The Indian smartphone customer has never been spoilt for choice as now, with newer companies taking on more established marques, the ultimate winner is the consumer.

The last time we thoroughly tested and reviewed smartphones under Rs.10000, the Lenovo K8 Plus took the crown with its great build quality, stock android, long battery life and price beating the budget king, the Redmi Note 4. But in just a few months we have a whole new set of smartphones competing with each other.

We spent over 100 hours in the past year going through benchmarks, vetting recommendations and reading about the market trends and technologies from other reputed tech sites to truly help find the best smartphone for you. So sit back and read through all the work that we have done to help you find the best phones under Rs.10000.

Also, don’t forget to read our section at the end listing the competition to our best pick.

Best smartphone under Rs.10000

Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1

For a long time, the words budget and Xiaomi always went together like bread and butter, but the Asus Zenfone Max Pro was amongst the first to rattle Xiaomi at its game. Armed with the same processor and similar display as the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Asus’ phone managed to undercut the Redmi 5 Pro by nearly Rs.2000. All this while providing a much larger 5000mAh battery, a louder speaker, stock Android and even a dedicated sd card slot.

While a more affordable package than the Redmi, the Zenfone isn’t as good looking and doesn’t quite match the Note 5 Pro when it comes to camera quality. But again that humongous battery and low price does make our mouth water.

Pros

  • Amazing battery life

  • Stock Android goodness (two version updates promised)

  • Superb performance from the Snapdragon 636

  • Dedicated sd card slot

  • Superb pricing

  • Well built

  • Dual-4G VoLTE

  • Supports HD Playback for Netflix and Amazon Prime (Supports Widevine L1 certification)

Cons

  • Camera lags behind the others in terms of quality

  • Dull design

  • No Glass protection

What’s it missing

  • Wifi-ac

  • IR Blaster

  • Gorilla Glass

  • USB-C

  • Quick Charging

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

  • Super slow motion video

  • Stereo speakers

Where to buy it?

Best Phone under Rs.10000 (Also Good)

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro

The Redmi 6 Pro is the most expensive of the Redmi series of smartphones by Xiaomi (barring the Redmi Note series) and it slots into the space of the previous Redmi Note 5. Internally it does seem to be the same as the Redmi Note 5, though there are some changes like the new notched display, the dual camera sensors and a whole raft of colour options.

While the processor may be getting a little old it does still perform well and helps give the phone its amazing battery life.

Pros

  • Superb screen with good brightness and contrast

  • Great battery life

  • Good build quality

  • Good camera quality

  • Has IR Blaster support

Cons

  • MIUI is not everyone's cup of tea

  • Notch looks ugly

  • Dated processor

  • Cannot use two active Jio sims on the phone

What's it missing?

  • USB-C

  • Fast Charging

  • Dual 4G VOLTE

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

  • 4K Video

  • Super slow motion video

  • Stereo speakers

  • Wifi-ac

Where to buy it?

Best Budget smartphone under Rs.10000

Infinix Note 5

The Infinix Note 5 brings a stylish glass-like design and the pureness of stock Android to the under Rs.10000 budget. It is powered by a MediaTek P23 processor that is decently powerful, has a good display, a large battery and a segment first feature of fast charging (18W).

The cameras on the Infinix are not as good as the competition and they even lack a dual sensor arrangement. But for the price it commands, the Infinix Note 5 powered by Android One is no doubt the best smartphone under 10000 in the budget category.

Pros

  • Superb screen with good brightness and contrast

  • Good performance from the MediaTek P23

  • Great battery life

  • Good build quality with stylish design

  • Fast charging support (Charger provided in the box)

  • Dedicated sd card slot

  • Dual 4G VoLTE support

  • Value price

Cons

  • Cameras not as competent as the others

  • Processor isn’t the latest

  • Slow fingerprint sensor

What's it missing?

  • USB-C

  • Gorilla Glass protection

  • Secondary camera (No optical zoom, wide angle)

  • 4K Video

  • Super slow motion video

  • Stereo speakers

  • IR Blaster

  • Wifi-ac

Where to buy it?


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


How we selected?

If you look at the smartphone market at any point in time you will easily find hundreds of different products from many known and unknown brands. By the time you sit to read about what is really unique in each one of the phones and its pros and cons, you will probably have another few dozen smartphone launches.

From the hundreds of smartphones available in the market, we shortlisted the bestsellers with the best reviews. We also ensured that the phones were recent ones, launched within the last few months.

From our shortlist of phones, we picked the top three, which had a reputation for having a good blend of features, had at least 3 GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, and a screen size above 5 inches with a Full HD display and a fingerprint sensor.

