Xiaomi Redmi 3s/Prime, Note 3/ Moto G4 Play: Best smartphones under ₹10,000 in India (September 2016)

Until a few years ago, before Motorola launched the aggressively priced Moto E and the Moto G 2nd generation, if you were in the market looking for a decent budget smartphone there were plenty of options but each one of those smartphones almost yelled “I am cheap” at any one who looked. The internals weren’t so great either. Fast forward 2016, the two Moto phones brought a drastic change in the budget segment with many Chinese competitors jumping in.

Today, between ₹7,000 and ₹16,000 there is a flood of smartphones sporting premium builds and great bang to buck ratio in the Indian market. But the hardware doesn’t necessarily mean a great experience because ultimately it’s the software you’d be interacting with. This will not be like the other lists on the internet that simply list all the options you have under a certain budget as the best choices with specs. We already know the best choices you can make and we’ll go on over to convince you why exactly. 

Redmi 3s @ ₹6999


If ₹7000 is the maximum you can go, certainly, get a Redmi 3s and do not think twice about any Micromaxes or Coolpads or the Intex Aquas because you do not want to pay ₹7k for a phone and then have a slow light sensor or call drops and other minor but annoying bugs. As stated earlier, hardware does not matter if you don’t have a good software to go with it or quality assurance. The Redmi 3s has a sturdy build quality and certainly will not feel cheap. Xiaomi has carved out a good name for itself in the Indian market as well coming from China which is something we cannot say for the local brands or even other Chinese brands.

The Redmi 3s has a better than the competition camera, it’s quite average but for ₹7,000 you will not find anything better right now. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 clocked at 1.1GHz and it is an Octa-core processor but don’t count on these marketing gimmicks. It’s an entry-level processor at best and this is the best you will get at this price point. That’s not to say it is a weak processor. With 2GB RAM and 16GB storage, the Redmi 3s performs daily tasks and the casual multitasking quite efficiently. It even performs well in gaming with only the heavier games like Asphalt 8 showing some frame drops and you can’tplay N.O.V.A. 3 on this thing but there’s only so much you can get for this price.

Although, as is always the case with Xiaomi, Samsung, LG, or other Chinese manufacturers, the heavy skinning bogs down the performance that could have been with a stock looking android.The Nexus 5, a 3-year-old device runs without hiccups even today with just 2 gigs of ram. That’s how smooth and less resource hungry stock android is compared to MIUI. But if you can live with Xiaomi’s MIUI which does have some useful tricks up its sleeve and you don’t mind the obvious iOS like interface this is a very good device.

If you can wait however, it’s best to wait because Lenovo will soon be launching the next generation of Moto E in India in the coming months.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 @ ₹9999 / Redmi 3s Prime @ ₹8999

Redmi Note 3

If you have a slightly higher budget you can consider both the Redmi 3s Prime and the Redmi Note 3. The Note 3 is a clear winner in terms of camera and performance and it has a better CPU/GPU configuration over the Redmi 3s Prime but unfortunately, for paying another extra thousand over the 3s Prime you get 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage in the Note 3 where as the Redmi 3s Prime offers you 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage at a lesser price.

So it’s on you to decide if you need that slightly better camera and even more slightly better performance. We’d recommend if you can squeeze out a little more cash go with the 32GB variant of the Note 3 which is around ₹11,999 but if your budget is strictly ₹10,000 you have a difficult choice to make. Once again, we’d say wait for the Moto E.

Under 10,000 indian rupees these three are your best choices, and yes, all three are Xiaomi but Xiaomi has not paid for this, we wish, but no and nor is this in any way biased. If anything we are biased towards you, the consumer who has to live with these devices.  Nobody wants a phone with a buggy software. These aren’t the compromises you would want to make. Right now the Xiaomi offerings are just as good as the others in the hardware department and better in terms of software optimization.

Also the thing with Xiaomi’s MIUI is it is so heavily skinned that you don’t have to worry about official Android updates. Because you wouldn’t be getting any. So don’t have expectations and if you do get an update from Android 5.1 to 6.0 in some bizarre incident treat your friends at the nearest Pizza hut maybe. There is so much to dislike about MIUI for various reasons, as an android lover.

There’s also a good side to the MIUI although, and that is, it’s really hard to tell you’re using android. To a general consumer who is not enthusiastic about what version of Android powers his or her phone, for all intents and purposes, it’s an altogether different OS but theoretically, yes, it is android.

What this means is you don’t need to get excited when Google releases a new version of Android with new features. Either you wouldn’t get that update or if you do, there will hardly be any noticeable difference between your MIUI8 based on Lollipop and your MIUI8 based on Marshmallow. For example, Google Now on tap, an exciting feature introduced in Android 6.0 Marshmallow does not work on MIUI Roms based on Android Marshmallow. The only thing that should matter to you as a Xiaomi user is the MIUI number not the Android number.

With MIUI Xiaomi has tried to create an altogether different niche and it has been quite successful we’d say. Your phone can be running Marshmallow with MIUI7 but you wouldn’t have the features your friend may have running an older phone with Lollipop but with MIUI8 on top. MIUI is all that matters in the Xiaomi world.

Moto G4 play @₹8999


If all our trash talk about MIUI has successfully scared you, take a look at Moto G4 Play which will be launching in India tonight, on Amazon. The Moto G4 play is a brand new entry so lets detail you on some specs for this one.

Motorola’s latest phone shares it design with Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus. But specification-wise it is closer to Moto G3. The Moto G4 Play has a 5-inch HD display and runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor with 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage which is expandable up to 128GB using a microSD card.

The phone was launched as a single SIM phone in the US, but considering Moto’s track in India, it is expected to be a dual-SIM variant here. On the back, the Moto G4 Play has an 8-megapixel camera with LED flash. It also carries a 5-megapixel camera on the front. Hands down Moto G4 Play will be the best camera under 10k unless Lenovo really screws up. The phone is powered by 2800mAh battery and runs on Android Marshmallow operating system.

Specs aside, if Motorola’s previous track record is to be considered, Moto G4 play should easily trump the Redmi 3s Prime even with a slightly weaker CPU because it runs a light stockish android and 2 gigs of RAM is all this phone needs to provide you a better multitasking experience than the Redmi 3s Prime. Motorola also has had a good track record for updating its devices. According to a report, Sony phones crash the least, Motorola Updates fastest, after Nexus of course. But under Lenovo Motorola is quietly losing on the update delivery but we can still expect updates at least. 

Moto G4 Play is severely lacking in battery specs compared to the competition and it also lacks a fingerprint scanner which make it a tough sell. But if you just want a good phone which will last you at least one full year without any hiccups, you should pick the Moto. As a more feature oriented power user, Xiaomi is still your best bet. 
We’ll be updating this post if the G4 Play doesn’t perform to it’s name but it’s unlikely.

So that’s all there is to know about here we think. You now know what you’d be diving into if you do buy a Xiaomi smartphone because MIUI aside, these are the best smartphones under ₹10,000 in India till September 2016. Questions are always welcome.

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