In terms of the number of phones launched this year, 2020 was as busy as the last year. Despite an initial pause in their launches due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a huge number of smartphones have since been launched in the Indian market, albeit via online events.
The smartphones equipped with several new features and upgraded specs have graced all different segments this year. Name the kind of phone you need, and you have a bewildering array of smartphones to choose from in every category.
Like every year, we analyzed and reviewed several smartphones. And at the fag end of the year, we are ready to award those phones that we found out to be the best in terms of different price brackets, parameters, and categories. So without further ado, let’s dive right into it.
Best Affordable Smartphone Under 10K- Redmi 9 Prime
Xiaomi, after a long time, brought back its Prime-branded phones in the Indian market to cater to the significantly large sub-10K segment since, due to the GST hike, the more popular Redmi Note 9 could no longer fit into it.
The Redmi 9 Prime is, however, one of the best smartphones in its class. Under 10K, it offers a full HD+ screen and a large 5,020mAh battery, giving it a clear edge over the competition. Given the 6.53-inch display size and resolution, the Redmi 9 Prime is a great option for those who binge-watch, play some games, or attend too many video calls. Plus, it has a 13MP led versatile quad-camera setup to satisfy your photography need.
The phone is underpinned by a capable Helio G80 processor paired with 4GB RAM and 64GB or 128GB internal memory. It is the base 64GB variant that we have referred to here. The 128GB variant falls beyond the 10K price mark- in the same ballpark that the Redmi 9 falls into with a comparatively better spec-sheet.
Best Mid-range Smartphone Under 15K- Realme 7
The Realme 6, which ushered in the hole-punch display and a high 90Hz refresh rate for the first time in its segment, has received a successor in the Realme 7 a few months back.
While the Realme 7 keeps the 90Hz refresh rate and the hole-punch display from its predecessor, it also upgrades in terms of other aspects like it gets a bigger 5,000mAh battery charging at the rate of 30W and a new and snappier Helio G95 processor paired to 6GB+64GB and 8GB+128GB storage bundles. The 6GB variant comes under 15K price tag and will suffice for your day to day requirements.
The Realme 7 has the same 64MP quad-rear camera array as Realme 6, but now the 64MP primary sensor is the Sony IMX682 instead of the Samsung GW1, bringing more clarity and detail to images. Among other things, the smartphone has a USB Type-C port along with a 3.5mm audio jack as well as a quick to respond side-mounted fingerprint scanner.
Best Mid-premium Smartphone Under 25K- Realme X3
The Realme X3 is a mid-premium smartphone equipped with Snapdragon 855+ SoC that pairs with 6GB or 8GB RAM and 128GB UFS 3.0 storage. It is swift in performance and lasts longer with a well-optimized 4,200mAh battery aided by 30W fast charging tech.
However, one of the most screaming aspects of the Realme X3 is its whopping 120Hz refresh rate that goes pretty well with a large 6.6-inch full HD+ display. Enchanting you further is a quad-rear camera array that is highlighted by a 64MP primary sensor. What more, it has a dual selfie camera setup at the front.
Other features include a USB Type-C port, side-mounted fingerprint scanner, and Gorilla Glass 5 protection upfront. The phone is made up of glass. However, the phone appears a little chunkier, and design-wise doesn’t make any big statement.
Nonetheless, the Realme X3 performs quite impressively and successfully gives an overall value-for-money experience. The smartphone also has a bigger sibling, the Realme X3 SuperZoom, equipped with 60x zooming ability, but the latter exceeds the 25K price bracket.
Best Affordable Flagship of the Year- Realme X50 Pro
The Realme X50 Pro is another awardee belonging to Realme, which has been on a whirlwind rise in the Indian market since its debut in 2018. Initially started with a budget-oriented focus, the Chinese company has also made it to the affordable flagship segment with the Realme X50 Pro, which launched in the first quarter of this year.
Powered by the Snapdragon 865 SoC, the X50 Pro is a 5G-capable smartphone to make you one of the early users whenever the next-generation connectivity goes live in India. Besides, the smartphone has top-of-the-line features such as a 120Hz refresh rate on a 6.44-inch full HD+ Super AMOLED display and SuperDart 65W superfast charging, which fills the phone to brim in just 35 minutes.