To understand the merits and flaws in the picks we went through website reviews and customer reviews before deciding on the best picks.


Best phone under 10000 in detail

Specifications

Design: Feels solid, not solid looking enough

When Asus launched the Zenfone Max Pro M1 a few months back their only real goal was to usurp the market position of the Redmi Note 5 Pro. To a large extent, they did manage this while still undercutting the Xiaomi by a few thousand rupees.

But this price cut has meant that the Zenfone isn’t quite a looked and instead just blends into the market. Design aside it is well built with a metal frame and metal back that feels solid.

Also, while it does maintain the 3.5mm jack there is still the older generation micro USB port rather than a modern USB Type C. But even the Redmi Note 5 Pro misses it.

Android Central liked the tactile feel provided by the buttons and were very pleased with the dedicated slot for the SD card along with the twin sim slots.

Upfront the display takes up most of the space but isn’t quite as fullscreen as more modern phones or even the Redmi 6 Pro. This is due to Asus going in for an 18:9 panel which doesn't have a notch. To save costs Asus has skimped on Gorilla Glass protection this time around. At the rear, you get a vertically stacked camera arrangement along with the fingerprint sensor.

Provided in the phone's box is also an accessory called as the Max Box which lets you insert the phone into it to amplify its sound.

Software: Not Android One, but good enough

On the Zenfone Max Pro M1 Asus has done away with their heavy custom skin to make way for a more leaner ZenUI, which frankly feels and performs like stock Android. While it isn't as good as Android One it is better than custom skins like MIUI and EMUI. Asus has also promised to update the phone with Android P and Android Q.

There are some apps installed like FB, Instagram and Asus’ own digital wallet, although they are nowhere as shady as apps found on other phones and can, in fact, be uninstalled. You also get all the useful features found on Oreo, like split-screen multitasking and notification dots.

What we liked is Asus is constantly giving out updates to improve the hardware. Everything from the camera, video recording and the fingerprint sensor have seen improvements with each update. This shows the efforts the brand is taking to really improve the experience for the customer.

Hardware: Ticks off most of the boxes

Android Central was mighty impressed with the display of the Max Pro M1 calling it one of the better displays in this category. The display is an 18:9 panel with a size of 5.99-inches and a resolution of 2160x1080. Android Central loved the contrast levels which they said was excellent along with the vibrant colours and the brightness under sunlight.

The Snapdragon 636 powering the M1 (Okay, we have to accept that the name of the phone is unnecessarily long) is a vast improvement over the Snapdragon 625 processor that would be available at this price point. This even shows in the benchmarks as it outpaces the Redmi 6 Pro and the Infinix Note 5. The only processor that beats the Snapdragon is the MediaTek P60 on the Realme 1, but that phone really doesn’t make use of all the performance due to its custom skin bogging it down.

NDTV Gadgets was happy with the performance from the 3GB RAM variant as well,  which they felt did not slow down any process. Apps were smooth and opened up quickly. The powerful processor also makes high-end gaming possible although the phone does heat up a little due to its metal back acting as a heat dissipator.

The Max Pro M1 does come with a single bottom mounted speaker and while it does get very loud both NDTV Gadgets and Android Central found it to be muddy with the details. The Max Box provided borders more into gimmickry than genuine usefulness as the sound only marginally amplifies by directing it towards you but it's not very useful as you can’t use it in landscape mode.

For connectivity, you have Bluetooth 4.2, 802.11 Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, GPS, USB-OTG, FM Radio and GLONASS. You also have Dual band 4G VoLTE.

You have a fingerprint sensor for security and Asus has even given out an OTA update that adds face unlocking to the phone. The fingerprint sensor isn’t known to be fast but Asus has been pushing out updates to improve it.

Camera: A mixed bag

Camera hardware on the M1 is a 13 MPx camera and 5 MPx depth sensor at the back with an 8 MPx front camera. In the daylight conditions, NDTV Gadgets liked the M1’s camera as it output images with vibrant colours, nice details and did well with depth-mode photos as well. There is the issue of focus hunting at night along with the usual noise creeping into photos.

The selfie camera also performs well with good details and colours. It's only when the light goes down and you turn on the flash that the main issue crops up. The flash is simply too harsh on your face and does give out a diffused light.

NDTV Gadgets also found the camera app to be a little clunky with confusing menus and hidden controls. Even basic like turning on video recording need many clicks before selecting. Then there is the lack of a manual mode in the camera app.

