Rewind 2023: Best Smartphones of 2023 across budgets in India

Rewind 2023: Best Smartphones of 2023 across budgets in India

Rewind 2023: Best Smartphones of 2023 across budgets in India

We already looked at the best flagship phones of 2023. They are great to dream about and drool over (yes, all of them are splash resistant), but in reality, not many people have a lakh Rupees or more to spare for a smartphone. Today, we look at the best phones of this year across various budgets that most people like us can actually consider buying. We will start around Rs 60,000 and go all the way down to under Rs 25,000. So here are the smartphones that impressed us most this year.
Best Smartphones of 2023

Best phone around Rs 60,000: OnePlus 11 5G
After a lacklustre 2022, OnePlus turned things around in a big way in early 2023 thanks to the OnePlus 11 5G. Packed to the brim with features generally reserved for the Pro variant, the phone remains mighty impressive. This stylish phone is powered by Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, and offers 16 GB RAM and 256 GB UFS 4.0 storage. It has a 10-bit 6.7-inch curved LTPO3 AMOLED display with a resolution of 3216 x 1440 pixels. This HDR10+ and Dolby Vision-compliant screen supports 120Hz variable refresh rate and can get up to 1300 nits bright.

OnePlus 11
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

The rear camera department is loaded, starting with a 50MP primary camera with OIS and Hasselblad’s colour tuning. The support cast is equally impressive with a 48MP ultrawide camera with auto-focus that also doubles up as a macro camera and a 32MP telephoto camera with 2X optical zoom that serves as an excellent portrait camera too. The battery life is good and charging brisk with the bundled 100W charger juicing it up fully in just 25 minutes. The OnePlus 11 5G runs OxygenOS 13 based on Android 13 and one can expect several OS and security updates going forward.

Best phone around Rs 50,000: Nothing Phone (2)
Nothing’s current flagship phone is a significant upgrade on most fronts over their first phone. While it retains its unique design with transparent back and LEDs, the Nothing Phone (2) offers a lot more. The Glyph lights at the back are not just cosmetic but provide a ton of functionality and customisation. The company has equipped the Phone (2) with ample processing muscle courtesy of a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip and 12 GB RAM and you get to choose between 256 GB and 512 GB internal storage.

Nothing phone 2
Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

It has a 6.7-inch Full HD+ 10-bit LTPO OLED display with a peak brightness of 1600 nits, HDR10+ compliance and a variable refresh rate ranging from 1 Hz to 120 Hz. Photography department on the Nothing Phone (2) consists of a 50MP primary camera with OIS and a 50MP ultra-wide with auto-focus. The camera performance is impressive across modes, especially in good light. The phone supports 45W fast charging as well as 15W wireless charging. The Phone (2) runs Android 13 with Nothing OS 2.0, and the company promises 4 years of software updates.

Honourable mention: iQOO 12 5G released at the fag end of this year offers the most powerful processor around (Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3) and a good bunch of cameras starting at Rs 52,999 for its 12 GB RAM/ 256 GB storage variant. The software and UI can use a few tweaks though.

Best phone under Rs 40,000: Google Pixel 7a
The focus on recent events (Pixel 8 series launch) makes it easy to forget about the most affordable Pixel phone that was released earlier this year, but no! The Google Pixel 7a has been a Pixel 7 killer since its launch, and we will tell you why. Like other phones in the Pixel 7 series, it is powered by Google’s previous flagship Tensor G2 SoC which is powerful enough for the segment. It sports a more compact and sharper 6.1-inch Full HD+ OLED display with 90 Hz refresh rate and has an IP67 rated ingress protection.

Google Pixel 7a
Image Credit: Google

You also get the purest version of Android 13 (with more updates to follow) with the Material You design language. All this aligns nicely with what the Pixel 7 offers, but for a lower price. If you thought Google may have watered down the cameras here, you are wrong as the Google Pixel 7a delivers strongly in that department. In fact, you get a higher resolution 64MP primary camera with OIS and a 13MP ultra-wide camera with a broader 120-degrees FOV that do at least as good a job in different lighting and modes as the Pixel 7, making it easily the best camera phone of 2023 under 40K.

Best phone under Rs 30,000: Poco F5 5G
The Poco F5 5G may not have received as much attention as it deserved at launch, but is easily our top pick in this budget for its excellent all-round capabilities. It is powered by a highly competent Qualcomm Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 SoC (performance comparable to the Snapdragon 888+ chip) and you get 8 GB RAM and 256 GB internal storage to go with it. The Poco F5 5G looks attractive, especially its Snowstorm White variant which has a holographic design at the back which radiates different patterns from different angles.

Poco f5
Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

The phone is quite slim measuring just 7.9 mm in thickness and one of the lightest in the segment, weighing close to 180 grams. One standout feature of this device is its vibrant and super impressive 6.67-inch Full HD+ AMOLED screen with support for 12-bit colour, 120 Hz refresh rate, 1000 nits peak brightness and HDR10+ and Dolby Vision compliance. A 64MP primary camera with OIS, an 8MP ultra-wide shooter and a 2MP macro camera handle photography quite well. The Poco F5 5G runs Android 13 with MIUI 14, and is one of the rare phones to offer a 2-year warranty in India.

Best phone under Rs 25,000: Realme 11 Pro 5G
The Realme 11 Pro 5G is a great option in this budget thanks to a nice blend of features and style. It flaunts a 100MP primary camera with OIS that captures some great images across varied lighting. This phone has a 6.7-inch curved Full HD+ Super AMOLED display with 120 Hz refresh rate. It is HDR10+ compliant and can display over a billion colour shades. The curved display adds to the style quotient of this device. Speaking of style, this phone looks and feels great courtesy of its vegan leather back.

Realme
Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

The Realme 11 Pro+ 5G is powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 7050 SoC which is more than decent for the segment. One can get its top variant with 12 GB RAM and 256 GB internal storage in this budget with the 8 GB/ 128 GB variant going under 22K. Thanks to some neat power management, its 5000 mAh battery lasts close to two days of moderate use, and the bundled 100W SuperVOOC charger takes it from empty to full in under half an hour. The 11 Pro 5G runs Android 13 with Realme UI 4.0. Expect more updates going forward.

Pro tip: The Realme Narzo 60 Pro 5G is almost the same phone with different colour options. If you find it cheaper or more attractive, you may opt for that over the 11 Pro.