Like mid-range smartphones, budget smartphones too bore the brunt of the pandemic and other adverse market conditions this year, resulting in increased prices for hardware that used to be the norm for the under-10k segment. As a result, we stretched our price limit for budget smartphones to `15,000 with nominees like the Micromax In Note 1, POCO M2 Pro and more. This is also a segment that is presently dominated by MediaTek processors. The Taiwanese chip designer was able to beat Qualcomm both in terms of performance and value for money, ensuring good gaming performance even in entry-level smartphones.
Winner: Narzo20 Pro
The Narzo20 Pro belongs to the new performance-hungry sub-brand from Realme, and thanks to a few things like 65W fast charging, a reliable quad-camera, and an edge-to-edge display, this hardly feels like a budget smart- phone at all. The Narzo 20 Pro, thanks to the MediaTek Helio G95, topped our budget smartphone test sheet in CPU, GPU and battery scores. While it lacks the high refresh rate dis-play and an ISP capable of processing input from a large 64MP camera, the Narzo 20 Pro makes up for it by covering the basics really well. It’s good enough for watching movies, browsing social media, and typing out long emails. Even games like CoD: Mobile run without noticeable frame drops. And amidst smartphones that sport large batteries with slow chargers, the Narzo20 Pro changes the game by charging the 4,500mAh battery to full capacity in just 30 minutes using the charger included in the box. For a phone priced under `15,000, the Narzo20 Pro is unbeatable this year.
Runner Up: Redmi 9 Prime
The Redmi 9 Prime came a close second, and it’s the most balanced all-rounder you can buy under `15,000 this year. It doesn’t have the most powerful spec sheet, but is a prime example of doing more with less. The Redmi 9 Prime features a typical 6.5-inch LCD display that’s bright enough for enjoying an episode or two on the go. The 12MP quad-camera stack is also not that great on paper, but the results are comparable with smartphones that are a lot more expensive. It produces sharp details, and the colours come out rich and vibrant in the day. The Redmi 9 Prime also performs reliably well in daily tasks like browsing social media or watching a movie. Games like CoD: Mobile can’t run at the highest graphics of course, but you won’t face any lag whatsoever at medium graphics. The 5,000mAh battery inside keeps the phone running for well over a day, and it takes around 2 hours to fully top up.
Best Buy: Redmi note 9
The Redmi Note 9 belongs to the prestigious Note lineup of devices from Xiaomi, but with the family branching out into three offerings this year, the regular Note 9 is a far cry from its Pro and the Pro Max siblings. Still, with the costs of manufacturing a smartphone increasing this year, the Redmi Note 9 seems to offer a lot, for just a small increase in the price. The MediaTek Helio G85 is capable of dishing out stable frame rates in games like CoD: mobile, but taxing this smartphone with multiple Chrome tabs, and a bunch of apps will slow it down. The 5,000mAh battery, ensures more than a day of continuous usage, and the camera is decent enough for the price. For its reliable daily usage and long battery life we give the Redmi Note 9 the Best Buy award.
About Digit Zero 1 Awards:
With a legacy of 20 years, the Digit Zero 1 Awards is recognized as the Industry’s only performance-based awards. Digit rewards brands for putting in years of research in developing and introducing performance-driven products for their audience. All products are made to pass through a rigorous and scientific test process and compete with competitor brands in the same category. The Winner in each category is announced on the basis of their total score post complete performance analysis done across an average of 56 tests conducted for every category, across key performance parameters. The test process for the Zero1 Awards does not consider scores for features, price or design. The aim is to identify the very best products that money can buy, celebrate the innovations that push the industry forward, and reward the products that dare to disrupt the market.