From left Nokia 3.2, RealMe C2, Infinix S4
The 10K Premier League of mid range phones

The pitch is bouncy and  mobile phone brands are hitting boundaries with design, specs and performance

May 27 2019: Close your eyes and think of all the things you could do if you had Rs. 10,000 with you right now. On a good day, you can book a roundtrip air ticket between Mumbai and Goa, or you could pick up premium hot wheels themed sneakers from Puma, or you could enroll for 12 months in a neighbourhood gym. If none of these interest you, we have three options for value-for-money smart phones around Rs. 10,000, that you can either gift someone, or keep for yourself. Each one with a different USP, here are our three budget picks of the month:

Nokia 3.2: Pure Android on steroids

Since its re-launch in the HMD avatar, Nokia phones are known for their intricate details, single hand operation and minimalistic design. However, the latest contender -- Nokia 3.2 -- is bigger and mightier. For regular fans of Nokia, this device takes a little time to get used to, because of its large screen and a less shinier back panel. At 6.26 inches, the device is larger than any recent Nokia device you've seen and the 4000 mAh battery ensures 2 days of usage. Nokia claims that it leverages  the Adaptive Battery feature of Android Pie to manage background applications using AI, learning from user behaviour to dynamically understand when to rev up and when to wind down power for specific apps and processes.  The dedicated Google Assistant button helps you invoke the assistant and get your queries addressed in real-time. The 13 MP + 5 MP camera configuration ensures good pictures in any lighting condition. The 3.2 is powered by the Snapdragon 429 chipset and being an Android One device, updates will be pushed on priority and you are OS safeguarded for new Android version releases. If a rugged, big Nokia phone interests you, the 3.2 is a good bargain at Rs. 8990 (2 GB + 16 GB) and Rs. 10,790 (3 GB + 32 GB) .

Infinix S4: 55 MP for Rs. 8999

Consider: a 32 MP AI front camera and a 13 MP + 8 MP + 2 MP triple real camera, totaling to 55 MP worth of cameras for Rs. 8999 (3 GB + 32 GB). The Infinix S4 is the first device in this price segment to offer these camera specs. To make the deal sweeter, the device also comes with a 6.21inch  HD+ drop notch screen, Android Pie out-of-the-box and  a 4000 mAh battery. AI features  include  dynamic resource allocation during gaming while  a quad LED flash to ensure better low-light photography and a special group selfie mode  seem aimed at  chronic camera users. Infinix, with this device ticks all the boxes if you base your smart phone decision based on numbers and specs. Here is a brand that is slowly gaining momentum and it is only a matter of time before it challenges the biggies solely on competitive pricing and impressive specs. 

Realme C2: A budget all-rounder

Not all of us are obsessed about camera specs when we set out on an entry-level smart phone procurement expedition. What we need is an all-rounder that does a bit of everything. Realme has figured out this market pretty well, and its latest contender, the C2, hits the jackpot. Priced at Rs. 5999 (2 GB + 16 GB) and Rs. 7999 (3 GB + 32 GB), the C2 comes with a diamond cut design with 3 layers of pearl shining particles to give you a changing nature feel, an HD+ screen, a 4000 mAh battery powered by the Helio P 22 processor. With a 13 MP + 2 MP dual back camera, and a 5 MP front camera, the device also comes with Corning glass protection. The C2 is a value-for money all-rounder device,  making it an ideal purchase.  VISHNU ANAND