One thing the M1 can do that the Redmi Note 5 Pro cannot, is capture video in 4K. You even get the option to choose between 4K DCI and 4K UHD (DCI is wider than UHD). The quality of the recording is good in most lighting conditions but there is a lot of focus hunting.

The 6GB version of the M1 does bring along an improved 16 MPx sensor both at the rear and the front. If you liked the M1’s performance and stock software and have an issue with the camera you can give the 6GB variant a try or go with the Redmi 6 Pro.

Battery: Great battery life with decently fast charging

With the modern and efficient processor and a humongous 5000mAh battery expecting great battery life on the phone is a given. Beebom found that even with heavy usage the phone easily lasts two days with the screen on time of at least 10 hours. NDTV Gadgets HD loop test lasted for 13 hours and 29 minutes which is less than expected but they performed their tests on pre-release firmware.

Charging the phone with the provided 10W charger takes less than three hours which is very good considering the size of the battery. A Quick Charger would have sliced off some more time but would have increased costs.


Best Phone under Rs.10000

Specifications

The most expensive of the new generation of Redmi series of smartphone, the Redmi 6 Pro is a lot of new and a lot of old stuffed together into one package. Improvements include a more modern design with a slimmer bezel, metal build quality and dual cameras at the rear.

Xiaomi has also introduced the Redmi 6 Pro in four colours, the usual black and gold but also added in the blue and red colours due to popularity.

The thing that has changed the most is the display which this time around is a 5.84-inch Full HD+ unit. NDTV Gadgets found the contrast and brightness of the display to be adequate. They were not happy with the lack of a branded toughened glass although the phone does have some type of protection.

The notch on the phone further divides opinions due to its sheer size despite the fact that there is not much hardware that the notch aims to hide. You get only a single sensor camera and no dedicated face unlock hardware.

In terms of performance, the phone does not change much over the Redmi Note 5 and makes do with the Snapdragon 625 processor which has been seen on phones like the Redmi Note 4, Mi A1 and Mi Max 2. While it is no slouch in performance, in fact, the chipset is legendary for the battery efficiency, it lags behind in gaming when compared to the latest phones. PUBG defaults to low settings and still isn't the smoothest experience. If gaming is what you seek then the Asus is what you must pick.

The Redmi 6 Pro sold abroad (called as the Mi A2 Lite) does ship with Android One, while in India we get MIUI 10 on board. The newer version of MIUI brings some new visual tweaks, new system apps, nature-inspired sounds and a new task switcher. Sadly the amount of bloatware has gone up too and there is the new addition of ads in system apps which can really get on your nerve. Xiaomi has acknowledged this and will allow you to turn it off in the future.

Given that there is a notch, Xiaomi has allowed you the option to turn it off as well. But NDTV Gadgets found that this caused issues with apps with scaling.

For security, you get a fingerprint scanner as well as face unlock. Both work well but the face unlocking feature has issues at night.

In terms of connectivity you have Bluetooth 4.2, dual-band 802.11 Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, GPS, USB-OTG, FM Radio and GLONASS. Remember how we said the Snapdragon 625 is an old chipset? Well, that means the Redmi 6 Pro doesn’t support Dual 4G VoLTE.

Xiaomi has this time kept the IR Blaster on the phone unlike on the Redmi 6A and Redmi 6. This makes it easier for you to control your television and other remote controlled home appliances with your Redmi 6 Pro.

The single speaker is mounted at the bottom of the phone, a much better position than the rear mounted Redmi 6 and 6A. The speaker wasn’t very loud according to NDTV Gadgets who loved the audio quality through the wired headphone jack more.

The Redmi 6 Pro to brings in a dual camera setup at the rear like the Redmi 6 but despite the similar specifications they are not the same. The Redmi 6 Pro has PDAF focusing and auto HDR as well. This allows for quick focusing in good light, great details and pleasing colours as reported by NDTV Gadgets. Of the three best picks we have, the Redmi 6 Pro is what you must pick if you want a good camera.

In low light, however, the colours are dull with a drop in details Portrait mode is also present but NDTV Gadgets were no very happy with the edge detection.

The selfie duties are handled by a 5 MPx sensor that works well under good light but becomes noisy under low light.

Video recording is actually quite good with the help of EIS give you smooth stabilisation and no jelly effect. Sadly this time around there is no 4K video recording which was present on the Note 4 and Note 5.

The large 4000mAh battery makes a comeback this time and you can easily cross a days use with it. NDTV Gadgets found the battery to last 16 hours and 45 minutes in their loop time which is impressive given the Full HD+ display.

The large battery and lack of fast charging mean the phone does take some time to fuel up, but it's not as slow as the Redmi 6. Using the provided 10W charger the phone can charge completely in two and a half hours.


