Hey, are your looking for a new phone under Rs. 15000 and are confused with the sheer number of devices out there? Is every manufacturer claiming to give you the best selfie experience, amazing gaming performance, best software and excellent battery life? But you are simply too confused whom to believe and whom not to trust.
Well that's where HomeTop comes in. We wade through the sea of devices picking and shortlisting the best ones. Which we then put through a lot of tests. Tests that are designed to see how each phone performs under the most heavy usage conditions.
Best Smartphone Under Rs.15,000
The A1 is the clear winner with super smooth software, excellent built quality and hardware. The phone offers a seamless gaming experience, and it comes with solid battery life to boot. The Mi A1 is a smartphone that’s perfect for vanilla Android lovers. It’ll be a great fit for people who want a pocketable powerhouse that can handle high-end gaming while being able to capture some great snaps as well. It's also an excellent choice for music lovers, especially if you have high-end headphones.
If we absolutely had to find fault, we have a couple of minor grouses such as the hybrid sim slot and the lack of a fast-charging feature.
Best Smartphone Under Rs.15,000: Best Battery Life
Mi Max 2
This phone had the largest display of the four phones we tested, and an even larger battery to match. It comes packed with features like fast-charging and dual speakers. The large screen is a boon for binge-watching videos on the move, and the dual speakers make the audio experience a treat. The processor’s performance will please most gamers, and above all, the huge battery life will be a lifesaver for business people who need a phone that won’t die on them following a day of heavy use.
However, the Mi Max 2 falls short in the camera department, and the sheer size of the phone can make it seem bulky to some.
Why Trust Us?
To find the best smartphone under Rs.15,000, we spent over seven days testing four of the most popular smartphones in India today.
We put each phone through a series of tests that help see the camera, battery, memory, software and processor performance.
We even brought in a photography professor to experiment with the smartphones and gauge camera performance.
We also used each of the test phones as our daily driver to check for any glitches that may crop up with regular use.
How We Tested?
Given the number of phones in the market, we decided that memory, performance, camera, and battery-life were the most important features that could make or break a smartphone.
We tweaked our memory management tests to reflect a more real world usage.
We ran multiple apps and games and used benchmarking apps to gauge the performance of the CPU, GPU, and memory. This gave us a much better understanding of the phones’ performance compared to raw data from benchmarking software, which can be misleading and easy to fool.
We also partnered with a photography professor to test the cameras in different lighting conditions.
We performanced an improved battery test that now included online video streaming too.
Based on this data, and an analysis of thousands of reviews, we arrived at our two winners.
Best Smartphone Under Rs. 15,000
The Mi A1 leads the pack when it comes to software, audio, performance, camera, and battery life.
Display 5.5 inch, Full HD resolution, 405 ppi, 450 Nits 16:9, 10 finger multi-touch support, 2.5D IPS display (with Gorilla Glass 3)
Hardware Snapdragon 625, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB internal storage
Sensors and Extras Ambient light, proximity, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetic sensor, rear fingerprint sensor, IR Blaster, FM Radio (have to insert code to get it working) , color LED notification light.
Expandability 2x SIM slots (1x nano sim + 1x micro sim) and Hybrid SD card slot, USB-C, OTG support
Software Stock Android 8.0 (Update to Android P is promised), 1st January 2018 security patch
Camera 12 MP + 12MP (2x optical zoom) rear camera with dual LED flash, 5MP front camera, 4K,1080p/720p @ 30fps, 720p @ 120fps
Battery 3000Mah Battery, 10W USB-C charger
Price Around Rs.13999 (Available in Black, Red, Rose Gold & Gold)
A stock Android phone with promised update to Android P
A good dual-camera system with natural colour reproduction and 4K video support
Good quality display with Gorilla Glass 3
Excellent gaming performance
USB Type-C connector and 3.5 mm jack for audio
Doesn’t have the latest 18:9 aspect ratio screen
Hybrid sim slot
Does not have fast-charging
Lacks a flash for selfies
Manual mode shutter time is limited to 1/15 of a second
Design and Build: Looks like an iPhone 7 Plus and built like one!
