Over the years, India has become one of the biggest smartphone markets in the world after China and the USA. The explosion of handheld devices means that there are many who are on the net for the first time. The growth has largely been in the affordable devices segment, as the premium segment (above $500) was already reaching saturation point. What all this has meant, is that vendors big and small have been vying to get a foothold in the market, thereby increasing competition and reducing prices. Today, we'll take a look at the best phones available in the Indian market for the price as of April 2015. Let's start from the most affordable and work our way up.
Karbonn Sparkle V
The Karbonn Sparkle V is by far the cheapest smartphone that we can recommend as of now. It may not come from a multinational OEM, but it does come with Google specified hardware, and the promise of swift Android version updates for up to two years. It has already got the Android Lollipop update, something that's still missing from much more expensive devices from big name manufacturers. This device is currently the cheapest of the three Android One smartphones that were launched amidst a lot of fanfare last year, along with the Micromax A1 and the Spice Dream Uno. All these three devices come with a 4.5-inch FWVGA (960 x540) screen each, a Mediatek 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 1GB RAM and 4 GB internal storage. The cameras are 5-megapixel on the rear and 2-megapixel on the front and it comes with a price tag of around Rs. 4,500 ($75) on Flipkart.
Asus ZenFone 4
The Asus ZenFone 4 might have been launched last year, but it packs enough punch to push its way into this countdown. It comes with great hardware and the assurance of the Asus brand. Considering it just costs Rs. 5,300 ($85) it's a bargain that's hard to miss. The ZenFone 4 comes with Intel's Z2520 dual-core processor clocked at 1.2 GHz and has 1 GB RAM and 8 GB storage. The rear camera is an 8-megapixel one and the front camera is of the 2-megapixel variety. The phone is available exclusively on Flipkart.
Xiaomi Redmi 2
An able successor to the 1st generation Redmi, this one comes with a 4.7-inch HD screen and is powered by a 64-Bit Snapdragon 410 SoC. It has 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage and the phone comes with an 8-megapixel shooter on the back, which is by far the best camera in its category. If the slightly smaller screen is not a deal breaker, the Xiaomi Redmi 2 is the one for you in the Rs. 7,000 ($110) category. Available exclusively on Flipkart through the flash sale model.
Lenovo A6000 Plus
Recently released for only Rs. 500 ($8) above the Lenovo A6000, this one comes with an extra Gig of RAM and double the storage capacity compared to its cheaper sibling. Everything else stays the same. A 64-Bit Snapdragon 410 SoC and a 5-inch 720p screen make the Lenovo A6000 Plus one of the best value-for-money devices across the spectrum. Not to mention it is by far the cheapest device in India with LTE support. Priced at Rs. 7,499 ($120) and available exclusively on online retailer Flipkart.
Asus ZenFone 5
The first generation ZenFone series phones might be getting a bit long in their teeth, now that the second generation is already up for grabs, but they've still got plenty of gas left in their tanks. Running on Intel's second generation Clover Trail Plus processor, the Asus ZenFone 5 is still a capable device. With 2 GB RAM for effortless multitasking and a bright 5-inch 720p screen with wide viewing angles for media consumption, this old warhorse still has some fight left in it. Availability on Flipkart starts from Rs. 7,999 ($130).
The all-new brand from Micromax has already created quite a buzz all over. The Yu Yureka beats any other device in its price category hands down with class-leading hardware. It comes with a 5.5-inch HD 720p screen and is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 615 chipset. It has 2GB RAM and 16 GB storage. The rear camera is a 13-megapixel one and the front selfie-cam is of the 5-megapixel variety. But that spec sheet, impressive as it is, is not even its USP. That would be the Cyanogen OS that's running on the phone. All of that can be yours' only for Rs. 9,000 ($145). It is available exclusively on Amazon India. If it is value that you seek, look no further.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G
This one is a great bargain if you're looking for a large screen, well-specced LTE device for not a whole lot of cash. It comes with a large 5.5-inch 720p screen, and runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 SoC with 2 GB RAM and 8 GB storage. It comes with a 13-megapixel camera and boasts LTE connectivity - its biggest USP. All for a price of Rs. 10,000 ($160). The Xiaomi Redmi Note is also available exclusively on Flipkart, as are all Xiaomi devices for now.
