The Rs 20,000-Rs 30,000 segment is easily one of the most sought-after and hotly contested among smartphones, today. With the average selling price going up in the last one year or so, this was expected. Phones under Rs 20,000, even though there are some really good options there, no longer offer the same kind of value they did, once. That momentum has shifted. Needless to say, so has the focus and priorities. The expectations of buyers have changed accordingly as well.
In this edition of FE’s smartphone buyer’s guide, we’ll try and declutter the market, helping you pick the best option or something that would be a good fit for you as per your specific budget. The list includes the relatively entry-level OnePlus Nord CE 2 to the more powerful, more premium iQOO Neo 6. Each of these phones have their own strengths and quirks, but collectively, they offer great value. So without further ado, here are our top picks for the best smartphones under Rs 30,000 in June 2022.
iQOO Neo 6
This is iQOO’s first “Neo” series phone in India. iQOO Neo 6 (review) follows hot on the heels of the excellent iQOO 9 SE and tries to bring high-end gaming to a more accessible price point. iQOO has hit it out of the ballpark on the performance front with this phone. The combination of Qualcomm’s dependable Snapdragon 870 chip and slick software make the Neo 6 fly by virtually anything and everything you throw at it with barely a hiccup. But there’s more to this phone than just speed.
The Neo 6 has an attractive design and even though it’s all-plastic, it is built well. The display is nice and fast— it’s a 6.62-inch 1080p flat E4 AMOLED with 120Hz refresh rate. The stereo speakers sound good, and haptics are nimble. The primary 64MP camera is competitive. Battery life is good, too, even as 80W fast charging tops up the phone from 0-100% in around 39 minutes.
This is an all-rounder phone in every sense of the word and iQOO has priced it well. iQOO Neo 6 price in India starts at Rs 29,999 for a version with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. A version with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage will set you back by Rs 33,999.
Motorola Edge 30
The Moto Edge 30’s claim to fame are its paper-thin dimensions and pure, unadulterated software. When paired with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G Plus chip, you basically end up getting a great value proposition that stands out despite burgeoning competition. This is a very sleek and light phone, made of plastic, but still durable with Motorola also throwing in an official IP52 rating which is always a nice thing to have.
The 6.5-inch 10-bit pOLED display with 144Hz refresh rate is a compelling package for content consumption. This is also one of few recent Motorola phones to come with an in-display fingerprint reader which is fast and reliable. The 4,020mAh battery is dependable and 33W fast charging, while it may appear slow next to competition, is still fast enough for most people. Rounding off the package are dual stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos, support for thirteen 5G bands, NFC, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2.
There’s a decent 50MP OIS main camera in this phone joined by another 50MP ultrawide, and 2MP depth cameras.
The Moto Edge 30 starts at Rs 27,999 for a version with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. You can also get it with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage for Rs 29,999.
Realme 9 Pro Plus
The Realme 9 Pro Plus’s key USP is its 50MP optically stabilised Sony IMX766 sensor. The “real” kicker is that Realme is selling it at under Rs 25,000 making it the cheapest phone to have such a setup at the time of writing. We have absolutely no doubts in saying the Realme 9 Pro Plus is a low-light camera champion. That it costs so low is an icing on the cake. That is not to say it’s a one-trick pony.
It looks sharp. It has a nice 90Hz AMOLED screen, though there is no HDR support. It’s got plenty of power under its sleek and light chassis courtesy MediaTek’s nimble Dimensity 920 chip. The software is well optimised, too. Plus, you get stereo speakers, headphone jack, a good haptic motor, heart rate sensor, Wi-Fi 6, and 5G. Battery life is adequate even as 60W fast charging support can top up the phone from 0-100% in around 50-55 minutes.
The Realme 9 Pro Plus (review) price in India starts at Rs 24,999 for a version with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. The phone also comes with 8GB/128GB for Rs 26,999, and 8GB/256GB for Rs 28,999, respectively.
Samsung Galaxy M53
The Galaxy M53 follows in the footsteps of the M52 and M51, two phones that have received a lot of critical acclaim for their stupendous battery life and reliable performance. Long-lasting battery life is, again, a big focus with the M53 but Samsung has worked on making it desirable on other fronts, too.