Best Budget smartphone under Rs.10000 - in detail

Specifications

After not making quite the mark with their heavily skinned smartphones, Infinix has gone all vanilla with their successor to the Note 4- the Note 5 (and the Note 5 Stylus). Being a part of Android One takes away the worry that most people associate with budget phones when it comes to updates. Android One program guarantees at least two years of regular and fast software updates.

The design of the phone is modern too with an 18:9 Full HD+ panel, slim side bezels and a glass back with some interesting colours. Although it isn't glass but polycarbonate, the 10-layers of coatings give it a very nice shimmer making it one of the best-looking smartphones in its class. There is a case provided in the box to keep smudges away from the back and we recommend you to strictly use it.

The display is of very good quality and goes up to 500 nits of brightness. BGR loved the colour reproduction, the sharpness and the outdoor performance of the display. Only missing component here is Gorilla Glass protection.

The processor powering the display is a Mediatek P23 octa-core unit which is from the same generation as the Snapdragon 625 so it really cannot compete with the 636 powered Asus. Although it does do well with gaming and everyday tasks. Just don't stress it with high settings in graphics-heavy games like PUBG and you should be fine.

For connectivity, you get Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth, USB-OTG, and GPS. The phone also supports two sim cards along with a dedicated microSD card. The Note 5 also has support for Dual 4G VoLTE which allows you to use two Jio sim cards on the same phone.

For unlocking the phone you get a rear mounted fingerprint sensor which although positioned very nicely isn't the best part of the Note 5. According to NDTV Gadgets, the sensor is slow to recognise fingerprints and needs you to reposition your fingerprints.

The software on the Infinix Note 5 is pure, stock Android 8.1 Oreo (at the time of writing) and it comes with almost no bloatware giving you a smooth, fast and lag-free software experience. The only apps installed are Infinix’ support app and an Xclub forum app.

Unlike the many dual sensor cameras present in this price range Infinix sticks to a single rear sensor and even gives you the bokeh effect- sort of like what Google does with its Pixel lineup.

Coming to the image quality, they are decent at best with NDTV Gadgets finding good colour reproduction under bright light but fewer details on a few photos. While there is HDR mode, there is no Auto HDR option. Macro shots are also a task to capture due to the slow focusing. Coming to portrait mode they found the camera to detect edges reasonably well but miss out some spaces when it came to blurring them.

Selfie duties are handled by a 16 MPx sensor which has good details but blows out the saturation. The selfie camera also captures portrait mode but has much weaker edge detection. Low-light performance isn't very good with the photos lacking in details although they do appear to look good in terms of colours.

The Note 5 supports up to 1080p 30fps video on both the front and the rear cameras. While the quality is decent the video isn't stable due to lack of EIS.

On NDTV Gadgets HD video loop test the phone lasted for 9 hours and 40 minutes which is not as good as some of the budget phones like the Realme C1 or even the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1. But with normal usage, you can easily last around two days on a single charge.

Given the large 4500mAh, you would expect the Note 5 to charge in a couple of hours but that's not the case here. With the bundled 18W fast charger the phone can fully charge in around 2 hours which is superb.


Who are our best picks for?

The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 is not from this price category but for just a little more money you get one of the most powerful processors in the mid-range segment. This makes the phone perfect for gamers and movie heads. The large 5000mAh battery also helps in this regards. Sadly the camera and design aren’t the best but as a gaming or media consumption device, it ticks all the boxes.

The Redmi 6 Pro meanwhile offers a good dual camera which lets you capture some amazing moments. While the processor is a little old in the tooth, it is still quite capable and is highly regarded for its performance and power efficiency. The quality display and long battery make the Redmi 6 Pro an ideal phone for most users.

The Infinix Note 5 is priced very well in this segment and gives you the benefit of stock Android courtesy of Android One. This means lag-free software and quick updates. The Note 5 is also quite stylish to look at with the glass-like display which comes in three premium colours. The performance from the processor isn’t the same as on the Asus but it doesn’t hamper everyday usage. Add in the great display, good battery life and fast charging and you have one of the best smartphone in India under 10000 in the budget segment.


Who is the competition?

Honor 9 lite

If there was a prize for the best-looking phone then the Honor 9 lite would definitely get picked, adorned with a lustrous glass back the Honor 9 lite looks far more premium than it is. Add to it the good cameras and you’d think it is the best in the segment. Well, not quite, the processor, software, small display and battery to take off some points from it. But if you can get it on offer and you are okay with the compromises to get a good looking camera phone then you can pick up the Honor 9 lite.