The Realme X50 Pro is also well-bolstered in the camera department with a 64MP quad-camera and a 32MP dual selfie camera setups. That aside, the smartphone is layered with Gorilla Glass 5 both on the back and front for robustness and has stereo speakers for immersive sound. An optical under-display fingerprint scanner efficiently handles the biometrics part.
Despite the Realme X50 Pro has a claim in the flagship genre, it lacks wireless charging and IP rating, maybe to balance its affordability.
Best Flagship of the Year- iPhone 12 Pro
Now moving to the flagship from the affordable flagship, and easily the latest iPhone 12 Pro wins the title hands down because of everything Cupertino giant has packed into its sleek design.
However, the top reason to pick up this phone is its improved camera over its predecessor, the iPhone 11 Pro. With 12MP primary, ultra-wide, and telephoto lenses, along with a LiDAR scanner, the iPhone 12 Pro boasts of a versatile camera setup and one that works better in low light. The Night Mode also works for the front TrueDepth camera.
The phone comes with more 5G bands and is helmed by an A14 Bionic chipset, which trumps all the other Android smartphones in performance.
Not only does the iPhone 12 Pro pride in a gorgeous 6.1-inch OLED screen, but also it is protected by Ceramic Shield, which offers 4x better protection in case of a fall. You get all-day-long battery backup, but mind you, the charging block is not included in the package, though the wireless charging is at least supported.
Best Budget Gaming Smartphone- Realme 7
Mobile gaming is bigger than ever. While some companies are making gaming-specific smartphones, others have been optimizing their regular phones to handle the increasing demand for gaming. The latter category of phones come in handy if the budget is a constraint.
The Realme 7, our pick for the best mid-range smartphone earlier, is also the best budget gaming smartphone as per our review. Powering the phone is a gaming-focused Helio P85 SoC, which alongside 6GB/8GB RAM, delivers a boosted gaming performance.
There are other aspects that the phone also leverages to drag out the best gaming experience for you. For example, the smartphone has a big 6.5-inch bezel-less display for a full view of the games. The full HD+ resolution and 90Hz refresh rate together make gaming content look crisp and appreciably smooth.
Plus, it has a “Game Space” option in the settings to add games, accelerate graphics, and more. You can play CoD Mobile and Asphalt 9 on medium to high settings without lags or too much of a heating issue. A large 5,000mAh battery helped by a 30W fast charger can fill the phone from 5 to 100 percent in under an hour. So, there are no worries if the battery dies out during the gaming session. Gaming aside, Realme 7 also features a 64MP quad-rear-camera set up to cater to your photography need.
Best Gaming Smartphone- ASUS ROG Phone 3
The Asus ROG Phone 3 is a dedicated smartphone for gaming with much power to handle hard-core gaming and several design tweaks to give it a rugged look to appeal to the users.
The smartphone is driven by a souped-up Snapdragon 855+ SoC, paired with up to 12GB RAM and 256GB storage. In ties with Adreno 650 GPU, the processor brings a blazing gaming performance to the table. Then there is an X mode in Armory Crate app that allows you to change processor clocking speed alongside activating the RGB lighting effects and also tweaking the Air Triggers. Besides the multilayer cooling system, the Air Active Coolers accessory further helps the phone cool down if the games are played in high settings.
A dazzling 6.59-inch full HD+ Super AMOLED screen, which is HDR10 certified and equipped with 120Hz refresh rate, exhibits games most clearly and lucidly. 270Hz touch sampling rate and 25ms touch latency further improves the reaction time during gaming.
Backing everything is a humongous 6,000mAh battery that holds ample charge for frequent gaming sessions. Also, aided by 30W fast charging, it juices up quickly in case of emergencies.
Most of the gaming phones to preserve their gaming-exclusive identity pay little attention to cameras. However, that is not the case with the ROG Phone 3 as it enhances its all-round ability by tacking on an impressive 64MP triple-rear-camera setup and a 24MP selfie shooter.
Best Affordable Camera Smartphone- Vivo V20
Smartphone photography has increased leaps and bounds these days thanks to the smartphone manufacturers’ keenness on improving the camera on their phones to stand out. The award for the best camera phone goes to the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max. However, in the affordable camera phone category, the Vivo V20 wins the laurels.