The design is well thought out. It is made of plastic, but Samsung does plastic well, as we’ve seen in multiple phones already. So, no major complaints there either. The screen naturally is typical Samsung, which is to say, it’s very good— it’s a 6.7-inch 1080p Super AMOLED with a 120Hz refresh rate.
MediaTek’s Dimensity 900 chip ensures performance is nice and smooth for the most part while the 108MP quad rear camera setup packs a lot of potential. The software support from Samsung is immaculate, with its phones getting updates far more frequently than ever. Extended support, too, is a big USP. Perhaps the only area where it falls back is in charging speeds and the fact that you don’t get any charging brick in the box.
The base variant of the M53 with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage is priced at Rs 26,499. The top-end M53 model with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage will set you back by Rs 28,499.
Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge
The 11i Hypercharge with 120W fast charging support may not be perfect but it’s the best affordable mid-range phone that Xiaomi has launched in a while. The phone can charge really fast. We are talking speeds that would put Apple and Samsung to shame and make every other fast charging tech –at its price point— seem redundant.
Xiaomi claims you’ll be able to charge this phone from 0-100% in flat fifteen minutes. A compliant charger is, also, shipped in the box at no extra cost. You can use it to charge other devices like laptops, too. You might not be able to always achieve this golden figure, but seeing your phone charge in under 30 minutes, today, is like peeking into the future.
There is more to this phone that just fast charging though. The design is nice and premium with a glass back and IP53 rating. The screen, which is a 6.67-inch 1080p AMOLED with 120Hz refresh rate, offers good contrast and viewing angles. The Dimensity 920 inside this phone metes out ample performance while the 108MP triple rear camera setup takes sharp photos in good light.
You also get dual speakers that get nice and loud, 3.5mm audio jack, IR blaster, and X-axis linear motor for nice and tight haptics.
Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge (review) starts at Rs 26,999 for 6GB/128GB. The 8GB/128GB version will set you back by Rs 28,999.
OnePlus Nord CE 2
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 (review) is a lite version of the Nord 2. It’s a jack of all trades phone with an attractive design, a good 6.43-inch 1080p AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate, ample performance with Dimensity 900 under the hood and relatively clean, unadulterated software, competitive cameras, and good battery life with quick charging (65W).
The Nord CE 2 is seemingly better equipped for the future as well with support for eight 5G bands while at the same time, it retains the headphone jack and storage expansion, features that are on-route to become relics of the past.
Pricing is key. The phone starts at Rs 23,999 for a version with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. A version with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage will set you back by Rs 24,999. OnePlus has hit gold with the “Nord” and a phone like the Nord CE 2 ensures it can tap into India’s masses, making its phones accessible to a wider audience. For buyers, this means, it’s now possible to get a decent OnePlus phone at more affordable prices.
Oppo F21 Pro
The F21 Pro’s main appeal lies in its look and feel. The phone’s sunset orange variant uses a “fibreglass-leather” backplate that is said to be both waterproof and “heavily wear-resistant.” There is no official IP rating, though. The material has a plush feel while at the same time it ensures the phone is thin, light, and durable. The cosmic black variant of the phone, which is relatively more restrained, is glossy but at the same time, has a matte finish that’s said to be “fingerprint- and stain-resistant.” The F21 Pro is refreshingly beautiful to look at and feels polished in the hands regardless of the colour. This phone also has a neat little party trick called the orbit ring around one of its camera lenses on the back. The spec-sheet is decent for the price.
It has a nice 6.4-inch 1080p AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and hole punch cut-out housing a 32MP selfie camera. Oppo is using the same Sony IMX709 sensor here as the more premium Reno 7 Pro. On the back, you get a triple camera setup with a 64MP main, 2MP portrait, and a cool and fun to play around with 2MP micro-lens camera. Powering the package is a reliable Qualcomm Snapdragon 680. Those looking for a high-performance device should look elsewhere but for those looking for style and some substance, at a bargain price, the F21 Pro is well worth a consideration.
Oppo F21 Pro price in India is set at Rs 22,999 for a version with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage.