In the world of smartphones, the 35000 segment is where all the true flagship killer smartphones are found. Once dominated by OnePlus it is now filled with competitors from Asus, Honor, Motorola, Samsung and Xiaomi.

To find the very best of the flagship killer we looked for suggestions from reputed websites from around the world. Finally analyzing the picks from Amazon and Flipkart as well.
 

Best phone under 35000

OnePlus 6T

OnePlus' another powerhouse: 6T

The OnePlus 6 was no doubt, one of the best smartphones to come out of OnePlus' stable. It brought forth the best hardware in the market which included the Snapdragon 845 processor, ample RAM, a ton of storage and one of the best software experiences.

But now OnePlus is back again with an upgraded version of the 6, the 6T. While not a major upgrade it does bring along some useful improvements like a larger 3700mAh battery, a small waterdrop notch, a larger display with a smaller chin and a new under display fingerprint sensor.

The prices have gone up a bit, but OnePlus has skipped the 64GB variant and has made the 6GB/128GB variant it's entry-level offering. While the lack of a headphone jack does hurt audiophiles, you do get a dongle in the box. Overall for its price the OnePlus 6T is still the best flagship-killer out there and one of the best smartphone under 35000.

Pros

  • Amazing Optic AMOLED display

  • The notch is no longer an irritation

  • Top of the line performance

  • One of the smoothest software experiences

  • Excellent under display fingerprint sensor

  • Dash charging is pretty snappy

  • Good battery life

  • Glass back design

  • Superb cameras

  • Good software support

  • Fast Charger, Dongle and Cover provided inbox

  • Useful alert slider switch

Cons

  • Speaker audio quality could have been better

  • Proprietary charging solution

  • The display is dimmer than its LCD competitors

  • Price is increasing with every version

  • Glass makes it slippery in the hand

  • Gesture control needs some work

  • Lacks the 50W SuperVOOC fast charging standard

What's it missing?

  • True waterproofing (No IP rating)

  • Useful Secondary camera (No optical zoom, wide angle)

  • Super slow motion video (Limited to 720p @ 480fps)

  • MicroSD card slot

  • Headphone Jack

  • Stereo speakers

  • Dedicated DAC

  • FM Radio

  • Wireless charging

  • 2K resolution display

  • IR Blaster

Where to buy it?

If you want (6GB ram/128GB internal storage) purchase it on Amazon
If you want (8GB ram/128GB internal storage) purchase it on Amazon
If you want (8GB ram/256GB internal storage) purchase it on Amazon
If you want (10GB/256GB-McLaren Edition ) purchase it on Amazon

Best phone under 35000 (Budget)

Asus Zenfone 5z

Asus' Zenfone 5z: Power made easy

The Zenfone 5z undercuts the OnePlus 6 by a big Rs.5000 margin but it's not immediately obvious as it has the same processor, a similar amount of RAM, storage and a similar glass back and notch design.

To add to that Asus offers stereo speakers and a dedicated microSD card storage on it. But where it lags behind the OnePlus 6 is the software and camera department, two factors that are very important today to most users. Read more about how the Asus Zenfone 5z performs in our Best smartphone under 30000 article.

Pros

  • Superb pricing

  • Snapdragon 845 processor

  • Gorgeous design and build

  • Superb 6.2-inch display

  • Gorilla Glass 3 protection for the display

  • 64GB storage with microSD support

  • Optically stabilized camera with wide angle option

  • 4K 60fps option

  • Quick Charge 3.0 support

  • Fast Charger, Cover, and earphones provided inbox

  • Great stereo speakers

Cons

  • Has the love it-hate it notch

  • Notch hide option looks like an afterthought

  • Uses the older Quick Charge 3.0 standard

  • Stock Android would have been better

  • No details of software support after Android P

  • Camera lags behind the OnePlus 6

  • Wide angle camera produce low-resolution photos

What’s missing?

  • AMOLED display

  • Water resistance (No IP certification)

  • Dedicated microSD card slot

  • Quick Charge 4.0 (has only QC 3.0)

  • Selfie flash

  • IR Blaster

  • Dedicated DAC

  • Wireless charging

  • Super slow motion video

Where to buy it?

