As we approach the new year, 2022, here’s a quick look back at some of the best budget (under Rs 20,000) phones launched in India in 2021. No points for guessing that the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is our top pick. This phone just came out of nowhere and blew our minds with its terrific value, that remains unbeaten to this day. That’s not to say there wasn’t any good competition.
Also Read | The A-list: Best tech gadgets of 2021
Here are the budget smartphones of 2021 in no particular order.
Redmi Note 10 Pro Max
The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is the best budget smartphone of 2021. This phone’s so good, Xiaomi itself hasn’t been able to replicate its magic despite launching a slew of Redmi Note 10 phones since. It has a premium glass design, 120Hz Super AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection and HDR10 support, Snapdragon 732G processor, versatile and capable cameras, 5,020mAh battery, dual stereo speakers with Hi-Res audio support, IP52 splash resistance, IR blaster, and excellent haptics. To this day, the Note 10 Pro Max remains the best value proposition you can get south of Rs 20,000 setting a new benchmark for value for money, that’s second to none. Be sure to read more about the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max here.
Street price: Rs 19,999 (starting)
Realme Narzo 30 Pro
The Narzo 30 Pro is the most powerful 5G phone under Rs 20,000 in the market, today. This is probably the only budget 5G phone where the “5G tax” is not too high. This makes it a terrific buy for anyone looking for a value proposition that is also 5G-ready for future. Be sure to read more about the Realme Narzo 30 Pro here.
Street price: Rs 16,999 (starting)
Realme 8 Pro
This is the only phone that can match the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max’s value proposition at the time of writing and that is why, it’s a deal you can’t ignore. We do like its predecessor, the Realme 7 Pro better, but the Realme 8 Pro isn’t very far behind. Be sure to read more about the Realme 8 Pro here.
Street price: Rs 17,999 (starting)
Redmi Note 10S
The Redmi Note 10S is the first Xiaomi phone ever (in India) to ship with MIUI 12.5 out-of-the-box. The reason why that’s big is because MIU 12.5 – touted as the cleanest UI possible – supposed to turn your Xiaomi phone – Redmi/Mi/Poco – from a cesspool of bloatware into this magical place where users can control the kind of apps they wish to use. Or dump them as per their liking. It’s all about the freedom and flexibility. For all other intends and purposes, the Redmi Note 10S is a Redmi Note 10 with a different system-on-chip and primary camera. Whether you end up picking this, or the Redmi Note 10, will ultimately depend on your budget. Be sure to read more about the Redmi Note 10s here.
Street price: Rs 14,999 (starting)
Poco X3 Pro
The Poco X3 Pro is the most powerful phone under 20k in the Indian market today. Period. As if it wasn’t already enough, the Poco X3 Pro also comes with UFS 3.1 storage, another first for any phone in this price range. It is the only Poco phone worthy of being called a “spiritual” successor to the Poco F1. That says a lot about it. Be sure to read more about the Poco X3 Pro here.
Street price: Rs 18,999 (starting)
Samsung Galaxy M32
Samsung has tried to juggle many hats with the M32. The focus was clearly on making a jack of all trades, so you can get a taste of everything without going overboard. Overboard with features as well as overboard with expectations. Everything seems well balanced. If there are n number of positives in this phone, there an equal number of ifs and buts too but because the overall package is so solid, it comes out looking good despite its many quirks. This is the best Samsung phone under Rs 20,000 today. Be sure to read more about the Samsung Galaxy M32 here.
Street price: Rs 14,999 (starting)
Redmi 10 Prime
The only reason to not consider the Redmi 10 Prime is probably the Redmi Note 10/Redmi Note 10S that offer more bang for your buck at slightly higher prices. Though, if you’re tight on budget, then the Redmi 10 Prime is what you can call a “safe bet” that does most things well. We feel Xiaomi could have priced it bit lower, but that does not take away from the fact that the Redmi 10 Prime offers good value at its price with a big screen, ample performance, and excellent battery life. Be sure to read more about the Redmi 10 Prime here.
Street price: Rs 12,499 (starting)