Entry-level smartphones have been getting better each passing day. And 2019 stands testament for that. Features such as thin bezels, fancy gradient back, biometric sensors, fast-charging, once reserved for mid-range and high-end categories are now easily available at a bargain price. Not because the brands are becoming generous, but the fact that this price segment is highly competitive. Especially, Xiaomi and BBK Electronics helped trickle-down many premium features in order to outdo each other. For those not in the know, BBK Electronics is the parent company behind Realme, Oppo, Vivo, and OnePlus. Huawei’s Honor and the Taiwanese brand Asus was mostly missing from action in the entry-level segment. On the other hand, newly revived Nokia raised the bar for build quality. Under the house of HMD, the iconic Finnish brand has proved that cheap phones don’t have to be flimsy. As the year-end is around the corner, we look back at the landmark devices priced under Rs 10,000. And before we choose the best entry-level handset from 2019, let us run you through the nominations:
The newest member in the list, the Realme 5s is a worthy competitor to Xiaomi’s budget phones. It features a sleek design with a splash-resistant body. The phone sports a 6.5-inch IPS (In-Plane Display) with HD+ resolution. Backed by Qualcomm’s tried and tested Snapdragon 665 chipset, the phone runs smooth. Its Adreno 610 GPU is good enough to handle popular games at medium settings. It comes with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB storage. Moreover, you get a dedicated microSD card slot. Moving onto the optics, the phone is equipped with a quad-camera setup at the back. It features a 48 MP main snapper accompanied by an 8 MP wide-angle lens, a 2 MP macro, and 2 MP depth sensor. If you like clicking selfies, the onboard 13 MP shooter should get the job done for you. To save you from the hassle of charging the phone too often, the Realme 5S packs-in a 5,000 mAh battery. The company has also baked in 5,000 mAh fast charging capability. Among other things, you get a 3.5 mm headphone jack, 4G VoLTE support, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, A-GPS (network assisted).
Lenovo K10 Note
The most powerful phone on this list comes from Lenovo. The K10 Note backed by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 710 chip. It houses two Kryo 360 Gold cores peaking at 2.2 GHz and six power-efficient Kryo 360 Silver cores. Thanks to the Adreno 616 GPU, the device lets you enjoy games such as PUBG and Call of Duty. To handle multitasking, the Lenovo k10 Note relies on 4 GB RAM. You can expand it further via a microSD card slot. Lenovo has thrown in a 6.3-inch Full HD+ display. The IPS panel has a dewdrop notch to accommodate a 16 MP selfie camera. Moving around the back, you get a triple camera in 16 MP + 8 MP + 2 MP configuration. It is 4G VoLTE handset with support for two SIM cards. Other connectivity features include dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, and A-GPS. The phone packs in a 4050 mAh battery. The retail package includes an 18 W charger to quickly juice up the K10 Note. The device squeezes in all the impressive hardware in a sleek body. And keeping with the current trend, the handset features a gradient paint job.
Redmi Note 8
In the last few years, Xioami has consistently set new benchmarks for design and build. And its latest entrant, the Redmi Note 8 is no exception. The phone’s impressive design is complemented by its premium glass back. The handset comes with a Full HD+ 6.3-inch display. The panel is certified by an independent German authority TÜV Rheinland. On the inside, you get Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 665 chip with Adreno 610 GPU. The Note 8 houses 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB internal storage. For the shutterbugs, Xiaomi offers a quad-camera setup at the rear. Despite its budget price, the phone packs in a 48 MP main sensor. To keep it a company, you get an 8 MP wide lens, 2 MP macro, and 2 MP depth sensor. For selfies, you get a 13 MP front-facing shooter. Other features include 4G VoLTE, dual-band Wi-Fi, A-GPS (network assisted), and a 3.5 mm headphone. The phone’s 4,000 mAh battery comes with 18 W fast-charging support.
Vivo brings the fancy gradient design to the budget segment with its U10 smartphone. Although it features a plastic, body, the handset interestingly reflects the light. The Vivo U10 features a 6.3-inch HD+ IPS display. At the heart of the handset is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 665 chip. This 11 nm SoC (System on Chip) comprises of four Kryo 260 Gold and four power-efficient Kryo 260 silver cores. For gaming, it relies on its Adreno 610 GPU. In the optics department, the phone can capture the moments using its 13 MP rear camera accompanied by an 8 MP wide-angle lens and a 2 MP depth sensor. Selfie aficionados have to settle for an 8 MP front-facing shooter. At max settings, the device can record Full HD videos at 30 fps. It duly covers 4G VoLTE support, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, A-GPS, and a fingerprint sensor. Its 5,000 mAh battery comes with 18 W fast-charging support. On the software side of things, you get Funtouch OS 9 built upon Android 9.0 Pie.
Samsung Galaxy M10s
If you thought you can’t get a phone with AMOLED display on budget, meet the Galaxy M10s. In an attempt to regain its lost market share, Samsung is playing to its strength. The Korean company is delivering an HD+ AMOLED panel without crossing the 10k mark. The 6.4-inch screen packs in 1560 x 720 pixels and has a V-shaped notch. At the heart of the handset is Samsung’s in-house Exynos 7884B chipset. This 14 nm chip is coupled with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage. Moreover, you can add up to 1 TB via the microSD card slot. In the photography department, Samsung has gone with a 13 MP rear camera paired with a 5 MP wide-angle lens. For selfies, you get an 8 MP camera front-facing snapper. On the connectivity front, you get 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, 3.5 mm headphone jack, and A-GPS (network assisted). The handset features a rear fingerprint sensor. The Galaxy M10s packs in a 4,000 mAh battery. Samsung has bundled a 15W fast charger in the retail package. On the software side of things, you get Samsung’s One UI on top of Android 9.0 Pie.
Best Entry-Level Smartphone 2019 – Winners
With such a solid line-up, it hasn’t been easy to choose a winner. After days of bickering in the office, we finally zeroed in on top phone under Rs 10,000.
Gold Award: Redmi Note 8
The Redmi Note 8 is not the most powerful handset on this list. It doesn’t pack in a high capacity battery. Yet, Xiaomi’s entry-level smartphone takes the throne because it finds the right balance between style and substance. In the looks department, the Redmi Note 8 can easily pass as a mid-range smartphone. Its glass sandwich design feels premium to hold. On the inside, it comes with a capable Snapdragon 665 chip, which delivers consistent performance. Owing to its quad-camera setup, the phone punches above its weight in the photography department. You also get 18 W fast charging support. Overall, for Rs 10,000, you get more than you bargain for.
Silver Award: Lenovo K10 Note
Expecting good gaming experience is generally too much to ask for from an entry-level smartphone. However, the Lenovo K10 Note is an outlier. Backed by the Snapdragon 710 chip, the phone can effortlessly handle PUBG and Call of Duty at pretty high settings. Lenovo hasn’t cut any corners in other areas, as the K10 Note packs in a Full HD+ display and triple camera setup. Compared to its predecessor, the K10 Note brings a trendy new design too. All in all, it is the most underrated affordable smartphone of 2019.
Bronze Award: Realme 5s
For the entire year, Realme gave Xiaomi a run for its money. With its Snapdragon 665 chipset and quad-camera setup, the handset takes the Realme Note 8 head-on. In fact, it gets an edge in the battery department owing to its 5,000 mAh capacity. Had its display not capped at HD+ resolution, the Realme 5s had the potential to sit higher in this list. But hey, being a second runner up among hundreds of phones unleased every year, is not a small feat after all.