The Mi A1 is a well-built, metal unibody phone. The design is similar to that of the iPhone 7 Plus, except for the rear fingerprint sensor. The phone feels great in your hand, and the excellent design makes it looks like it’s a lot more expensive than its actual price.
The back panel is a bit slippery, so we recommend that you purchase a good cover or a case for the phone. The rear-mounted fingerprint sensor is not placed near the camera lens, so there’s no fear of smudging. One flaw is that the lens of the dual camera protrudes from the phone body, inviting scratches if you tend to place your phone on its back. The phone has only the IR blaster and a secondary microphone on top, which gives it a streamlined look. But, the same can't be said about the bottom of the phone, which houses the 3.5 mm jack, the primary microphone, USB-C port, and the loudspeaker. The front of the phone accommodates the display, camera, sensors, and the earpiece, along with the capacitive navigation bar.
The phone doesn't feel too heavy but still manages to feel very well-balanced. The buttons are easy to reach, but we felt a slight softness when we pressed them, instead of a hard, clicky feel. The screen is made of Gorilla Glass 3, which makes it far less susceptible to scratches and damage from minor drops.
Display: Excellent, but lacks 18:9 support, and has large bezels
The A1 ships with a 5.5-inch FHD 16:9 display. The size, resolution, and overall quality of the display are top-notch. The panel is bright enough for outdoor use, with the display producing vibrant colours even under direct sunlight. Where it lags behind its competition is in its screen-to-body ratio and aspect ratio. The Mi A1 has a 16:9 display, while most phones in the market have 18:9 displays. The 16:9 aspect ratio translates into chunkier bezels, holding back the visual experience of the phone, compared to its peers.
On the flip side, the screen does come with 2.5D glass and Gorilla Glass 3 for protection.
The A1 does not support double tap to wake, but it comes with Google’s ambient display. Ambient Display lights up the screen every time there is a notification.
Audio and Call Quality: Good speakers, good call quality
The A1 really shines in speaker audio quality. The speaker was much cleared, louder and distortion free than the other phones we tested.. Though, like the others, it lacked a little in bass.
One cool feature of the Mi A1 is that it has an independent audio amplifier. This enables it to support high end headphones (600 Ω) while other smartphones can support headphones upto 32Ω only
We noted excellent call quality on Mi A1, with minimum distortion on either side.
Software & UI: Buttery-smooth stock Android with 2 years of promised updates
The OS is definitely one of Mi A1’s greatest strengths. Being an Android One phone, it’s safe to say that this is the smoothest Xiaomi phone on the market. There is absolutely no bloatware, and the only Xiaomi additions are the camera app, the remote app, and the feedback app. That’s it. Running Android 8.0 following a patch in January 2018, the A1 is absolutely flawless in terms of software.
Being a stock Android phone, MIUI users may be disappointed to find that the phone lacks many popular features of MIUI, like being able to take scrolling screenshots, quick ball, screen record etc. But, that's a small downside to a phone which is basically an economic alternative to Pixel.
Hardware: Great performance with decent multitasking capabilities
Powered by a Snapdragon 625 processor, the A1 managed to run Asphalt 8 at the maximum graphics settings without breaking a sweat. The best part is that the phone doesn’t overheat too much during long hours of gaming. When we ran our benchmark tests, the temperature stayed under 40॰ most of the time.
The Mi A1 could switch between 7 apps without restarting the apps which was decent but not the best. The apps that we tried opening include Chrome (7 tabs), Asphalt 8, Subway Surfer, Facebook, Feedly, Instagram, and Gmail. When we opened Pokemon Go on top of these apps, Asphalt 8 started to restart.
Camera: Good camera with blur effects and great video recording
The Mi A1 is often touted as the poor man's DSLR and rightly so—it is one of the better dual-camera phones. It was the only one in its price range to come with 2x optical zoom. It produces pictures with natural colours, has a decent bokeh effect, and even supports 4K video.
Where the A1’s camera truly shines is in the bright outdoor light. Given good lighting conditions, it is possible to capture photos with blurred backgrounds and to use the 2x optical zoom to maximum effect. In normal lighting, the camera captures more natural colours, compared to the saturated and warm colours of the Honor cameras.