If you want (6GB ram/64GB internal storage) purchase it on ​Flipkart
If you want (6GB ram/128GB internal storage) purchase it on Flipkart
If you want (8GB ram/256GB internal storage) purchase it on Flipkart


This is a really long post! Use these links to jump around.


How we selected?

We started by looking at suggestions from reputed technology websites to see what they had suggested. We then listed all the best phones under 35000 from Amazon and Flipkart and then went through their specifications and features while analyzing the reviews from verified customers.

Finally, we read through reviews from various review websites like Notebookcheck, DxOMark, Fonearena, Xda-developers etc. to look at the merits and downfalls the winners.
 

Best smartphone under 35000 in detail

OnePlus 6T: A closer look

Specifications

Design & Build: Glass, Metal, and many colours

OnePlus as a manufacturer has always taken an evolutionary approach to their smartphones design. The OnePlus 5T was updated to the more modern 18:9 display over the OnePlus 5 and similarly the OnePlus 6 got a 19:9 notched display and glass back to the mix. The OnePlus 6T does just that, by including a more modern waterdrop notch, a smaller chin and a fingerprint sensor within the display.

This blend of glass on both the sides of the frame and the really cool colour schemes does help the OnePlus 6 to exude a premium feel. The colours for the OnePlus 6 are Mirror black (gloss back), Midnight black (matte black) and Thunder purple (gradient purple).

There is also a special Mclaren edition of the OnePlus 6T that comes with special orange accents as a nod to the famed British Sportscar manufacturer.

A closer Look: Waterdrop Notch

The minuscule waterdrop notch of the Oneplus 6T

The obvious change over the OnePlus 6 is when you pick up the phone. The ugly notch of the OnePlus 6 has now morphed into a subtle waterdrop notch. This not just gives you more space around the top of the screen but also has made way for a larger display due to a much smaller chin.

Comparision of OnePlus 6 and 6T
Comparision of OnePlus 6 and 6T


OnePlus 6 vs OnePlus 6T front fascia

Moving to the back while we see the same dual-camera sensors vertically oriented as the OnePlus 6 there is the obvious lack of the pill-shaped fingerprint sensor. That is because the sensor has now moved to the front and lives under the display. Placing your finger over it makes it glow green with a cool animation before unlocking.

fingerprint display technology: OnePlus 6T

The fingerprint display technology being a new one isn’t as fast off the bat when compared to the previous physical fingerprint sensors as Android Police reported. However, the OnePlus 6T fingerprint sensor actually gets faster over time with use due to the sensor mapping new areas of your finger and storing them for use.

On the right of the phone is the power button and the super useful alert slider switch, the left houses the volume control. The top has only the secondary microphone with the bottom of the phone being cramped with the primary microphone, single speaker and USB-C port. The OnePlus does support Dual-Sim 4G but no micro SD card support.

Brilliant and Dazzling: OnePlus 6T in Thunder Purple

OnePlus 6T’s Thunder Purple colour variant

One little niggle is that headphone jack is no longer present on the phone, OnePlus cites lack of space as the reason especially given the large battery this time around. They even bundle a USB-C to a Headphone jack adapter and have even released the new OnePlus Type-C Bullets earphones to go with the phone (not included in the box).

While we understand the justification given to remove the headphone jack, OnePlus should have taken the opportunity to actually give the 6T full water-resistance (IP68) and even wireless charging due to the glass back.

That being said there is mild water resistance, which means you can use the phone in light rains or spill water over the phone by mistake, but it won't be able to survive in heavy rains or a drop in a large container of water.

Given that glass back phones have a tendency to be slippery, OnePlus has very thoughtfully provided a high-quality case in the box that helps prevent the phone from slipping.

OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition design

Recently OnePlus launched the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition which brings a subtle change to the design in the form of a Papaya Orange accent line, called the speed trail and the McLaren logo on the carbon fibre textured rear.

The Mclaren edition also brings about a fresh lick of paint for the accessories that the OnePlus 6T packs. These too have been given the Papaya Orange treatment and frankly, they do add to the design and premium feel of the phone.

OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition box items

One little detail we always used to find odd with the regular OnePlus has been fixed this time around. The detail we talk about is the colour of the charger which used to be white on the older phones despite the phone being black in colour. Order has been restored this time with a black charging adapter that comes with colour coordinated orange cables.

