There was a time when buying a phone for Rs.5000 meant buying something that had absolutely no features, terrible display, had poor and laggy performance and poor build quality. Enter 2018 and you have a few really good phones that do not feel cheap despite their low price tags. Xiaomi once dominated this space but now they have moved up a notch when it comes to pricing, which has left the market open to attack from other players like Asus, Infinix and Honor. While in the present scenario you do not have phones that are available exactly at the Rs.5000 mark spending a little extra does get you some really great picks.
To help you find the best phone for your buck, we spent over a day pouring over reviews from popular technology websites and e-commerce websites like Amazon and Flipkart.
Best phone under 5000
The Redmi 6A meant to serve as an upgrade to the hugely popular Redmi 5A. The 6A brings some useful updates to the display, processor and software which improves the overall experience.
Xiaomi has kept changing the price of the 6A with it getting a hike some time back, but finally, the price has reduced to Rs.5999 and that makes it a worthy addition to this segment. Read more about how well the Redmi 6A performs in our best phone under 7000 article.
Decent design and comes with four colours
Comes with the latest MIUI based on Oreo
Decent everyday performance
Bright display with good viewing angles and colour reproduction
Good battery life
Dual sim slot with dedicated micro sd slot
Decent build quality
No 3GB RAM version
Pricier than its predecessor
Riddled with bloatware
Slow charging speed
Face unlock can be tricked with a photo
If you want (2GB ram/32GB internal storage) purchase it on Amazon
If you want (2GB ram/16GB internal storage) purchase it on Amazon
Best smartphone under Rs.5000
Asus ZenFone Lite L1
Priced at Rs.5999 Asus’ latest budget offering doesn't feel cheap at least on paper. It offers a modern 18:9 aspect ratio display, face unlock, has triple slots for sim and microSD card and has good cameras as well. Also while the software is Asus’ own ZenUI it feels stockish and is light enough to work smoothly and before we forget you do get an octa-core SoC- the Snapdragon 430, so performance is also decent at the price.
In the real world, the build quality is decent, you can game on it (at low settings), the battery life is very good and the display is bright as well. The only thing to lament about the Lite would be the lack of a fingerprint sensor and the low RAM which reduces the number of apps you can use.
Decent performance from the Snapdragon 430 SoC
Decent everyday performance
Bright display with good viewing angles and colour reproduction
Good battery life
Dual sim slot with a dedicated micro sd slot
Decent build quality
LED notification light is present
Decent cameras for the price
Face unlock can be fooled with a high-resolution photo
Slow charging speed
SD card cannot be used as internal storage
2GB of RAM limits multitasking
What's it missing
Dual 4G VoLTE
Gorilla Glass protection
Where can I buy it?
This is a really long post! Use these links to jump around.
How we selected?
We started by listing all the phones in the Rs.5000 price category. The shortlist criteria we used to select the best of this lot we as follows.
Minimum 2GB ram
Minimum 16GB internal storage
Minimum HD resolution
We were a little flexible with the budget this time as most of the really popular budget phones are now priced above Rs.5000 with many getting a price hike due to the market conditions.
Best pick in detail
Display: 5.45 inch, 1440 x 720 resolution, 295 ppi, 18:9,
Hardware: Snapdragon 430, 2GB RAM, 16/32 GB internal storage
Sensors and Extras: Proximity sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetic sensor, led notification light
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, FM Radio, GPS, GLONASS
Expandability: 2x Nano SIM slots + dedicated SD card slot, micro USB, OTG support
Software: Android 8.0 with ZenUI
Camera: 13 MPx rear camera with single LED flash, 5 MPx front camera, 1080p@30fps
Battery: 3000 mAh with 5W charger
Colours: Black, Gold
Design & Build: Well built for the price
While the Zenfone Lite is no looker certainly when compared to the many competitors in the market, the 18:9 aspect ratio does make it look modern. While the bezels at the side are minimal, the top and bottom ones still exist. They are, however, much smaller than older generation phones.
The rear is clean with just a camera and flash taking up space. The camera sensor does look large and doesn't sit flush with the body.
Ergonomically the light weight of the phone coupled with the rounded corners makes it easy to hold without causing any irritation to your hands. The buttons too are made of plastic but Beebom found them tactile to press.
