The big news with our latest update is the departure of the OnePlus Nord, which has been consistently popular since its launch a year ago. With a new model confirmed to launch very soon, the original Nord is no longer available and so there’s a temporary absence from our list. The intriguing LG Wing is also no longer available, and we’ll miss it in this segment. Those who managed to grab one when it was heavily discounted following LG’s decision to leave the smartphone market can enjoy a small slice of history.
Xiaomi’s Mi 11 series continues to make waves, and the Mi 11X is a strong contender on this list, making it one of the most powerful smartphones under Rs. 30,000. Realme recently launched the X7 Max 5G which displaces the X7 Pro 5G. The new model is more powerful but comes in at a lower price, making its predecessor irrelevant even though it’s still an objectively good phone
Samsung’s Galaxy A52 made a big splash with its IP67 rating and funky design. Some of our older recommendations also still remain strong contenders in this space.
It’s an exciting time to be buying a smartphone in this segment as premium features such as an IP rating for dust and water resistance have also started to trickle down. We’ve reviewed many new phones that have launched since our last update but only a few have managed to make the cut. Here’s a quick glance at the best phones you should consider if you have a budget of up to Rs. 30,000.
Best phones under 30,000
Phones under Rs. 30,000 Gadgets 360 rating (out of 10) Price in India (as recommended) Mi 11X 8 Rs. 29,999 Realme X7 Max 5G 8 Rs. 26,999 Samsung Galaxy A52 8 Rs. 26,499 Vivo V20 Pro 8 Rs. 29,990 Realme X3 SuperZoom 9 Rs. 27,999
The Mi 11X is priced starting just under Rs. 30,000, and it’s a very powerful smartphone thanks to the near-flagship-grade Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 SoC. We like the fact that the Mi 11X looks refreshingly plain, with no elaborate flourishes and no over-the-top branding unlike some of its competitors. General and gaming performance is great, and content looks very good on the 120Hz AMOLED display. Small touches such as the fast charging, IP rating, and stereo speakers add to the overall pleasant experience.
Of course, MIUI being MIUI, spam notifications are aplenty. We also noticed that the Mi 11X would get unusually hot when charging, and the camera quality on the whole was rather average, though its telemacro camera is capable of delivering some stunning shots. Ultimately, the Mi 11X is not the best all-rounder but it’s definitely a strong contender especially if you’re after a powerful gaming SoC on a budget.
Realme X7 Max 5G
The new Realme X7 Max 5G replaces the Realme X7 Pro 5G, which itself was the spiritual successor to the Realme X2 Pro. Although it hasn’t been long since the X7 Pro 5G launched, Realme has already brought out a much more powerful model with a few improved features, and that too at a lower starting price. The Realme X7 Max 5G can be considered a “flagship killer” and is great for gaming thanks to its MediaTek Dimensity 1200 SoC, 5G support, stereo speakers, great battery life, and quick charging. It has a decent set of cameras for daytime shooting.
Realme has made the design of the rear more subtle, but the finish doesn’t make you think this is a premium phone. It also has a 3.5mm headphone jack which its predecessor did not. The cameras don’t do too well in low light, and the macro camera is not very useful. If you can look past these shortcomings, you’ll find that the Realme X7 Max 5G offers very good value for the price.
Samsung Galaxy A52
The Samsung Galaxy A52 breaks away from the now-stale design of older A-series models, with something completely different. It looks youthful and, dare we say, fashionable. It also offers excellent features such as an IP67 rating, stereo speakers, and a 90Hz AMOLED display — a combination that’s hard to come by in this segment. We found the overall performance to be solid too, even though it uses a lower-tier Snapdragon 720G SoC.
The Samsung Galaxy A52 ships with the latest One UI skin, based on Android 11. There’s a bit of bloatware to deal with, which we are not big fans of. The cameras, while sold during the day, tended to fall a bit short in low light. Barring these issues, the Galaxy A52 is still a solid offering as you get a good set of features and the Samsung brand to back it.
Vivo V20 Pro
The Vivo V20 Pro continues to be a good choice under Rs. 30,000. With a similar slim and light design as the V20, the Vivo V20 Pro features a more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G SoC which also supports 5G. The AMOLED display is vivid and offers very good brightness and colours. It even supports HDR10 playback.
Battery life is quite impressive and there’s 33W fast charging, so you can fill the 4,000mAh battery very quickly. The 44-megapixel selfie camera has eye autofocus and can even shoot 4K 60fps video. There’s also an ultra-wide front camera for group selfies. The rear cameras don’t disappoint either, except when shooting videos at night, which could be better.
Realme X3 SuperZoom
The Realme X3 SuperZoom is a bit old but it’s still one of the only phones in this segment to offer a periscope-style telephoto camera, which makes it unique. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ SoC is more than capable of handling anything thrown its way. It has a sharp display, a big battery, and a quick fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button.
The Realme X3 SuperZoom can do 5X optical zoom and a total of 60X digital zoom, which is impressive for a phone priced under Rs. 30,000. The rest of the cameras perform well in good light too. Realme has also added a lot of night shooting modes to play with, which is a great value-add for night photography lovers.
Is OnePlus 9R old wine in a new bottle — or something more? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Later (starting at 23:00), we talk about the new OnePlus Watch. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.