Redmi Y2

Priced at nearly Rs.12999 the Redmi Y2 uses the same Snapdragon 625 processor as the Note 5 but comes with an HD+ display, just 3080 mAh of battery and nothing significantly better than we can think of. All the selfie talk aside, what we don't understand is why to buy the Y2 when the Redmi 6 Pro and even Note 6 Pro offers a much better display, larger battery and great cameras.

Realme 1

Oppo’s sub-brand designed to take on Xiaomi’s Redmi series did wow users with its price tag of around Rs.9000 especially considering the powerful Mediatek P60 processor and diamond cut design at the rear. But that's about it that’s nice about the Realme 1, everything else from the software to the camera is rather lacklustre. Then there is the obvious lack of a fingerprint sensor and slow charging. If you really want good performance we suggest you look at the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 which does offer much better software experience and battery life.

Realme 2

A phone that was supposed to be an upgrade to the Realme 1, turned out to be more of an affordable sidekick. Priced the same as the Realme 1, the Realme 2 comes with a lowered screen resolution (HD+ from FHD+) and a much less powerful processor (Snapdragon 450 from the Mediatek P60) this certainly hasn't gone down well with most users who were expecting a much better spec sheet. For that budget, feel free to pick the Infinix Note 5 which gives you a gorgeous display, stock Android and a decently powerful processor.

Moto E5

The latest in the line of budget phones from Motorola, the E5 feels a little weird in the price category its launched at. Priced at Rs.10000, the E5 has an entry level snapdragon 425 that's also found on phones half its price and then there is the HD display and plasticky built quality. All these don't necessarily inspire confidence to the person spending nearly 10 grand on the product. We suggest you give this a miss and pick any one of our best picks.

Lenovo K9

Priced at Rs.8999, the Lenovo K9 makes do with a smaller than usual 5.7-inch display, HD+ resolution, Mediatek P22 processor and a meagre 3000maAh battery. In the real world, the display and cameras do not perform very well and the battery life is average at best. For this price we suggest you look at the Infinix Note 5

Honor 9N

Usually priced around Rs.11000, the Honor 9N has three really good features- design, camera and display. These three are balanced out by three not so good features- software, processor and battery life. But it if you are a die-hard Honor fan and love their cameras. If not go for the Redmi Note 6 Pro or the Infinix.

Nokia 3.1

One of the many Nokia smartphones available in the market, the 3.1 give you a tiny 5.2 inch display, HD resolution, Quad-core processor and a 2990mAH battery. You probably know by now what we feel about it. The only saving grace is the software which is stock Android and Nokia has a very good track record of updating their phones. If you want the same software experience but with much better features, look at the Android One powered Infinix Note 5.

Nokia 3.1 Plus

An improvement over the Nokia 3.1, the 3.1 Plus gets an octa-core P22 processor, dual rear cameras and a small boost in battery life. This has also increased the price a bit which does give it the same value for money appeal as our best picks.

Nokia 5.1 Plus

Despite an increment in the numbering, the 5.1 Plus costs less than the 3.1 Plus for some strange reason. Anyways, of the three Nokia phones we talked about, the 5.1 Plus offers the most powerful processor- the Mediatek P60, good cameras but makes do with an HD+ display and a tiny 3000mAh battery. If you want the performance and are not too keen on pure value for money and the HD display won’t bother you then you can pick this up. If however, you want a higher resolution display, great design and better features pick the Infinix or the Asus.  

Final Thoughts

Given the fierce competition in the market and the sheer number of competitors finding the best smartphone can be a hard task.

The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 is all about the performance and with the Snapdragon 636 you are pretty capable of playing any game on the Play store. Asus also offers a stock Android experience with a long battery life and good audio capability. The phone is perfect for a performance user if you don't mind the phone being priced slightly above Rs.10000.

The Redmi 6 Pro takes Xiaomi’s tried and tested formula of an established processor and large battery and adds a bit of spice to it with a modern display and dual cameras. And this actually works as you get great photos, the display quality is good, you get decent performance and a long battery life. Overall it delivers for the price making it one of the best phone under 10000 in India.

Despite the budget price, the Infinix Note 5 offers a great design, decent performance, bright display and the peace of mind of Android One. Starting at around Rs.9999 it's the undoubtedly best budget smartphone under 10000.

Recommended Reading

As these smartphones listed above do not come with bundled earphones, you can pair your Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, Redmi 6 Pro or your Infinix Note 5 with these awesome audio devices for a great listening experience.

Alternatively, you can try out these accessories to further improve your smartphone experience.

Sources