Want a smartphone for around Rs 25,000? Try this comprehensive guide! | 91mobiles.com

If you are looking for a new smartphone and have a budget that is in the vicinity of Rs 25,000 (give or take a little this way or that), the chances are that you will end up feeling more than a little overwhelmed. This is because the market is packed with devices in and around that price point, from different brands and their sub-brands, each with its own set of strong points (and weak ones). Picking one out of them can be quite a task. Which is why we have come up with this very simple primer to help you make up your mind.

Requirement: This is the value-for-money zone! What is the most powerful phone I can get for around Rs 25,000?

In terms of hardware, the Rs 25,000 price segment lies just below the budget flagship one, so your powerful processor options will be mainly in the Snapdragon 778 and the MediaTek Dimensity 920 territory. In terms of sheer processor power, the battle here is between three relative veterans – the Samsung Galaxy M52 5G at Rs 21,499, the Xiaomi 11 Lite NE 5G and the Realme GT Master Edition, at Rs 24,999 each. All three of them are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G chip, but are actually very different phones – with the Realme GT Master Edition and Xiaomi 11 Lite NE 5G have a strong element of style about them, while the Galaxy M52 5G is more performance-oriented.

Samsung Galaxy M52 5G

The fact that the Galaxy M52 is the least expensive of the lot also gives it a bit of an edge, with all three devices having broadly similar RAM options (6GB and 8GB). The MediaTek Dimensity 920 runs the Snapdragon 778G close in terms of performance and it is seen on the Xiaomi 11i 5G, which is available at Rs 22,999 and is quite a good proposition for those who do not swear by Qualcomm. Interestingly, the Xiaomi 11i 5G HyperCharge which was launched at Rs 26,999 earlier this year, is now available at some outlets at Rs 24,990, and comes with a smaller battery than the Xiaomi 11i, but with a crazy fast 120W charger. The Dimensity 920 is also present in the Realme 9 Pro Plus 5G, which is again a very competent device, and priced at Rs 24,999.

Get ready to spend a little more and you can get into the Dimensity 1200 and Snapdragon 870 ‘budget flagship’ range (head to the last query to find out more), but if you were to ask us for our pick in processor terms at this price point, it would be the Galaxy M52 5G for the Qualcomm crowd and the Xiaomi 11i HyperCharge for the MediaTek one.

Requirement: Phones around Rs 25,000 are mainly about function, right? Is there any chance I can get a flash-worthy, stylish phone at that price, or is that the preserve of the higher price points?

Getting a flaunt-worthy phone in the vicinity of Rs 25,000 was a rarity in the past, but times have changed and at the time of writing, there are a number of phones that can turn heads in a crowd even while hurting your finances by less than Rs 25,000. Perhaps the most spectacular of these is the OPPO F21 Pro. Priced at Rs 22,990, the F21 Pro’s sunset orange variant is one of the most distinct phones out there, thanks to not just the mango-like shade but also the fiberglass-leather textured back, and 7.5mm thin straight sides. It is not exactly the greatest performer out there (a Snapdragon 680 restricts performance) and it does not support 5G, but in terms of sheer flauntability, this is the phone to get at this price point. Another phone guaranteed to stand out in the crowd is the Voyager Grey variant of the Realme GT Master edition, designed by Naoto Fukusawa. Available for Rs 24,999, it gives off distinct classy luggage-y vibes, and is also a very good performer, thanks to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G chip. If you worship at the altar of the slim and trim, then our vote goes to the Xiaomi 11 Lite NE 5G at Rs 24,999, which is one of the slimmest phones around at a mere 6.9 mm and is super light at 158 grammes.

Redmi Note 11 Pro+ design

Those looking for something that shimmers and shines could also consider checking out the Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus 5G’s Mirage Blue variant which seems to have shimmering waves on its back. There is also the quietly classy Xiaomi 11i with its smooth, subtly shiny back, the glittering green of the Realme 9 Pro Plus 5G, and the startling yellow of the Poco X4 Pro 5G. You get quite a few good-looking phones in the segment now, and many of them look good enough to command a much higher price tag.

Requirement: For around Rs 25,000, what are the chances that I can get a gaming beast?

Well, for well under that amount – in fact for Rs 21,999 – you can get a phone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 chip, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, a full HD+ LCD display with 120Hz refresh rate and stereo speakers. The problem is that the POCO X3 Pro, which many consider to be the spiritual successor of the POCO F1, is often ‘sold out.’ Hardly surprising, given what it offers. Go a bit above that Rs 25,000 mark (to Rs 28,999 to be exact) and you could get another POCO device, and this one dedicated to gaming – the very gamer-friendly POCO F3 GT 5G, which comes with a powerful Dimensity 1200 processor, a full HD+ AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate, stereo speakers, 8GB RAM, air triggers for gaming and an insanely funky gaming design. The challenge once again is to find the device in stock. If you want something that is easier to find and are still willing to cross the Rs 25,000 mark, you can look at the MediaTek Dimensity 1300-driven OnePlus Nord 2T 5G which starts at Rs 28,999 and the Snapdragon 870-powered iQOO Neo 6 5G(Rs 29,999 onwards) and the Poco F4 5G (Rs 27,999 onwards).

