The last couple of months have seen a proliferation of smartphones in the sub-10,000 price range. Earlier this range was dominated by cheaper Chinese phones marketed by Indian brands such as Lava, Micromax, Karbonn and others, but with the commoditisation of hardware and more importantly the appeal of a burgeoning Indian market many international brands have launched products to compete in this budget.
We take a pick of the Top 5 in the sub-Rs 10,000 range. As expected all of them cost above Rs 8,000 as we found that dropping below this meant making huge compromises in terms of quality and experience. Like every countdown let us begin with the last on the list
Number 5 – Sony Xperia E Dual
Price – Rs 9,799
Dual-SIM smartphone with good built quality
This dual-SIM phone by the Japanese phone maker was launched at Rs 11,490 but has seen a price drop and is now available for Rs 9,799. The good build-quality, compact design and dual-SIM support make this phone a worthy candidate. However, the single-core processor means you can do only so much. Add to that a small 3.5-inch display at a beggarly resolution of 320 x 480 and you realise how Sony managed to keep the cost so low. It is also the reason why the phone just about scrapes into the list. Here's a look at the Xperia E Dual's complete specifications.
Verdict – Go for this phone only if you can't be seen without a recognisable brand.
Number 4 – Karbonn Titanium S1
Price – Rs 9,990
Jelly Bean powered Titanium S1
One of the three phones from our list to sport a 4.5-inch display, the Karbonn Titanium S1 promises much with its quad-core processor, but fails to deliver. Currently avaiable for a tenner short of Rs 10,000 the Titanium S1 is decidedly an ugly phone. The highly reflective back panel is also a pain to maintain. What works in favour of the phone is the hardware. The 1.2GHz quad-core processor and 1GB RAM makes sure that the Jelly Bean powered Titanium S1 chugs along fine.
Here are the complete specifications of the Karbonn Titanium S1.
Verdict – The S1 packs a fairly decent feature set but the poor battery-life and glossy body may make you want to move to our number 3.
Number 3 – Micromax Canvas Music A88
Price – Rs 8,499
Micromax Canvas Music comes with a free JBL headset
Micromax is nothing if not prolific. Their Canvas range of smartphones have become as commonplace, at least in public memory and recall, as any other top-tier range like the Xperia or Galaxy. This is the only phone in our list that costs less than Rs 9,000 and that is some achievement. Or is it? If there is a phrase that best describes this phone it is 'run of the mill'. The Canvas Music A88 has nothing spectacular to offer except maybe the free JBL headset that it comes bundled with. At 1GHz running on a dual-core, the processor is pretty ho-hum and the display panel too is strictly ok. Read all the specifications of the Micromax Canvas Music A88 here.
Verdict – Apart from the bundled JBL headset the single biggest thing in favour of the Canvas Music A88 is its price. Rs 8,499 is undoubtedly an extremely aggressive price.
Number 2 – Nokia Lumia 520
Price – Rs 9,899
Nokia's Windows smartphone under Rs 10,000
Nokia is finally figuring at a familar place in lists, i.e. at the top. The only Windows phone in an otherwise exclusively Android list, the Lumia 520 is turning out to be a winner. Honestly, We think the '5 tasks in two and a half minutes ad' does disservice to the phone. The Windows phone OS ensures that inspite of the rather modest hardware the phone experiences no noticeable performance lag. The phone also has the best camera among all the phones in this list, but then you'd expect Nokia to deliver on that count. There's a lot to like about this phone, one wishes the Windows Phone 8 improves significantly to do justice to phones like the Lumia 520. For a list of the full specifications of the entry-level Lumia click here.
Verdict – The drop in price from Rs 10,500 to Rs 9,899 has made this phone an incredibly attractive buy. Just that we still don't have enough confidence in the Windows Phone platform
Number 1 – Xolo Q700
Price – Rs 9,999
4.5-inch qHD IPS display with a resolution of 540 x 960 pixels
If someone were to give you a 1.2GHz quad-core phone with 1GB RAM and a 4.5-inch IPS display at 540 x 960 running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and powered by a 2400 mAh battery for less than Rs 10,000, and ask you to place it on a list of budget smartphones, where would you put it? We did what most would do. The Xolo Q700 is the best sub-Rs 10,000 smartphone around. The specs on this phone would make many other smartphones flinch and the Rs 9,999 price tag is a clincher. If there is something to hate, it is the weight. But then, the super-sized battery does come at a price.
View the complete specs of the Xolo Q700 here.
Verdict – If you are a specifications freak, trust only Android, but have only Rs 10,000 to spend then this is the phone you must spend your money on. For everbody else there is the Lumia 520.