Xiaomi Mi 4i
The just released mid-ranger from Xiaomi, the Mi 4i is a well-appointed device that runs on a Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor and comes with a 5-inch 1080p display, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB storage, a 13MP rear camera, 4G LTE support & Android Lollipop. Available for Rs. 12,999 ($205) from Flipkart.
Motorola Moto G (Second Gen)
The first generation Moto G was a runaway success for Motorola because of the quality hardware it packed at such an affordable price. The game has moved on since, but the second generation mid-range warrior for Motorola is still a device worth considering. It comes with a 5-inch 720p screen and runs on a Snapdragon 410 SoC. The Moto G 2014 also comes with 1GB RAM and 16 GB storage. It packs enough punch to make it a contender in its category. It is also priced at Rs. 12,999 ($205) like the Mi 4i and is also available exclusively on Flipkart.
Asus ZenFone 2
This recently released phone is a virtual no-brainer for anyone with a budget between Rs. 10, 000 ($160) and Rs. 20,000 ($320). There are four models of the Asus ZenFone 2 released in the market with confusing nomenclature, but the best value for money are the ones in the middle of the price spectrum. Both of these are named the ZE551ML and both come with gorgeous 5.5-inch 1080p displays. The cheaper one however has only 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage, while the one that costs 20 grand comes with 4 GB RAM and 32 GB storage. The 2 GB version also runs on a quad-core Z3560 Atom processor from Intel that's clocked at 1.8 GHz, while the 4 GB variant runs on the Z3580, that's clocked at 2.3 GHz. The two variants come for Rs. 15,000 ($240) and Rs. 20,000 ($320) and both are available exclusively on Flipkart along with two other variants of the phone.
Once called the 'flagship killer' for its second-to-none spec sheet, the OnePlus One may be considered a generation old, but it still is one of the most powerful devices in the market across the spectrum. It boasts a Snapdragon 801 processor, 3 GB of RAM and as much as 64 GB of storage. The display measures 5.5-inch with a 1080p resolution, and comes with a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera. The OnePlus One comes with Cyanogen OS 11 based on Android Kit Kat and it has already gotten the Lollipop update. It comes with 4G LTE, NFC and USB-OTG support. It is available to buy from Amazon India for Rs. 22,000 ($350).
Xiaomi Mi 4
While the Xiaomi Mi 4 is significantly more expensive than the last generation Xiaomi flagship, it is still an extremely powerful device, running on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC and rocking 3 GB of RAM with 64 GB of storage space. The Xiaomi Mi 4 does have an 8-megapixel selfie-cam and a 13-megapixel rear cam and runs Android 4.4 Kit Kat based MIUI 6. The phone costs Rs. 22,000 ($350) and is available on Flipkart.
Samsung Galaxy S5
The biggest Android device manufacturer on the planet has had to wait thus far to be included in the list mainly because their entry-level and mid-range offerings are just not that appealing to buyers any longer, with so much competition from companies as diverse as Motorola and Asus. But the Galaxy S5 is more than a worthy competitor against all its rivals. It may be the last generation flagship, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is still one of the best devices under $500. It comes with a 5.2-inch 1080p Super AMOLED screen, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB storage, a 16-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel selfie-cam. It runs on an octa-core Exynos processor and comes with a heart-rate sensor and a fingerprint scanner. It costs Rs. 26,000 ($420) on eBay India.
Motorola Moto X (Second Gen)
The second generation of Motorola's flagship might cost significantly more than the first gen, but then again, it does come with much improved hardware as well. It comes with an OLED 5.2-inch 1080p display and runs on a Snapdragon 801 SoC with a Krait 400 CPU clocked at 2.5 GHz. It has 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage and its cameras are 13-megapixel on the rear and 2-megapixel on the front. The Moto X 2014 costs Rs. 30,000 ($480) and is sold exclusively on Flipkart.