Software: One of the best custom Android experience

The OnePlus 6 ships with a custom Android experience called as Oxygen OS. Oxygen OS for long has earned a reputation for giving you a stock Android like experience with all the features for a custom skin.

The OnePlus 6T runs the Oxygen OS 5.1 which is one of their best versions yet. Also, this time around it is based on the newer Android Pie 9.0 release. Everything from the icon design to menu layout is near perfect, it looks pleasing and is very easy to use.

Given that this is a 2018 smartphone, you do get a notch but a more modern version of it which takes up very little space unlike the ugly monstrosity of the Pixel 3 XL. You can still hide the notch But it's different here, the AMOLED screen combined with the rounded corners make the hidden notch effect more convincing.

Theme made for Fans: OnePlus 6T's Dark Theme

One highly requested feature for Android by its fans has always been a system-wide dark theme mode, and while Google has added in this feature in beta versions of the operating systems it has always been removed in the final version. But OnePlus does offer a really cool dark mode on their phone which even skins their apps to a dark shade.

A rather useful feature OnePlus has borrowed from Samsung and Motorola is the ambient display. This again feels logical given that the feature needs an AMOLED display to work perfectly. It enables your screen to light up the moment the phone is lifted. This allows you to glance through your notifications with just a tap of the screen or lift of the phone.

Another new addition is the gesture navigation control which takes away the navigation bar to make way for gestures to control the home, back, and multitasking options. The reason this exists is it helps you use more space from your screen which is otherwise used up by the navigation bar. The gestures are as follows:

  • Home: Swipe up from the bottom of the phone

  • Back: Swipe up on the bottom left or bottom right

  • Multitasking: Swipe up and hold for a second

Many reviewers from Anandtech to Droid-life who used it complained about the hold time needed to open the multitasking menu and simply the intuitiveness of the gesture control. Most of them found the much easy to use and simpler pill based gesture controls of the Moto phones.

Gestures remain one of the only slight niggles with the software and something that OnePlus can easily fix with an update.

Added Elements: New Navigation

The newly launched McLaren edition too uses the same Oxygen OS experience but adds a few neat touches like the McLaren branded boot screen, a new screen unlock animation and some speed trails like wallpapers.

Because it is based on Android Pie you also get the brand new gesture navigation bar that's baked into Pie as an option to the existing OnePlus gestures.

But where OnePlus really takes the cake now is updates. OnePlus has promised to provide regular updates to the OnePlus 6T for 2 years and also security update support for up to 3 years (pushed once every two months).

Hardware: The original flagship killer...it still is

When you talk about any OnePlus phone, the biggest draw towards it is the display. OnePlus has earned a reputation of using a high-quality display that has managed to be the best of the lot falling short only when compared to smartphones twice or thrice its price.

But a weird quirk with the OnePlus display is that the original OnePlus One came with a Full HD display and in nearly 5 years till the OnePlus 6 they are still using a Full HD (FHD+) display.

That goes to show that even though cameras and processors have taken bigger jumps in specifications, the display does not have to be updated at the same pace and can hold their own with the passage of time. Also while there are smartphones with 4K resolutions, you don't need anything more than 1080p or 2K.

Being an AMOLED display you get vivid colours and inky blacks. While the display is similar to the OnePlus 6, it has become a little bigger on the 6T.  NotebookCheck found the display to max out at 442nits which is close to its predecessor but more evenly lit.

There are other improvements as well including lower Delta e values for more colour accuracy, a more accurate colour temperature. They also loved the colour accuracy of the display as it could touch 100% of the sRBG space and 95% of the DCI-P3 wide colour gamut. Viewing angles is also something they said was great with no brightness/ colour shift even at acute angles.

The only issue they found was that the maximum brightness peaked at 420 nits only, which is in the ballpark of most AMOLED displays but the competition now reaches 700+ nits. But for the price, we can understand.

Also, this time around the display is covered with Gorilla Glass 6 which is the stronger variant of Gorilla Glass and can withstand up to 15 drops.

