With 5G expected in India before the end of 2022, smartphone manufacturers nowadays are busy making the market — in the budget segment — more confusing for consumers by launching new models in both 4G and 5G options. This has made it difficult for customers to understand whether they should pick a 5G phone today (future-proofing) or go with a 4G model (given 5G is several months away, if not more, for those not in major cities). This perplexity comes alongside companies selectively offering features such as multiple cameras and high refresh rate screens, even on the same phone.
The likes of Xiaomi, Samsung, Oppo, and Realme have both 4G and 5G phones in their budget segments. However, one common practice has been noticed that while 4G phones have better features, their 5G counterparts are being marketed just for offering support for the next-generation cellular network that is yet to be rolled out in the country.
The Oppo F21 Pro series is a recent example of this disparity. The series has the Oppo F21 Pro 5G with a standard 60Hz display and a 16-megapixel selfie camera, while the vanilla (4G) Oppo F21 Pro offers a 90Hz display and a 32-megapixel selfie camera. On top of that, the price of the 4G model is Rs. 4,000 lower at Rs. 22,999 than its 5G variant that is priced at Rs. 26,999 — this price is for the identical 8GB RAM + 128GB storage configuration.
This gives you a reason to be a little cautious and sceptical, when picking a new budget phone. You have to decide whether you want 5G connectivity at the cost of other important features, which could be more useful over network support that has not yet been rolled out.
We also talk about some of the options that you can look for if you are tight on budget, or don't want to spend more than Rs. 20,000. There are models including the Moto G71 5G and Moto G51 that offer a decent combination of hardware and software at their prices. You can also check out phones such as the iQoo Z3 or the Redmi Note 11 series — if you are fine with a custom skin on top of Android.
During the discussion, we also offer buying tips that you should keep in mind with budget phones, including why the base model isn't the best option even though it's the most affordable.
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