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Things to look out for when buying a mid-range smartphone in 2021


The mid-range smartphone market is the most crowded segment in India. Phones can go from offering a superior camera setup to great battery life and everything in between if you choose the right device for you. However, the abundant options may often put you in a fix when you’re out looking to buy a new phone for maybe less than Rs 15,000 or Rs 20,000. Phone brands are often guilty of only advertising the perks of the phone and hiding its shortcomings. However, we’ve got you covered.

Here are the most important elements to look for in your next mid-range smartphone.

Get the right screen size

Anything and everything you do on your smartphone will be via an interaction with the screen, making it one of the most critical parts of the device. A good screen can make or break a smartphone, and here’s what you should look forward to.

If you’re buying a phone around the Rs 15,000 mark, your devices will have an LCD display. However, check if you’re getting an FHD+ panel (2220×1080 pixels) instead of an HD+ (1366×768 pixels). A full HD display will offer much crisper text and sharper images and videos, making your display experience significantly better.

If you’re spending above Rs 20,000, maybe around the Rs 25,000 mark, your phone should ideally have an AMOLED display panel, which offers punchier colours than LCD screens and also help you save battery when you use darker themes and wallpapers. AMOLED panels also allow you to make use of features like always-on display if your OEM’s skin supports it.

Other elements to look at are refresh rate, peak brightness and screen build quality. Higher refresh rates are becoming quite popular with newer phones and you can now get a 90Hz or 120Hz display at midrange prices. However, also note that the higher the refresh rate, the faster you drain your battery.

Settle for a phone with the latest Android OS

Your phone should ideally come out of the box with Android 11 if you plan on purchasing it immediately. However, Android 10 is also acceptable. Note that most phones you buy in this segment will only get the next 1-2 Android software updates (Not to be confused with Android security patch updates, which are released monthly/quarterly).

Apart from the Android version, also look at the details of your OEM skin. While phones from brands like Motorola and Nokia will feature stock Android, other brands like Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme or Oppo will have their own skins. A good OEM skin should not feel sluggish and should offer handy features, while not loading the phone with pre-installed junk.

Stay clear of software skins that offer a lot of non-uninstallable apps (also called bloatware) and other apps that send you tonnes of notifications that promote other products and services.

Choose a phone with the right processor

There are quite a few mid-range processors out there and which one of them goes into your next phone will determine a lot of things including speed of day-to-day tasks, camera capabilities, boot-up times and 5G support.

If you’re spending around Rs 15,000, some good processors to look out for include the Snapdragon 600/700 series or the MediaTek G series. Spending around Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000, look for a Snapdragon 700 series or a MediaTek Dimensity series chipset. The Dimensity 700 and 800 series are 5G enabled, and so are the Snapdragon 765G and 750G.

For RAM and storage, settling for a 64GB phone is not an ideal solution for most users in 2021, when app sizes are big and so are media downloads. Look at a minimum of 128GB of storage if you want your device to be a little future-proof as well.

Similarly, app updates in the future and games may also become more resource-heavy. So at least 6GB RAM should be what you’re looking at, and if you’re buying a phone above Rs 20,000 8GB RAM options should also be considered.

Pay attention to image quality

While most mid-range phones will feature a triple-camera or quad-camera setup, it is very important to look at what lenses you are getting and not just the number of lenses. An ideal triple camera or quad camera should have either a 48MP or 64MP main camera sensor, along with at least an 8MP ultrawide lens.

If a macro sensor/ depth sensor is present, they need to be at least 5MP to be usable. Any 2MP lens, irrespective of the purpose, is only a marketing gimmick and offers no real-life usage if you want good pictures.

Beyond this, make sure that you have a good front camera of at least 8MP resolution. If there is a secondary camera on the front as well, make sure it’s an ultrawide lens like on the OnePlus Nord and not a depth sensor like on the Poco X2.

Battery life does matter

Mid-range phones are generally good with battery life and buying a phone in 2021, you should look at a minimum of 4,500mAh-5,000mAh battery on a phone so you don’t run out of juice before the day ends.

Also, fast charging and USB Type-C ports are must-haves for mid-range phones right now. Look at devices that offer at least 18W to 25W fast charging for quicker charge times. Although you could see phones with faster-charging adapters in this price range as well.



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