Why is OnePlus 6T the best in our opinion: A chart

Powering the phone is the top of the line Snapdragon 845 processor with 6GB or 8GB RAM, you also have 128GB and 256GB of storage. Given the specifications, there is no doubt that the OnePlus 6T is one of the smoothest phones around giving you silky smooth app animation and lag-free gaming experience.

The 10GB RAM on the McLaren Edition doesn’t really bring about a performance boost according to Gsmarena which means it borders more into bagging rights than any actual usability benefit.

Anandtech too attributed the smoothness to proper optimization on OnePlus' part. In terms of UI Fluidity, Anandtech found the OnePlus 6 to be the very best in terms of smoothness, which they say surpasses the Samsung Galaxy S9 and matches the Pixel 2.

OnePlus 6T and Gaming

Unlike the Asus Zenfone 5z which we praised for its stereo speakers, audio effects and bundled earphones, audio on the OnePlus 6T isn't its strongest suit. Yes, it is decently loud as Gsmarena found and falls in their "Very Good" category which is an improvement over the OnePlus 6.

The speaker downward firing position makes it easy to muffle sound if held in a particular way. They also found the speaker to lack in depth and quality calling it average when compared to the flagships.

There's also a Face Unlock feature now, as it the trend nowadays. The Face Unlock feature takes around 0.4 seconds to unlock your phone and uses assistive lighting by turning on your display to work in dark conditions.

In terms of connectivity, there is a lot of kit on the OnePlus., you have Dual 4G VoLTE, WiFi 802.11ac dual-band (2×2 MU-MIMO ), Bluetooth 5.0 aptX HD, GPS/ GLONASS/ Beidou, USB 2.0 Type-C with support for USB OTG, USB Type-C audio, and NFC. The only missing thing is an IR Blaster and a headphone jack.  

Camera: Best in class cameras

OnePlus 6T's amazing dual cameras

The camera hardware on the OnePlus 6T consists of a 16-megapixel f/1.7 sensor as the main sensor. It also supports OIS and EIS on this sensor. But the secondary sensor is a little weird as it is a similar 20-megapixel f/1.7 sensor with no stabilization.

We say weird because OnePlus uses it for just depth sensing which is something that can be done with software as the Pixel 2 does so well. A secondary zoom sensor or a wide angle shooter would have spiced things up nicely.

Gsmarena found the OnePlus camera to have good details and right colours just like the OnePlus 6. They found the images to be great in low light as well with good saturation, detail and noise reduction.

The new night mode, however, doesn't work as well as on the Huawei P20. Although you get even better phones when you pair the night mode with a tripod.

Coming to portrait shots, the secondary sensor actually helps capture great portraits with excellent subject separation and good edge detection.

Gsmarena found the front 16-megapixel camera to capture some excellent selfies in good lighting. Portrait mode too works well even with the lack of a secondary camera.

Coming to video, it's said to be not as good as OnePlus' photo capturing ability but is still close to the iPhone X. The videos captured on the OnePlus 6T have good dynamic range, capture great details, focus on the subjects efficiently and are very well stabilized. Video recording maxes out at 4K 60fps. There is slow motion video recording at 480 fps at 720p resolution, this is less than the 960fps recording in some flagships.

Battery & Charging: Improved battery life with really fast charging

The OnePlus 6T is armed with a larger 3700mAh battery which brings it closer to the nearly 4000mAh batteries of its competitors. The efficient processor and display help you churn out good battery life from it. Phonearena quoted a screen on time of 9 hours 52 minutes that beats even the Apple iPhone XS Max. You can easily cross a days use on a single charge of the OnePlus 6T.

Dash Charging and OnePlus 6T

For charging you have OnePlus' Dash Charger which uses a 20W charger and can juice up the phone to 55% from nought in under 30 minutes. Full charging takes around 85 minutes which is only a little slower than the OnePlus 6.

While the charging time seems great, OnePlus no longer holds the crown for the fastest charging phone with Oppo and Huawei taking that spot now with their 50W and 40W chargers.

Even the newly launched OnePlus 6T McLaren edition with its 30W Warp Charger doesn’t come close to the 40/50W chargers of the competition. Using higher ampere due to the 5V/6A arrangement the Mclaren edition chargers to 50% in 20 minutes and takes roughly 63 minutes to fully charge.