You can also get a decent gaming experience on the Realme GT Master Edition 5G, which has a good display and a reasonably powerful (for this price point) Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G processor, although it lacks stereo speakers. The Xiaomi 11i with the MediaTek Dimensity 920 does a very good job with gaming too, and has stereo speakers as well. The Realme 9 Pro Plus 5G too brings a Dimensity 920 processor and stereo speakers to the gaming table but its display’s refresh rate stands at 90 Hz, which while being competent is slightly below the 120 Hz refresh rates being toted by some of the other devices here. It needs to be remembered, though, that none of these can be called a gaming beast by any standards – they are good, solid devices for playing games with settings tweaked a little.

Requirement: I am a binge show watcher and love music. Get me something with a terrific display and sound please.

Well, the phones we have mentioned in the gaming section would do very well for watching videos and for listening to music as well. But if you are not too interested in gaming and just want a great multimedia experience, then you need to stress more on a good quality, large-ish display, stereo speakers and a 3.5 mm audio jack. And here we think you will be very well served by the similarly-specced Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus 5G and the POCO X4 Pro 5G. Both phones boast a 6.67-inch Super AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate, very good stereo speakers, and come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor, which is more than enough for handling hefty multimedia. The Samsung Galaxy M52 comes with a wonderfully bright 6.7-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate, but has a single speaker, which while being loud enough, does take a bit away from the overall multimedia experience.

Requirement: Bring on the snappers and megapixels – what is the best camera setup I can get in a phone for this price?

This is where it gets interesting. For, you get a wide variety of camera arrangements in this price segment. If it is big megapixel numbers that you pursue, then the Xiaomi 11i 5G, the Xiaomi 11i 5G HyperCharge and the Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus 5G all offer you a 108-megapixel main sensor, which is capable of taking great photographs. However, if you are not obsessed with megapixel numbers, then the Realme 9 Pro Plus 5G comes with perhaps the best sensor in the sub-Rs 25,000 category, the 50-megapixel Sony IMX 766, which we have seen on many OnePlus devices and also with optical image stabilisation (OIS), which is very rare in this price segment, and which makes it a good option in low light conditions as well as videos.

A big challenge in this segment is the fact that secondary cameras tend to be a little underpowered, and some cameras even seem unnecessary (those super basic 2-megapixel ones for macro, monochrome and depth). If you are looking for a whole that does well with most of its cameras in this price segment, you could go for the Samsung Galaxy M52 5G, which comes with a 64-megapixel main sensor, a 12-megapixel ultrawide sensor, a 5-megapixel macro sensor, and a 32-megapixel selfie camera in front. On the subject of selfies, if those matter most to you, then the Vivo V23e 5G would be your best option. At Rs 25,999, it is slightly over the Rs 25,000 mark and its MediaTek 810 processor is not the most powerful around, but its 44-megapixel front-facing selfie camera with Eye Autofocus makes it a fantastic device for those who want to shoot themselves, camera-wise!

iQOO Neo 6 camera

Of course, stretch that price point beyond Rs 25,000 and you can get some very good cameras with OIS on the OnePlus Nord 2T 5G, the POCO F4 5G and the iQOO Neo 6. Even the Google Pixel 4a, which has a superb rear camera, can sometimes dip to close to Rs 30,000, and that is a very formidable camera indeed.

Requirement: Has fast charging come to this price segment yet? What is the fastest charging phone I can get?

Actually, you could say that the REALLY fast charging era started from this segment, with Xiaomi unleashing the Xiaomi 11i HyperCharge at Rs 26,999 earlier this year. It came with not only a very elegant design, a powerful MediaTek Dimensity 920 chip, a bright AMOLED display, and a very good 108-megapixel sensor, but with support for 120W charging, and a 120W charger in the box as well. It charged a 4500 mAh battery in under 20 minutes. It’s much THE benchmark when it comes to super-fast charging in this price zone (and it often dips below Rs 25,000 too – it is available at Rs 24,990 at some retailers at the time of writing). There are a number of phones with charging speeds in the 60W – 67W zone, but if it is charging speed you want, it is really a one-horse race. The fact that the Xiaomi 11i HyperCharge is very well specced in other regards too does its cause no harm at all.

Requirement: Fast charging is very nice, but I actually want to be freed from the hassle of charging altogether. Are there some phones out there with big batteries, and I mean, really big batteries?