Under low light, the dual-tone flash is a little too aggressive with the warm LED, there is a yellowish tinge to pictures shot with the flash on. Have a look at the scooter picture in our Camera Comparison section which should have been orange, but is rendered yellow by the Mi A1.
While the quality of Bokeh effect is good the effect is not always perfect with some edges of the subject being blurred excessively.
For pro users, there is a manual mode as well, which lets you control the shutter speed. Compared to the features and effects available on the Honor camera app, the Mi A1’s app feels a little too spartan. We hope Mi can work on improving this.
None of the phones in this price band come with optical zoom, except for the A1. The A1 does not merely produce digitally cropped zoom images like the other phones. This creates exceptionally sharp photos when zoomed.
One flaw in optical zoom is that it doesn't have progressive steps, it jumps from no zoom to full zoom. This happens as the lens doesn't move back and forth, instead the camera switches feed from main sensor to zoom sensor. Also, you cannot use the optical zoom in low-light conditions or during video capture. This is because the zoom sensor (f/2.6) is too narrow for low-light conditions, and it lacks optical stabilization.
We loved the video quality produced by the camera as well—it captured smooth and crisp 4K videos. The 720p slow-motion (120fps) video was everything one could hope for.
Battery: Great battery life, lacks fast charging
Under heavy usage, the Mi A1 managed to give 4 hours and 45 mins of battery-life, which is impressive given that it has a 3000mAh battery. It also charges with reasonable speed, at 2 hours (With 4G Hotspot turned on). The PCMark battery test gave it a score of 6 hours, which is very good considering that the phone has the smallest battery in our test.
The Mi A1 is the best example of Xiaomi’s time-tested formula of making phones with the best hardware at affordable prices. What makes it even more appealing is the promise of regular software updates. The phone comes with an excellent dual-camera system compared to other Xiaomi phones and incorporates an excellent audio experience, which will make even audiophiles happy. It does all this at a relatively affordable price while missing out on only one important feature, that is fast charging.
Best Smartphone under Rs.15,000: Best Battery Backup
Display 6.44 inch, Full HD resolution, 342 ppi, 450 Nits, 16:9, 10 finger multi-touch support, 2.5D IPS display (with Gorilla Glass 3)
Hardware Snapdragon 625, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB internal storage
Sensors and Extras Ambient light, proximity, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetic sensor, rear fingerprint sensor, IR Blaster, FM Radio, white LED notification light
Expandability 2x SIM slots (1x nano sim + 1x micro sim) and Hybrid SD card slot, USB-C, OTG support
Software MIUI 9 (Android 7.1.1), 1st November 2017 security patch
Camera 12 MP rear camera with dual LED flash, 5MP front camera, 4K,1080p/720p @ 30fps, 720p @ 120fps
Battery 5300 mAh battery, 18 W QC, 3.0 USB-C charger
Price Around Rs.13999 (4GB/32GB), Rs. 15999 (4GB/64GB)
Amazing battery life
Largest screen in the test
Good dual-speaker audio
Excellent gaming performance
Has support for fast charging
Lacks a modern 18:9 display
Camera lags behind the others in terms of quality
Hybrid sim slot
Lacks front flash for selfies
The size maybe bulky for some people
Design & Build: Return of the Phablet
The Mi Max 2 takes the concept of good things coming in small packages and turns it on its head. There’s nothing small about the Mi Max 2. The screen is large, the battery is large, the sound is large—but what isn’t large is the hole it’ll leave in your pocket.
The large screen means that the Mi Max 2 can feel a little ungainly in your hand if you’re not used to a device this size. That being said, it’s quite well-built, and the metal body feels great in your palm. The Mi Max 2 however fits perfectly in jeans pockets.
The Mi Max 2 comes with a standard rear fingerprint sensor. But the position of the camera sensor is such that you’ll never accidentally touch it instead of the FP sensor.
The phone comes with a single USB-C port located at the bottom, along with one of the speakers. The 3.5 mm audio jack and the IR blaster are located on the top of the phone. A nifty feature is that the phone’s earpiece doubles up as a second loudspeaker. The phone also has backlit capacitive navigation buttons.