While the phone has a glass back, it doesn't support wireless charging. Also, note that the phone cannot fast charge with Quick Charge or other fast chargers as it uses a proprietary charging mechanism.

After sales service

OnePlus offers a 1-year warranty on the phones and the inbox accessories. For any issues, you can take the product to a service centre or ask them to pick up your device from your home. OnePlus has around 40 service centres across India. Here are some of the prices for important components (prices after warranty):

  • Screen: ₹7,880

  • Mainboard: 128G ₹19,900

  • Mainboard: 256G ₹24,000

  • Front Camera: ₹1,200

  • Rear Camera: ₹3,700

  • Battery: ₹1,300

  • Battery Cover: ₹1,650

  • Speaker: ₹392

  • Receiver: ₹72

  • Service charges are from Rs. 250-472

Who are our best picks for?

The OnePlus 6T emerges on top as the final device is more than the sum of its parts. It's not just about giving good specifications and good camera hardware et al.  The OnePlus 6T truly gives you a great experience be it the highly customizable software experience or the gorgeous design on the phone or the quick software updates. The company is now even more focused on the Indian markets conducting forums for fans to voice their opinions and ideas to help improve the software and devices.

The Asus Zenfone 5z is not much different than its competitors but it takes a slightly different approach from the OnePlus 6T. It's all about the specifications here and Asus doesn't skimp on any, giving you basically more value for money than the OnePlus 6T. Given the power you can do just about everything from gaming to photography, work to watching movies, the Zenfone 5z can do anything you throw at it.
 

The ones that didn't make it

Oppo R17

Priced jsut a little short of the OnePlus 6T, the Oppo R17 finds itself in a difficult situation, It's not the most powerful in its class, nor does it have the largest battery no the excellent software of the OnePlus. There are a few positives like the variable aperture camera, OLED display, Under display fingerprint sensor, water drop notch and 8GB of RAM. What lets it down is the price, performance and the software present on the phone.

Huawei Nova 3

The Nova 3 with its Kirin 970 would have made a great alternative to the OnePlus a few months back. But with the market now filled with the likes of the Asus Zenfone 5Z, Poco F1 and even the LG G7 ThinQ, the Nova 3 just feels too underpowered.  Also, the display is just an LCD unit and the phone doesn’t even come with Huawei’s SuperCharge technology.

Samsung A9

Armed with not one, not two, not three but four cameras the Samsung A9 is different, to say the least. It even stays away from the notch trend and even brings in a SuperAMOLED display while at it. But sadly it falls back when compared to the OnePlus. The cameras although a plenty are not that good when it comes to picture quality.

The performance is the next part. While the phone isn’t slow when it comes to gaming the Snapdragon 660 cannot keep up with the Snapdragon 845 of the best picks we’ve listed.

LG V30+

A darling of audiophiles, the LG V30+ is still doing strong amongst the niche community, but for a general buyer out there it does lack when compared to the OnePlus 6T or Zenfone in terms of performance, software, design and cameras.

If however, these features are not what interest you and all you need is great audio quality, then do check out the LG G7 ThinQ, which is a more modern version of the V30+ and comes with a newer display, battery processor and faster charging.


Final thoughts

There was a time when the cream of the crop smartphones would be priced at around Rs.25000 to Rs.30000, but with innovation and, development, the flagship phones of today are reaching the Rs.1 lakh mark and that means all flagship killers now reside in the 30K spot.

When we set out researching for the very best smartphones in this range we found almost all manufacturers had something to offer at this price. But with some thorough reading and researching, we finally found two phone that deserves to be chosen.

The OnePlus 6T is the first phone we selected as it is truly the best smartphone under 35000. With top of the notch features like a Snapdragon 845 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, FHD+ AMOLED display, a glass body and super fast charging there's no defeating the OnePlus 6T that easily. Instead, the original flagship killer just got even better.

The Asus Zenfone 5z comes to a close and well deserving second. After being away from the value for money market for a long time, Asus finally has a winner in its hand. Matching the OnePlus 6 in terms of specifications, but beating it in price the Zenfone 5z is one of the best smartphone under 30000. A price point the OnePlus no longer sells smartphones in, this makes it the lone wolf with almost no challenger.