It also comes in just two colour variants, Black and Gold which is far too less when compared to the likes of Redmi 6A which boasts a much larger colour palette.
Asus gave the Lite L1 a triple slot for 2x nano Sims and one microSD card which makes it very convenient for people upgrading to the phone.
Despite what the looks and price suggest, Beebom found the device to be decently built. There were no creaks from the phone which implies good build quality.
The phone is made of polycarbonate but has a metal finish at the back that looks like it's expensive cousin, the Zenfone Max M1.
Software: Near stock Android with a little bloat
The Zenfone comes with near stock Android with a light Asus skin on the top called ZenUI. It is at least based on Android Oreo which although not the latest, is better than most.
In terms of design, ZenUI looks like Samsung's Grace UI and has features like Xiaomi’s MIUI. But there is still the useful app drawer present and most of the bloatware bundled can be uninstalled.
The skin also has options to scale your apps to the tall aspect ratio. Audio controls are something Asus has always given on their phone and the Lite L1 too supports and equaliser for games, movies and music.
Since its launch, Asus has already given out three updates which improve system stability, update the security patch level and reduce face unlock time. Whether the phone will get an update to Android 9.0 Pie is a mystery as even Asus’ flagship phones like the Zenfone 5Z is rumoured to get it late- approximately the start of next year.
Hardware: Very Good hardware for the price
The display is small at 5.45-inch, especially when compared to the 6+ inches of monster displays we see today. Given the price of the phone, you get only an HD+ display which comes to around 1440 x 720 pixels. While there is basic scratch protection, the phone doesn't come with Corning’s Gorilla Glass.
The panel itself is good as both Beebom and Indian Express were impressed with its brightness (400 nits), good colour reproduction (65% of NTSC), good viewing angles (IPS) and good sunlight legibility.
Another aspect about the display that Beebom noted was that the white balance is a little towards the cooler side.
Given the budget prices, the speaker is a mono unit mounted at the bottom and isn't very good, to begin with. The audio quality while decent starts to crack at high volume and have a very tinny sound as pointed out by Beebom and Indian Express.
For security, you do get face unlock but due to the lack of any additional hardware (IR sensor- dot projector), the implementation just uses the camera and software to recognise your face. Most reviewers found it to take around two seconds to unlock. Like other budget offerings, it too can be fooled with a high-quality photograph into unlocking the phone.
Coming to connectivity it features Wifi-N, GPS, Glonass, and Bluetooth 4.0. The phone also supports 4G VoLTE but on only one sim for now. Although both sims support 4G. For phone calls, Beebom found phone calls to be clear for both sides with decent noise cancellation even though the phone doesn't have a noise cancellation mic.
Under the hood, the Asus Zenfone Lite L1 has a Snapdragon 430 processor which is an octave core unit. Now, this processor can be excellent for gaming, if the games you play are Subway Surfer, Temple Run and so on. But playing high graphics games like PUBG is also no big deal if you are okay with the low graphics settings and occasionally frame drops.
The Asus, in fact, is much more powerful than the MediaTek MT6739 Quad-core unit found on the Honor 7s and Infinix Smart 2. It trounces the Mediatek powered phones in processing and graphics as well as can be seen from the benchmarks.
Only the Redmi 6A (which is priced more than the Zenfone) beats it in CPU benchmarks because it uses a more modern processor, but the Zenfone does hit back with better gaming performance.
The 2 GB of RAM doesn't really help much in terms of performance, while it is perfectly okay for everyday use with a few apps. Adding anything heavy like a few games will slow down your usage drastically.
Another drawback is the fact that you cannot use the microSD card as your internal memory as NDTV Gadgets found out in their review.
Camera: Decent cameras for the price
Dual cameras at this price point would be wrong to expect, but the single 13MPx unit on the Lite is not bad at all, especially when you factor in the price. The rear camera comes with a LED flash and so does the front 5MPx unit which is a welcome addition at this price. Not that just, both the cameras even support portrait mode, beauty mode, timelapse, HDR and filters.
Under good lighting conditions, the photos taken on the phone exhibit good colours and decent details. Where the quality drops is in low light with heavy noise seeping into the photos.
The portrait mode present on the phone does well to stimulate the Bokeh effect but Beebom found it to be poor with edge detection.