Display: Screen made for gamers and movie heads
With a 6.44 inch, FHD, 16:9 inch display, there can be no doubt about what the Mi Max 2 was designed for—a great viewing experience. If you watch a lot of Youtube or Movies online this is the phone for you. The panel produces bright colours even in daylight and low-light conditions. The screen has quite a sharp display despite the relatively low pixel density.
Bright screens can cause issues to your eyes in low light. However the brightness on the Mi Max 2 can go low enough to not cause any irritation.
In fact, the Mi Max 2 actually has thinner bezels than the Mi A1 on the top and bottom, but an 18:9 screen would simply have been the icing on the cake.
As expected, the panel comes with 2.5D glass and Gorilla Glass 3, which is a must for a device of this size. You can also double tap the screen to wake the phone.
Audio and Call Quality: Excellent audio quality and good call quality
The Mi Max 2’s audio playback system is a bit different from other dual-speaker systems as well. We heard a more bassy sound from the bottom speaker, while the top speaker had a higher, sharper sound quality. When you listen to them together, the audio is loud and crystal clear. The speaker complements the screen beautifully, giving you a superior video-watching experience.
We also found that the audio playback through headphones was also very good, and did not pose any issues.
We had absolutely no complaints about the Mi Max 2’s call quality. It was clear and sufficiently loud on both ends.
Software & UI: Clean Design but not stock Android
The Max 2 comes packaged with MIUI 9, which is the latest version of MIUI OS currently available. The OS is based on Android 7.1.1. However, MIUI brings many useful additions to the table that you will appreciate.
Of the many custom UIs that we have seen during our tests, we feel that MIUI is one of the better-designed ones. Though it lacks an app drawer, the overall layout is clean and refreshing design. Even the status bar is well-designed. Also, the phone offers users the option of changing the aesthetics of the UI using the themes app. There are interesting and useful additions like being able to take scrolling screenshots and a screen record option.
Given that MIUI is a customized version of Android, it lags behind stock Android phones in terms of everyday speed. This is not to suggest that the phone has lag issues—it’s actually quite smooth to use. It's just that for day-to-day usage, opening apps is marginally slower than stock Android, splash screens are displayed for longer, and exiting apps is also marginally slower.
One of the biggest problems with custom Android software is that you can never be sure about how many future software updates will support the model. But given Xiaomi’s recent track record, we feel that that’s not something to worry about. The MIUI 9 software was released for 40 Mi devices, some of which are four years old. Even Google Pixel phones don’t get that kind of support. However, it is important to keep in mind that Xiaomi’s updates are not always based on the latest Android release, and are often one release behind stock Android. If you’re an Android purist, we suggest that you take a look at the Mi A1.
Hardware: Tried and tested hardware; decent multitasking
Featuring what is possibly the most popular processor in recent months, the Snapdragon 625, the Mi Max 2 is an excellent multitasking device. It handles everything you throw at it without breaking a sweat. Everyday apps, Google Chrome, and Asphalt 8 ran without any hiccups or lag.
The Mi Max 2 managed to run 6 apps without restarting/refreshing any of them, which is a decent score compared to peers. We tested the phone by opening Chrome (7 tabs), Asphalt 8, Subway Surfer, Facebook, Feedly, and Instagram. Opening Gmail on top of these 7 apps caused Subway Surfer to restart. So, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll run into any multitasking issues with the Mi Max 2.
Camera: Decent camera in good lighting conditions
Camera quality is the only parameter where the Mi Max 2 lags far behind the competition. But there is some saving grace: it captures good video in Full HD and 4K, along with decent 720p slow motion.
The Mi Max 2 has a 12-megapixel single sensor camera that works well (but not great) in well-lit environments, producing sharp and bright images. The Mi A1 captures much better photos with better sharpness in similar lighting conditions.
Unlike the Mi A1 or the other phones the Mi Max 2 has a single camera sensor which it doesn't have any fancy bokeh effects or optical zoom.
The Mi Max 2 really stumbles in low-light conditions. The camera sensors (the rear and front camera) performed poorly in low light conditions. Like the Mi A1, the rear camera flash tends towards a warmer shade of light, but the Mi Max 2 has a lot more noise which ruins the picture further.