The Vivo V20 is well-equipped in terms of camera both on the back and front. The rear is laced with a triple camera array including a 64MP primary sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide-angle sensor, and a 2MP monochrome sensor. Upfront, a water-drop notch incorporates a whopping 44MP selfie camera.
The images come out impressive with ample details and color accuracy. The low light photography is excellent as well, with not many details lost. The noises seem minimal when the Super Night Mode kicks in. The selfie camera images will surprise you more. They have terrific clarity and details. The Eye Autofocus feature that we otherwise find in DSLRs and other mirrorless cameras is also present to wow the users, especially the Vloggers.
Besides the camera prowess, the phone also packs a punch when it comes to other aspects. It is powered by mid-tier Snapdragon 720G SoC and features 8GB RAM and up to 256GB internal storage. There are an in-display fingerprint scanner and a 4,000mAh battery with 33W fast charging support. The Super AMOLED full HD+ display spans 6.44 inches diagonally. Above all, the Vivo V20 is quite a looker with a bezel-less design and just 7.4mm of a thin profile.
Best Camera Smartphone Flagship- iPhone 12 Pro Max
Unarguably, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max is our pick for the best camera smartphone flagship award. Like the iPhone 12 Pro, it also features three 12MP rear cameras such as standard wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto sensors, which tie in with Apple’s robust image processing to churn out stunning images, even in poor lighting conditions.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max gets the advantage due to a larger primary camera, capable of gathering more light for better image quality. It also has a 2.5x telephoto lens compared to the 2x telephoto lens on the iPhone 12 Pro. Moreover, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has an improved sensor-shift image stabilization to keep the footage sharp and steady. You can shoot colorful videos in Dolby Vision as well. If you really care about the camera quality regardless of the budget, then the iPhone 12 Pro Max is just for you.
Nevertheless, the camera is not the only forte of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It runs on the most powerful A14 Bionic chip and features the best long-lasting battery ever on an iPhone, capable of seeing you through a full day on a single full charge. You also get a bigger and better resolution OLED display for an immersive multi-media experience.
Best Selfie Smartphone of the Year- Vivo V20 Pro
Vivo has a track record of equipping its phones with good cameras. And no wonder, after the Vivo V20 winning best affordable camera smartphone, its bumped-up version, the Vivo V20 Pro, has also been able to impress us and take home the best selfie smartphone of the year award.
The Vivo V20 Pro, unlike the Vivo V20, is armed with a dual-selfie camera setup where a 44MP primary sensor pairs with an 8MP ultra-wide sensor meant for fitting in more background and people. The selfie images look realistic with natural skin tone, less over-sharpened facial features, and an immaculate subject and background separation if the selfies are taken in portrait mode. The focus is almost always right, thanks to Vivo’s Eye autofocus system. The Night Mode also works remarkably well.
A 64MP led rear camera setup is the same as Vivo V20. If you love to post images or videos on Facebook or Instagram, the Vivo V20 Pro is the best one you can get right now.
The smartphone also comes with a unique design, adequate horsepower with Snapdragon 765G SoC under the hood, and 5G capability. The size of the display and its characteristics are the same as Vivo V20. A thin profile makes the phone quite an attention magnet; however, to maintain it, the Vivo V20 Pro sacrifices a bigger battery, a headphone jack, and stereo speakers.
Best Battery Smartphone- Samsung Galaxy M51
The big battery phones with at least 5,000mAh are fast becoming the norm, even in the affordable segment. This year we have already seen several devices that came with a 6,000mAh battery onboard. However, there is one phone, the Galaxy M51, which has breached the mark to go up to 7,000mAh.
Although the phone takes about 2 hours to charge fully (via an out-of-the-box 25W fast charger), you’ll still go at least 24 hours between charges. It is an absolute treat for those who remain on the go, binge watch Netflix, or play games more often. Granting, the monster battery results in increasing the overall size of the phone.
Apart from the massive battery, the phone has a snappy Snapdragon 730G SoC and a rear triple-camera array highlighted by a 64MP primary sensor alongside a 32MP selfie shooter up front. The Super AMOLED display is 6.7 inches in size and boasts full HD+ resolution. But the most reassuring is the fact that the device doesn’t cost much.