How to pick the right budget smartphone?

Here is a guide to buying a budget smartphone, and the features you should expect in yours

Updated - February 23, 2023 10:05 pm IST

Published - February 23, 2023 03:41 pm IST

How to pick the right budget smartphone?

How to pick the right budget smartphone? | Photo Credit: stevanovicigor

Budget smartphones are one of the gateways to a connected world. They often let first-time smartphone users access a world of applications (apps) that fulfil multiple use cases.

A large proportion of Indians continue to use 2G handsets. According to estimates by Nokia, about 350 million Indians use features just because they do not have the means to buy a more state-of-the-art smartphone. A 2G feature phone could cost anywhere between ₹1,000 and ₹1,500. But a budget smartphone can easily cost an additional ₹5,000 to ₹6,000.

To tap first-time buyers transitioning from 2G technology, companies are building products that could get them the most important features of a smartphone. Recently, Poco launched the C55 and C50, Motorola brought the Motoe13, and similarly, Lava introduced the Yuva 2 Pro. Apart from these, there are other entry-level smartphones in the market.

Which device should you buy, and how different is one from another? Here’s a guide to approaching budget smartphones, based on the features they offer.


Any budget/entry level smartphone features a 6.5 inch HD+ display. Here you get a 60Hz refresh rate with a 1600x720 resolution, and a 20:09 aspect ratio. This is the standard size for users transitioning from a 1.8 inch to 2.4 inch screen size which is sufficient to enjoy content. The visibility may not be that vibrant on these phones under direct light, which is due to fewer pixels. Overall, though, the purpose of being interactive and immersive is fulfilled.


This would not be a key thrust area as entry level phones are meant to do basic computing and are not meant for AI purposes. Most budget phones will have either a MediaTek or Unisoc processor coupled with a starting RAM of 2GB. The best part: these phones will always come with a dedicated microSD card slot to expand memory as users in this segment prefer to store music, images, videos, etc. locally on their devices.


Phone makers generally use two type of OS in budget smartphones. They either pick the Go Edition of Android in the phones with up to 2GB RAM as it becomes lighter and saves data for the end users. If not, then the OEMs will opt for the normal version of Android OS, garnishing it with their own skin to customise the user experience. Only rarely is pure Android used in entry level devices, which come without too many pre-loaded apps and bloatware.


For the beginners, companies use a combination of a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP selfie lens in the entry/budget segment phones. You cannot expect too much, but we do get clear, identifiable images using these two lenses. These phones come with some pre-installed software tuning and filters that enhance the image quality to your liking.


A 5,000mAh non-removable battery is the norm for every smartphone under this category as their owners are the power users listening to songs and browsing content while on the go. Usually, the box ships with a 10W wired charger which is in sync with the battery output. They do take time to charge but that is natural at this price point.

Add ons

In the entry/budget segment, smartphones come with features like a 3.5mm audio jack, which is necessary for this group, as they normally use a wired earphone to listen to music or to chat. We have already mentioned the expandable card slot. FM radio is yet another requirement in this demand group which isn’t common on these devices nowadays.

There are some IP52 rated smartphones as well present in this category. This makes them splash resistant, to an extent.


With the input costs going up, the entry/budget phones have also become costlier. The phones that were sold at around ₹4,999 now retail at above ₹6,999. Transitioning from a feature phone to a smart ecosystem does come at a cost.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.