The selfie camera captures natural colours, but the 5-megapixel resolution means the level of detail captured in the picture is not the best. A lack of selfie flash means night selfies are a big no on this phone. The Mi Max 2 also lacks any sort of background blur effect on selfie camera toot, which puts it further behind the rest. However, the big screen helps in framing the shot, as you get to see a lot more of the scene on your display.
The panorama feature is good, and the stitching algorithm does its job without any issues.
The camera app includes a manual mode that offers a ton of options, including a shutter speed of up to 32 seconds.
Video capture is decent at 1080p, and the quality only improves with 4K. It also has 720p 120fps slow-motion capture, which is rather good.
The Mi Max 2 is good enough to take photos in well-lit places, but we feel the phone is not really for shutterbugs.
Battery: The best battery in our test, also the fastest charging phone
To explain how good the battery life on the Mi Max 2 is, we have to first explain our procedure for testing phones’ batteries. We have ten tasks, each of varying time-lengths, that we perform on a 100% charged battery. Tasks include playing an hour of a 1080p movie, 20 minutes of Asphalt 8 gaming, running all the benchmarks, and so on. By the time we finished the tenth task of our battery test on the Honor 7x, the battery died. The Mi Max 2, however, had a whopping 52% of its battery life remaining! So we simply had to repeat the tasks on the test. That's how good the battery-life was.
At the end of the test, we had played a 1080p movie for two hours, played Asphalt 8 for an hour, watched Youtube for an hour, listened to music for one hour, completed all our benchmark tests, and browsed the web/social media for another hour and a half. The final duration clocked by the Mi Max 2 for the screen-on time was 6 hours 32 mins! This figure was with dual-sims equipped, and the 4G Hotspot turned on. Impressive!
Given the amazing battery size, you’d assume that it would take a long while to charge, but no. It took just 2 hours and 20 mins to fully charge, all thanks to the impressive Quick Charge 3.0-enabled charger bundled with it.
The Mi Max 2 is one of those rare devices that is almost perfect, but it has one thing where it lacks is the camera. Also while the screen is brilliant and large too not many people will be comfortable with such a phone phone in their pockets. For those who want a more pocketable device equipped with a good camera, The Mi A1 is a better choice.
However, the phone is perfect for those who are constantly on the move. If you need a good device to watch movies in-between flights, play some loud music, and run high-end games while staying connected without worrying about the battery, then the Mi Max 2 is for you.
How we selected?
From the hundreds of smartphones available in the market, we shortlisted phones based on a few set specifications. We also made sure recently launched phones were picked for review.
The few of the specifications were:
32GB internal storage or more
Full HD screen or more
3000mAh battery or more
Performance in Benchmarks
We ran Antutu, PC Mark, and 3DMark benchmarking software. These benchmarks, to a certain extent, can assess CPU, GPU, storage, and battery performance. After running the test, they generate a number which can be used to compare the performances of each device.
- 3D Mark
We see that the Mediatek P25-powered Lenovo K8 Plus tops both the Antutu and 3DMark benchmarks, but the Snapdragon 625 -powered phones are close. The Snapdragon 625-powered devices are in the top three of the PCMark benchmark, which is perhaps a more realistic benchmark as it simulates everyday tasks such as web browsing, copying and pasting text, video playback, and image editing.
However, we have a disclaimer to make: though the Honor phones did not score very highly on these tests, we did not face any lag issues while scrolling or using apps. However, the gaming experience is stilted on both of them, which is accurately reflected by the low scores in the 3DMark test.
Note for camera lovers & phones that were not selected
We particularly enjoyed running the camera tests on these phones, as their image capturing capabilities were just so different! There were three types of cameras:
a single-sensor camera (Mi Max 2)
a high-megapixel sensor plus a low megapixel sensor-based system (Honor 9i & Honor 7x)
a normal focal length sensor plus a longer focal length sensor-based system (Mi A1).
While the Honor phones produced better picture quality, the Mi A1 was better overall with 4K video and higher quality slow motion video.
The Honor phones produced more saturated images and had more prominent blurring effects, while the Mi Max 2’s camera was decent, it lacked the fancy dual-camera systems of the others.