Sony Xperia Z3
Sony's Xperia Z3 is yet another flagship smartphone from the last generation, which has been trumped by the announcement of the Z4 just days ago . But what that has meant, is that it has now become great value with the successive price-cuts it has received as Sony tries to move their stocks with the impending launch of the Z4 in India. The phone comes with a 5.2-inch Full-HD display, a Snapdragon 801 SoC, 3 GB RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. The cameras are 20.7-megapixel on the rear and 2.2-megapixel on the front and while it runs on Android 4.4 Kit Kat out of the box, the Lollipop update has already been available for a while. What all that has meant, is that it is now a terrific value for money device, costing Rs. 34,776 ($550) on eBay India.
LG might be about to launch their next generation flagship, the G4, but that doesn't make their last gen flagship any less desirable. In fact, with the impeding price cuts that the G4 launch will surely bring about, the LG G3 will probably become an even better purchase than it is already with the multiple price corrections that it has gone through over the past few months. The phone carries a 5.5-inch QHD screen (2560 x 1440) and is powered by a Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor. The phone comes with 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 2.1 megapixel front camera, NFC, LTE and an IR blaster. Currently, it can be had for Rs. 32,000 ($510) on eBay India.
Motorola Moto Turbo
The Motorola Droid Turbo, marketed as the Moto Turbo in India, is in theory, a more powerful device than the Moto X. It runs on a Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor clocked at 2.7 GHz, and comes with 3 GB RAM and 64 GB ROM. The display is of the 5.2-inch Quad HD variety and it has a 21 megapixel rear camera that's capable of shooting 4K videos, while the front camera is 5-megapixel. The phone supports NFC and 4G, and comes with an IR blaster. It is available exclusively on Flipkart and costs Rs. 42,000 ($675).
The Nexus 6 is the current generation flagship from Google. It features a giant 6-inch QHD AMOLED screen, and comes with a Snapdragon 805 quad-core chipset, clocked at 2.7 GHz. It has 3GB RAM, 32 GB storage, 13-megapixel primary camera and 2-megapixel secondary camera. It also comes with NFC, LTE, and Qi wireless charging. The device costs 44,000 ($700) and is available on the Play Store as well as on Flipkart.
Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge
Samsung's latest flagships have been received much better than their previous generation avatars were. The S6 however looks positively plain-vanilla when seen next to the futuristic, curved screened S6 Edge. Both the phones come with pretty much identical specifications, barring the software tweak to account for the curved edge. Both of them come with Samsung's in-house Exynos 7420 chipset with an octa-core processor. They each have 3 GB RAM, 64 GB ROM, a 13-megapixel rear cam, a 5-megapixel front cam and comes with a fingerprint scanner and wireless charging. The twins are priced on the higher side, but if money's not a factor, these are some of the best devices on the market right now - especially with the uniqueness that come with the Edge variant. The Galaxy S6 costs around Rs. 57,000 ($900) and the S6 Edge costs around Rs. 63,000 ($1,000).
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge
Last but definitely not the least, comes Samsung's flagship phablets. Both the Note twins come with very similar specifications, apart from the processor and the screen size. Both the phones have QHD screens, however, the Note 4 has a slightly larger 5.7-inch display, compared to the Note Edge, that has 'only' a 5.6-inch screen. The phones have 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, LTE connectivity, and the cameras are 16-megapixel on the rear and 3.7-megapixel on the front. The processor on the Note 4 is an Exynos 5433 for the Indian version, whereas the Edge comes with Snapdragon 805. The phones will set you back a pretty penny but the Edge especially comes with a unique selling point that is its curved side. The Note 4 comes for Rs 52,000 ($830) and the Note Edge will set you back by Rs. 65,000 ($1,030). Both the phones are available in retail stores as well as online.