It’s been an action-packed couple of months in the Indian smartphone space and we now have some really good new phones launched starting at under Rs. 20,000. Realme introduced new phones in its primary number series as well as its X series, two of which have made the cut for this list. Xiaomi recently came in with a solid one-two punch with the Redmi Note 10 series, which has essentially set a new bar for the kind of features one can expect in this segment. We’ve had to make some cuts from our previous list, but have retained a few slightly older models, which we feel are still worth your attention.
If you have a budget of Rs. 20,000, here are some of the best smartphones that you should be considering for your next purchase.
Best phones under 20,000
|Phones under Rs. 20,000
|Gadgets 360 rating (out of 10)
|Price in India (as recommended)
|Realme 8 Pro
|Redmi Note 10 Pro Max
|Realme Narzo 30 Pro 5G
|Realme X7 5G
|Infinix Zero 8i
|Realme 7 Pro
|Samsung Galaxy M31
Realme 8 Pro
The Realme 8 Pro had some big shoes to fill, considering the Realme 7 Pro was a pretty solid offering and continues to find a spot on this list. The lower starting price of Rs. 17,999 definitely works in its favour along with other positives such as very good battery life, fast charging, a sharp and vivid AMOLED display, and a pretty decent selfie camera.
However, although this is supposed to be the successor to the Realme 7 Pro, the company has gone in a different direction and so it’s missing a few features. You lose the stereo speakers, which we think is a big miss. There’s no high refresh rate for the display, and despite having a 108-megapixel camera, its performance is still underwhelming. Not to mention the spammy nature of some of the pre-installed apps in Realme UI 2.0, which can be pretty annoying. It’s still a good offering overall, just not what we expected.
Redmi Note 10 Pro Max
The Redmi Note series has always stood for value, offering features that are a step or two up from the Redmi series while still remaining affordable enough for most people. The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max raises the bar by offering segment-leading features such as a 120Hz Super AMOLED display, a 108-megapixel main camera, a massive battery, and stereo speakers. It’s a powerful smartphone too thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G SoC. In our review, we found the display to be excellent. The surprisingly useful macro camera, stylish design, and IP53 rating for dust and water resistance are also big selling points.
A few areas that we feel could improve with future software updates are the low-light camera performance, and the annoying bloat and promotional content in the software that we experienced at launch time. We also need to give a quick shout-out to the Redmi Note 10 Pro, which is basically identical to the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max except for its lower-resolution main rear camera, and is priced lower by Rs. 3,000.
Realme Narzo 30 Pro 5G
One of the goals for the Realme Narzo 30 Pro 5G was to be the most affordable 5G smartphone in India, and it is. With a starting price of Rs. 16,999, it features MediaTek’s Dimensity 700U SoC which we generally see in phones costing well above Rs. 20,000. Other things working in its favour include very good battery life and fast charging, a 120Hz display, and snappy overall performance.
The Realme Narzo 30 Pro 5G does have the known issue of subjecting you to unwanted notifications from its stock apps, which can get annoying quickly. We also found low-light camera performance to be a bit lacking, and the overall design is a bit too bland for our taste given Realme’s propensity for offering patterns on the backs of its phones.
Realme X7 5G
The Realme X7 5G was the company’s most affordable 5G phone until the Narzo 30 Pro 5G came along. The X7 5G is designed to offer a premium experience without costing a lot, almost a “flagship killer”, if you will. Powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 800U SoC and with the option of a swanky colorway that’s sure to get you noticed, it offers strong overall performance, great battery life with fast charging, and most importantly, good value for money. It’s also a light and compact smartphone which isn’t something we see a lot of these days.
Realme UI can get spammy real quick, if you haven’t already unchecked the necessary boxes in the stock apps. We also found the low-light camera performance to be a bit on the weaker side.
Infinix Zero 8i
Infinix has been launching new smartphones this year at a far greater rate than we can keep up with. However, we did manage to test one its more unique ones — the Zero 8i — which is worth considering in this budget segment. Some of its strong points include a snappy MediaTek Helio G90T SoC, a 90Hz display refresh rate, and a set of cameras that work well provided the light is good. It also boasts of a rather unique design on the back, which helps it stand out from the competition. It’s one of the few phones in this segment to offer an ultra-wide-angle selfie camera, which we hope to see others adopt.
A few things worth noting are that it is a little big and unwieldy, there is lots of preinstalled bloatware, and the camera focus was a bit iffy at times with close-up shots. If you’re looking for something other than a Xiaomi or a Realme, we think it’s worth a look.
Realme 7 Pro
The Realme 7 Pro has some compelling features such as an AMOLED display, 65W fast charging, and stereo speakers, and continues to be a good choice in this segment. The phone is also fairly slim and light, which is a nice bonus. It runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G SoC, so performance is more than good enough for everyday use.
The primary rear camera is quite decent too. While the Realme 8 Pro has now been launched, this model still offers great value for money.
Samsung Galaxy M31
The Samsung Galaxy M31 is still a compelling option in this segment, and is now available at a slightly reduced price. This model has a 6.4-inch full-HD+ AMOLED display that delivers vivid colours and very good viewing angles. There is a quad-camera setup at the back with a 64-megapixel primary camera. It also packs in a big 6,000mAh battery and a capable Exynos 9611 SoC.
The big battery offers fantastic battery life and this phone could easily go on for two days with our usage. The cameras are good in daylight, the wide-angle one offers a wider field of view but loses out on details compared to the primary camera. With Night mode enabled, the Galaxy M31 delivers better low-light shots. The Exynos 9611 SoC is not as powerful as what the competition offers but it is capable of handling day-to-day tasks with ease. Battery life is the main highlight of the Galaxy M31 as it can outrun several devices on this list.
The mid-range Poco X3 is based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G SoC, and boasts of a 6,000mAh battery as well as a 6.67-inch full-HD+ display. This phone is relatively bulky and heavy but the design is relatively fresh, with a very prominent camera module on the back. You do get IP53 water and dust resistance.
Performance is good overall, and so is battery life. This is a good option for gaming and entertainment. The cameras are also adequate for everyday use. If you don’t mind a slightly bulky smartphone, the Poco X3 still offers plenty of value for money.
Is OnePlus 9R old wine in a new bottle — or something more? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Later (starting at 23:00), we talk about the new OnePlus Watch. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.