The Honor 9i is the more expensive cousin of the Honor 7x. It is basically a 7x with dual front cameras, front camera flash, and a slightly-tweaked camera design. It sells at Rs.17,999 and comes in just one variant.
The Honor 9i has a better camera than the Honor 7x and Mi A1 with improved selfie performance and a selfie flash. The video quality is similar to the 7x along with the lack of 4K capture.
The Honor 9i offers picture quality that is equivalent to the Honor 7x, with punchy, saturated colours. However, the phone inches ahead in selfie performance because of the secondary camera sensor, which helps improve the bokeh effect of selfies. Further, there is a selfie flash for pictures taken in low light. The 9i’s video capabilities are similar to that of the 7x, with very good 1080p video, but rather poor slow-motion capture. The Honor 9i muffles wind noise quite well, allowing background voices to stand out clearly. The Mi A1 and Mi Max 2 capture better video due to the availability of higher resolution (4K).
Camera aside the Honor 9i has a gorgeous screen like the Honor 7x and boasts of the same metal built quality. The Honor 9i sadly lacks Gorilla Glass protection.
Despite sharing the same Kirin 659 processor as the Honor 7x, the benchmarks scores are lower and it too lags under heavy gaming.
The Honor 9i also lacks a modern USB Type-C port. Given its Rs.17,999 price tag, it should have NFC and Gyroscope.
Despite having the same battery capacity as the 7x, the 9i manages to run for 3 hours 45 mins under heavy usage (Screen on time). But then again, it also takes 45 mins longer than the 7x to fully charge, clocking in at 3 hours 47 mins.
The Honor 9i makes for a perfect selfie and camera device if you are willing to compromise on the gaming performance and a few other niggles.
If you want a more value for money camera phone, thats good at gaming too look at the Mi A1.
The Honor 7x is Honor’s newest addition to the mid-range market, and its price and specs make it a direct competitor to the Mi A1. In fact, we noticed that a lot of buyers were debating on which is the better phone, and which will give them the best features. But allow us to lay all such doubts to rest: the Mi A1 is not just better, but far better.
The Honor 7x has a good camera with a lot of settings that does well in most lighting conditions. The video lacks 4K and 720p slow-motion.
The Honor 7X has a good picture quality with respect to colours, and tones and depth of the picture. In most lighting conditions the picture is well balanced. Some of the images are a little more saturated when it comes to solid colours. The software induced Bokeh works fairly well and gives a smooth blur to the background. The resulting image looks good but peek a little closer and you see the edge detection is wonky in certain areas.
The selfie camera also has software bokeh effects and it’s pretty good. But at times, we found the 7x did not blur the background that well. At night despite lacking a selfie flash the Honor 7x manages a decent photo. It manages this by using a neat little trick of turning the screen into white during image capture, effectively converting the screen into a flashlight of sorts.
The Honor 7x supports digital zoom only unlike the optical zoom on the Mi A1.
The video capabilities of the Honor 7x are similar to the Honor 9i. The Mi A1 and Mi Max 2 phones, however, support 4K video and 720p Slow-motion so please check them out.
The Kirin-powered Honor 7x lags while playing Asphalt 8 at the highest settings. This is shocking, as even the Lenovo K8 Plus, which is priced below Rs.10,000, manages to run Asphalt 8 without any issues. And what's more shocking is how Honor has given the phone one of the best displays in its range (an 18:9 Full HD panel) but has neglected performance.
The honor 7x also had just 32GB of internal storage when all the others had 64GB.
To further add to our concerns, did we tell you that the 7x lacks a gyroscope? Well, it does. So, you can't use Google Cardboard. Also, the Honor 7x still carries a dated micro USB port.
Moving to battery tests, the 7x gets has a screen-on time of just 3 hours, when compared to the A1’s 4 hours 45 mins. The charging time is also slow, at 3 hours and 5 mins.
While the 7x is definitely one of the more stylish phones out there, there are many aspects where it falls short. We hope Honor manages to find a good processor to complement the excellent screen in future models, in which case it would be a truly excellent phone.
We would recommend the Honor 7x just for the camera but we feel it's wiser to pick the Mi A1 in that budget.
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