-set with this phone. The fact that it runs near stock Android, supports fast charging and is water resistant as well only strengthens its position as the winner of the Golden award for the best upper mid-range smartphone of 2017.
Silver Award – Xiaomi Mi Max 2
The Mi Max series from Xiaomi has always been one of our favourites in the upper mid-range segment. Like its predecessor, the Mi Max 2 is a feature-packed handset that ticks almost all the right boxes. In fact, we liked the handset so much, we are borderline depressed it did not win this one. But guess what? The Mi Max 2 is the winner of the Silver award for the best upper mid-range smartphone of 2017.
Bronze Award – Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) is a bit of an oddball entry to this segment. While it was launched in an altogether different price bracket at the time of its launch earlier this year, thanks to a series of price cuts, it now finds itself comfortably nestled in the upper mid-range segment. The reduced price of the handset and the recent update to Android 7.0 Nougat along with the fact that it also happens to be IP68 water and dust resistant makes it a compelling purchase even now. The Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) therefore wins the Bronze award for the best upper mid-range smartphone of 2017