The case is similar with the front facing camera which takes decent photos but is a little soft in details due to the obvious lack of resolution. The things turn to worse when the Sun goes down and the portrait mode suffers from the same poor edge detection here as well.
Video recording is rather surprising at its price not just due to the fact that there is video recording- that is no big deal but the fact that you get Full HD video recording. In fact, Beebom found that the quality was good, just a little shaky due to the lack of any video stabilization.
Battery: Good battery life
Like most phones in its class the Lite L1 too has a 3000mAh battery and due to its HD screen and entry-level processor, you can easily get a days worth of battery life. During the PCMark test, the phone lasted for about 9 hours and 44 minutes. Beebom found it could charge from 10%-100% in around 140 minutes, which is pretty slow given the 5W charger bundled with it.
Who is it for?
The Zenfone Lite L1 makes for a great beginner smartphone if you want to jump on the 4G bandwagon without shelling out too much. It has a good display and camera as well so you can use it to watch movies and capture some images for social media. The decent battery life and performance mean you can use it for long. It works great as a secondary smartphone as well if you want to declutter your smartphone.
Who is the competition?
Making an entry to India after a long time, Meizu’s first smartphone is the C9 which is their entry-level offering. Boasting pretty much the same specifications as our best picks in terms of display, cameras and RAM/ Storage the Meizu is let down by the UniSoc processor. Users complained about the laggy performance, poor touch response and missing features for the software. Stick to the Asus for a stock experience or the Redmi 6A if you need many features.
The latest offering from the now bankrupt Gionee, the F205 doesn’t really ooze confidence for the brand. The older generation processor, Android 7.1 (two versions old) and the tiny battery really don't offer anything new for the price of Rs.5699. Stay with our best picks.
The Lenovo A5 is actually pretty similar to the Redmi 6A but comes with an even bigger 4000mAh battery but most people complained about two main aspect of the phone- its poor cameras and the poor/ laggy everyday performance.
Infinix Smart 2
The Infinx Smart 2 is identical to the Honor 7s in specifications and price but comes with Infinix’s own custom UI which further slows down the already slow internals. Then there are the terrible cameras, which fall far behind the ones on the Zenfone and the average build quality on top of that means its best to stick to the Zenfone Lite L1 which has decent build quality, good cameras and near stock software.
The Honor 7s is priced similar to the Zenfone but comes with a more feeble processor that scores terribly in graphics. Add in the poor cameras and slow overall performance means it's not worth it for the price.
Micromax Bharat 5 Pro
Priced at Rs.6000 the Micromax Bharat 5 Pro does seem like a good deal with its 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage but looking through real-world usage you can see many people complaining about the sub-par touch experience, the poor screen and the slow processor. If you do need more RAM and performance we suggest you look at our best picks under Rs.7000 or Rs.8000.
The Nokia 1 is a rather odd smartphone as it is dirt cheap has Android GO which is designed to work with low-end hardware and given Nokia’s fantastic record with updates should be an easy recommendation. But we wouldn't do that as the display is terrible, the cameras average, the build plasticky and the price- a little too much for what it offers.
Samsung Galaxy J2 Core
The J2 Core is basically Samsung’s take on the low-end Android Go software, but ith jsut 1GB or Ram and 8GB of internal storage coupled with that low-end processor, we recommend you only “Go” towards the Zenfone Lite.
iVooMi’s claim to fame is the shatterproof display that they have been providing for quite some time now on their budget handsets. Despite that and its low Rs.4999 price, the phone is pretty low rated on Flipkart with common issues with random slowdowns, overheating, poor performance, average battery life and bad camera.
The last time we wrote about the best smartphones under Rs.5000, we declared the 10.or D as the winner due to its ample RAM, stock Android and segment-first fingerprint sensor. But with the 10.or D2, the company has made many downgrades.
Smartphones below the Rs.10000 price point were always notorious for their terrible performance and bad cameras, but over the years we have seen tremendous improvements in this segments and with competition growing you get good, usable smartphones at even half the price.
Offering an amazing display for its class and an improved processor the Redmi 6A once again takes the top spot in the segment. This time around it even boasts a modern design and much better software too.
The Asus Zenfone Lite L1 too has a modern and bright display, enough performance for your everyday needs can power you through the day and has good cameras for when you need to capture that important moment. Our take is that it is simply one of the best smartphone in the Rs.5000 segment.