Update, 03 February 2017: The Redmi Note 4 is now our top budget pick in India.

Best overall

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4

See at Flipkart

The Redmi Note 4 is the phone to beat in the budget segment. It offers a 5.5-inch Full HD display with 2.5D curved glass, a premium design with an all-metal chassis and contoured edges, and class-leading battery life.

For the first time, Xiaomi is offering a variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage in this segment, making the device an even more enticing option. The Redmi Note 4 is available in three configurations, with the base version coming with 2GB of RAM and 32GB storage for just ₹9,999. The Redmi Note 4 has a hybrid SIM card slot, so if you want to use two SIM cards, you should get the 64GB version.

The phone runs MIUI 8 based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box, with Xiaomi rolling out software updates with stability fixes once every two weeks. If you're new to the MIUI ecosystem, there's plenty to explore.

The camera has received a sizeable upgrade as well, and it now takes great images in daylight conditions. Overall, you're getting a phone that offers an incredible amount of features for not a whole lot of money.

Bottom line: A premium aluminum design, great battery life, decent camera, and attractive pricing make the Redmi Note 4 the standout device in this category. For its retail price, it's bordering on illegal to ask for more.

One more thing: Xiaomi is testing the Nougat update for the phone. It's in preview right now, but a stable build should be available shortly.

Why the Redmi Note 4 is the best

Xiaomi has figured out the formula to succeed in India's competitive budget segment: offer a handset packed to the gills with features, and price it lower than its rivals. The Redmi Note 3 relied on this formula and became a runaway hit, selling over 3.6 million units in just ten months.

The Redmi Note 4 also follows the same principles. The phone comes with a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS LCD display, Snapdragon 625 with eight Cortex A53 cores, a 13MP rear camera with PDAF and dual-tone LED flash, 5MP front camera, and a massive 4100mAh battery.

The design is much more premium than its predecessor, and the camera is of a higher quality. It'll take you the better part of a day to explore everything MIUI 8 has to offer, and you won't be lacking for battery at the end of the day thanks to the efficient processor and huge battery.

You even get an IR blaster that lets you control appliances in your house. There's no dearth of features on the Redmi Note 4, and all things considered, you're getting a lot for your money.

Best camera

Honor 6X

Honor 6X

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If you associate with the phrase "digital native," then the Honor 6X is the phone for you. The highlight of the phone is the dual camera setup at the back, which sees a 12MP camera joined by a 2MP shooter that adds depth of field to your images. The camera app offers a ton of shooting modes — there's one for "Good food" — and there are several filters to choose from.

The hardware is on par with what Xiaomi has to offer with the Redmi Note 4. You get a 5.5-inch Full HD display, an octa-core Kirin 655 SoC, 4GB of RAM, 8MP front camera, and a 3340mAh battery.

The software has its drawbacks, but that will be fixed soon with the Nougat update, which will introduce the vastly improved EMUI 5.0.

Bottom line: The camera is the standout feature of the Honor 6X, but the phone is kitted out very well elsewhere too.

One more thing: The Honor 6X is available in two variants: one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage for ₹12,999, and a model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage for ₹15,999.

Best for updates

Moto G4 Plus

Moto G4 Plus

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The Moto G series has picked up a considerable upgrade in the Moto G4 Plus, which offers a 5.5-inch Full HD display, 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage, and a fingerprint sensor. Then there's the 16MP camera with PDAF, which is not only the best we've seen in a budget Motorola phone, but also one of the best shooters in this segment.

The Moto G4 Plus is powered by a Snapdragon 617 SoC with eight Cortex A53 cores — four clocked at 1.5GHz and the other four at 1.2GHz — and an Adreno 405 GPU clocked at 550MHz. Combine that with vanilla Android and a few proprietary features such as Moto Actions and you get a handset that offers a lag-free experience. You also get a dedicated microSD card slot, along with dual SIM card slots.

You get the promise of quick updates with the Moto G4 Plus, and the phone is the first in India — outside of the Pixel and Nexus devices — to pick up the Nougat update. Motorola's commitment to a clean software experience gives it the edge over its Chinese competitors.

The Moto G4 Plus also features Motorola's TurboPower quick charging, with a 25W charger bundled in the box. When you run out of juice from the 3000mAh battery, you'll be able to get up to three hours' worth of usage from a 15-minute charge.

Bottom line: The Moto G4 Plus isn't as powerful as other phones in this category, but it gets the basics right. If you want a phone with clean software, great camera, and quick updates, the Moto G4 Plus should be high on your list.

One more thing: Although the Moto G4 Plus has a microSD card, you should pick up the model with 32GB base storage, which costs just ₹1,500 more.

Conclusion

The budget category fields over a hundred devices, but if you're looking for a phone that offers the most value for your money, then the Redmi Note 4 is at the top of that list. Even on the base model that costs just ₹9,999, you get a great design, incredible hardware, amazing battery life, and a camera that holds its own.

Best overall

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4

See at Flipkart

The Redmi Note 4 is the phone to beat in the budget segment. It offers a 5.5-inch Full HD display with 2.5D curved glass, a premium design with an all-metal chassis and contoured edges, and class-leading battery life.

For the first time, Xiaomi is offering a variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage in this segment, making the device an even more enticing option. The Redmi Note 4 is available in three configurations, with the base version coming with 2GB of RAM and 32GB storage for just ₹9,999. The Redmi Note 4 has a hybrid SIM card slot, so if you want to use two SIM cards, you should get the 64GB version.

The phone runs MIUI 8 based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box, with Xiaomi rolling out software updates with stability fixes once every two weeks. If you're new to the MIUI ecosystem, there's plenty to explore.

The camera has received a sizeable upgrade as well, and it now takes great images in daylight conditions. Overall, you're getting a phone that offers an incredible amount of features for not a whole lot of money.

Bottom line: A premium aluminum design, great battery life, decent camera, and attractive pricing make the Redmi Note 4 the standout device in this category. For its retail price, it's bordering on illegal to ask for more.

One more thing: Xiaomi is testing the Nougat update for the phone. It's in preview right now, but a stable build should be available shortly.