Best Phones of 2018: The Budget Smartphones We Loved This Year

Best Phones of 2018: The Budget Smartphones We Loved This Year

Realme dominates our list of best budget phones of 2018

  • Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 manages to hit multiple price points
  • Xiaomi Mi A2 offers good hardware and stock software
  • The Xiaomi Redmi 6A offers good value on a strict budget

We have seen a lot of smartphone launches this year across different price segments. But the segment that has seen the most amount of action is the budget segment. Here manufacturers have constantly tried to outdo each other fighting for the top spot. As a result, we have seen quite a lot of smartphones in the sub Rs. 15,000 budget segment. Here is a list of some of the best budget smartphones to hit the Indian market in 2018.

Here are the top 10 budget smartphones of 2018 based on how they performed in our tests, and the value for money proposition that they offered.

Best budget phones of 2018


Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1
Asus has been quite aggressive this year and one of its most popular product is the ZenFone Max Pro M1. This smartphone was launched to compete with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro and offers a powerful Snapdragon 636 processor. There are multiple RAM and storage variants to choose from and users opting for the higher 6GB RAM /64GB storage variant also got better cameras.

The ZenFone Max Pro M1 also gained popularity because of its good build quality and a vibrant display. Asus also managed to plonk in a 5000mAh battery while keeping the weight down. What we weren't fond of when we reviewed the device was the awkward camera app and a relatively disappointing battery life, which seems to have improved after a few software updates.



Realme 1
Realme started off as a sub-brand of Oppo but soon went on to become an independent company. The Realme 1 is the first smartphone from the company and it managed to make a significant impact on the market. Powered by a MediaTek Helio P60 SoC, the Realme 1 undercut a lot of smartphones. Realme launched the 1 with a price tag of Rs. 8,990 for the 3GB RAM/32GB storage.

The Realme 1 has a unique design and the 3410mAh battery delivers good battery life. It offers very good value for money but lacks a fingerprint scanner, has a cluttered OS and average cameras. Sadly, Realme discontinued the base 3GB variant of the 1 making the 4GB variant the base model at Rs. 10,990.



Realme 2 Pro
Realme used the same formula as the Realme 1 for the Realme 2 Pro. As a result, you get a powerful Snapdragon 660 processor and a big 3500mAh battery. Sticking to the new design trend, the Realme 2 Pro sports a dewdrop notch on the display. You can choose from three variants of the Realme 2 Pro which are 4GB RAM/64GB storage, 6GB RAM/64GB storage and 8GB RAM with 128GB storage.

It is also one of the few phones to offer 8GB of RAM under the Rs. 20,000 price point. The Realme 2 Pro starts at Rs. 13,999 and goes all the way up to 17,990 for the higher variants. It offers good build quality and quick face recognition but the laminated back scuffs easily and low-light camera performance is average.



Honor 8X
Honor launched the 8X to claim a piece of the pie in the budget segment. The stand out feature for this phone is the design. It is definitely well designed and manages to offer a premium feel compared to some other smartphones on this list. Huawei's Kirin 710 SoC is powering the Honor 8X which is a newer chip and performs better than the Snapdragon 636 and Snapdragon 660 powered devices.

Like most other phones on the list, the Honor 8X also has a notch on the display. What we did not like about the Honor 8X when we reviewed it was that it was bulky to use and the camera performance was average.



Nokia 5.1 Plus
HMD Global has been producing smartphones under the Nokia brand and targeting different segments. The Nokia 5.1 Plus was one of its smartphones in the budget segment that is well equipped to face the competition. Powered by a Helio P60 processor, it has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. HMD Global has priced it aggressively at Rs. 10,999 which makes it quite interesting.

The Nokia 5.1 Plus is a part of Google's Android One Programme and is guaranteed to receive software and security updates. The build quality of the smartphone is impressive and we liked that it sports a USB Type-C port. The hybrid-SIM slot and the camera performance is low-light are two of its shortcomings.



Xiaomi Mi A2
The Xiaomi Mi A2 came as a pleasant surprise as it offered a combination of Xiaomi's hardware and stock Android. It has a powerful Snapdragon 660 processor and comes in 4GB RAM and 6GB RAM variants. You get 64GB of storage and 128GB of storage respectively which isn't expandable further.

In typical Xiaomi fashion, the Mi A2 was priced aggressively at Rs. 16,999. We were impressed with the dual cameras on the Mi A2 which could click good photos in low-light. The battery capacity is low at 3000mAh and as a result, the phone has an average battery life.



Realme U1
Realme's third smartphone on this list, the U1 is a selfie-focused smartphone. It is also the first smartphone to sport the MediaTek Helio P70 processor in India. The Realme U1 has a dewdrop notch on its 6.3-inch display and comes in two variants; 3GB RAM with 32GB storage and 4GB RAM with 64GB storage.

It performs better than the Helio P60 processor as well as the Snapdragon 660 for CPU tests. We liked the camera performance in daylight and the quick face unlock feature on the Realme U1. However, we didn't like the low-light performance of the camera and the fact that it lacked 4K video recording and video stabilisation.



Xiaomi Redmi 6A
The Xiaomi Redmi 6A was launched as the successor to the popular Redmi 5A smartphone. Xiaomi priced its entry-level smartphone at Rs. 5,999 but the price was soon increased to Rs. 6,599 owing to the rupee-dollar fluctuations, before being slashed back to the original price. The Redmi 6A sports a bigger 18:9 display in a small body that is good-looking and comfortable to hold.

It is powered by a MediaTek Helio A22 processor and has 2GB of RAM. Buyers have the option to choose between 16GB and 32GB of storage. The Redmi 6A has support for dual 4G but VoLTE can only be supported at one SIM at a time. Just like other Xiaomi smartphones, there are too many ads on the smartphone.



Infinix Note 5
One of Infinix' first smartphone to be a part of Google's Android One programme, the Infinix Note 5 offers good value to buyers on a budget. Priced under Rs. 10,000 the Note 5 has a crisp and vivid display. It is powered by a MediaTek Helio P23 chip which offers good performance for the price.

We also liked the big 4500mAh battery which offered good battery life. What we didn't like about the Note 5 was the sub-par camera performance in low-light and the unreliable fingerprint scanner.



Xiaomi Redmi 6
The successor to a popular smartphone, the Xiaomi Redmi 5, the Redmi 6 is a fitting replacement. Xiaomi has opted for a MediaTek Helio P22 SoC and paired it with 3GB of RAM. Buyers have the option to choose between 32GB and 64GB of internal storage. You do get the option to expand storage up to 256GB via the dedicated microSD card slot.

The Redmi 6 is a dual-SIM phone with support for 4G as well as VoLTE on both SIM slots. We liked the build quality on the smartphone as well as the battery life that it offered. Something buyers need to keep in mind is that the low-light camera performance is below average and MIUI is a little spammy with notifications.


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