Phones with batteries of 4,000mAh – 5,000mAh have become relatively commonplace in the Rs 25,000 price segment. And in our experience, most have been able to see off a day and more of normal use. However, if you want a phone with an even larger battery, then you should perhaps consider the Samsung Galaxy F62, which is priced at around Rs 23,900 and packs in a massive 7,000mAh battery. Its other specs are impressive too with 6.7-inch AMOLED display, an Exynos 9825 processor and a very good 64-megapixel main camera. However, the phone does not support 5G and comes with only a 25W charger, so charging that massive battery takes a lot of time. If you want a large battery device with 5G, then the Samsung Galaxy M33 5G at Rs 17,900 is a good option. It comes with a 6,000mAh battery and is powered by an Exynos 1280 processor, has a 6.6-inch full HD+ LCD display and a very good 50-megapixel main camera. However, there is no charger in the box at all, although the phone does support 25W fast charging.

Requirement: Forget all the bells and whistles, get me a simple, uncomplicated phone that is easy to use and just works. I am not a content creator or a crazy gamer, just a normal smartphone user who wants a good phone with enough smarts.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G

For those who are looking for a smartphone that just works without too much jazz, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G at Rs 23,999 is close to perfect. You get a smartly designed phone with a full HD+ AMOLED display, a reasonably good MediaTek Dimensity 900 processor, a decent 64-megapixel main camera, and a large-ish 4500 mAh battery with 65W fast charge. All of this with the still relatively clean OxygenOS from OnePlus that is among the easier interfaces to handle. And if you want to keep things even more basic, well, there is the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G at Rs 19,999 which also cuts a smart enough figure and comes with a full HD+ LCD display but with a very good Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor, a good 64-megapixel main camera, a very large 5,000mAh battery and a reasonably quick (but not super fast) 33W charger. And of course, it too has the easy-to-use and uncluttered OxygenOS. OnePlus got it spot on by calling the range “Core Experience” (CE). It is all about very strong smartphone basics.

Requirement: I just want the best phone I can get, and Rs 25,000 is as far as I can go. If you had one phone to recommend, which one would it be?

If you were to pin us down to one device, we would at the time of writing go for the Xiaomi 11i 5G HyperCharge, which is available at Rs 24,990 from many retailers. You get a very elegant design, a 6.67-inch AMOLED display with 120 Hz refresh rate, good stereo speakers, a very good 108-megapixel main sensor and a 4,500mAh battery with insanely fast 120W charging and a 120W charger in the box as well. Running the show on the device is a MediaTek Dimensity 920 chip, which is among the best you can find in the sub-Rs 25,000 range. You get close to the best of everything in this price segment in one device.

Requirement: I know this says sub-Rs 25,000 but I need to pretty much save as much as I can. What is the absolute lowest price at which I can get a very competitive phone?

The current flagship of the legendary Redmi Note series would be a good option for you. The Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus 5G starts at Rs 20,999 and while its Snapdragon 695 processor is not quite as powerful as the Snapdragon 778 and Dimensity 920 chips found generally at slightly higher prices, it is no pushover and can handle most tasks and games well, with a few tweaks in settings. It comes with a very good 6.67-inch full HD+ AMOLED display with a 120 Hz refresh rate, a very good 108-megapixel main camera, stereo speakers, and a large 5,000mAh battery with a 67W charger in the box as well. You get a good display, a good processor, a good camera and good battery life in a single, well-designed package.

Requirement: Suppose I can perhaps go a little beyond Rs 25,000. What is the best phone I can then get? Would it be significantly better than the options so far?

Stretch your budget beyond Rs 25,000, and you will find devices with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 processor coming into your price range – getting you a bit closer to flagship performance. And yes, you would get significantly better options in terms of overall performance and cameras. The main contenders here would be the very similar iQOO Neo 6 and the POCO F4 5G (we have a comparison up already if you wish to see it). Both phones run on the Qualcomm 870 processor, have 64-megapixel main sensors with OIS, and come with large full HD AMOLED displays. The iQOO Neo 6 has a slight edge in terms of having a bigger battery (4,700mAh as compared to 4,500mAh) and also faster charging (80W as against 67W), although the POCO device scores on a better selfie camera and sound. The real clincher for some, however, could be the fact that the POCO F4 starts at Rs 27,999 for its 6GB / 128GB variant, while the Neo 6 starts at Rs 29,999 for an 8GB / 128GB one.

And of course, if you want to get into the OnePlus zone, then the freshly released and formidable OnePlus Nord 2T 5G swims into contention at Rs 28,999 for the 8GB / 128GB variant. For that you get a Dimensity 1300 chip, which is very close to the Snapdragon 870 in terms of performance, a very good 50-megapixel Sony IMX 766 main sensor with OIS, a 4,500mAh battery with 80W Warp Charge, and of course, OnePlus’ OxygenOS.

Note: The prices mentioned in this guide refer to those available at the time of writing. They might have since changed, depending on the decision of the brand and retailers.

With inputs from Akriti Rana

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