Should you buy a 5G smartphone in India around 20,000? The answer is no. If you have not heard, Xiaomi announced the new Redmi Note 11T in India a couple of weeks ago. With a 90Hz LCD Display and a Dimensity 810 Chip, dual cameras (50MP Main+ 8MP Ultra wide), 5000 MAH Battery with 33W Fast Charging. This is a pretty underwhelming spec sheet when compared to the superior Redmi Note 10 Pro and you are making severe compromises just for the 5G Tag, which you will not even get to use until probably the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023, also limited to urban cities.
The phone was launched to compete with the Lava Agni and the Realme 8S 5G which are both underwhelming phones with a lot of cuts in specs, again just for a Five G Modem. At the 20,000 price point, it is strongly recommended to purchase a proper 4G smartphone that has carrier aggregation, because those phones do not mess up the other specifications and make cuts just to put a 5G modem and 5G capable chip inside.
Multiple frequency blocks of 4G are combined to give you faster and more stable internet, this is carrier aggregation in a nutshell. It can make a huge difference in speeds, something like 4 or 5Mbps without, to 20-30 Mbps with carrier aggregation.
If a smartphone lacks this, just skip the entire phone because non carrier aggregated 4G is way too slow for 2021 standards. If a smartphone is unable to do this, it does not deserve your money. Until Q2 2022, it seriously makes no sense to buy a budget 5G phone because of these serious compromises in specs. Below 20,000 price we have the Redmi Note 10 Pro (& Max) which are still great, well balanced phones. If you are unable to wait for the launch of the Note 11 series, the Note 10 Pro is still a really solid purchase.
Why budget 5G phones have too many compromises:
We mentioned that Xiaomi launched the Note 11T, right? Against the Note 10 Pro, it loses the premium glass construction, the screen has been downgraded to a 90Hz LCD, has no macro camera which was a really good one on the Note 10 Pro. Only thing is, this one has the Dimensity 810 chipset but the chip does not have good game support as of now and will give you the exact same graphic settings as a 732G.
A common argument we’ve noticed that defends these phones under 20,000 is saying that they perform great because of powerful chipsets. Not exactly true. The IQOO Z5 does perform fine, thanks to the 768G, but it has an outdated design, poor software, LCD Screen, average cameras and shady privacy concerns. Dimensity 810 is a decent chip on the Redmi Note 11T, Lava Agni and Realme 8S 5G but it is not as powerful as the Snapdragon 860 on the Poco X3 Pro or as powerful as the 768G either.
We know Poco (India) has not been great in 2021, with the X2 camera issues and several QC issues with Poco F3 GT, etc and the software is definitely not great. Still, if you are looking for a performance centric phone under 20,000, the X3 Pro beats the Dimensity 810 and the Snapdragon 768G by a landslide. If performance is your single priority, it is still a good option. So, do you still think 5G phones under 20,000 are targeting users who favour performance?
In a relatively niche scenario where someone strongly dislikes the IQOO Z3 and the Poco X3 Pro because of the UI, then maybe these phones with the Dimensity 810 make sense? No, they really do not because we are personally struggling to imagine someone who wants 5G this badly.
It is still quite obvious that the Redmi Note 10 Pro/Max are the best well rounded phones under 20,000 in India. For those claiming MIUI is terrible, personal suggestion to get out of 2017. Back the original point, all the 5G phones under 20,000 have serious compromises in specs. Only one phone, the Realme GT Master Edition, during sales and offers does go to around 20K, and that makes a lot of sense, but usually, we strongly recommend staying away from 5G phones under 20,000. Only one phone, the Realme X7 which was launched months ago was alright but looking at the market right now there are miles better options.
The narrative sort of shifts if you are at to a budget of 15,000 though. The G51 from Moto is one of the first almost no compromise 5G phones though they could have given a 60Hz AMOLED display instead, we cannot complain too much about a 120Hz LCD at this price. The normal Redmi Note 10 is unfortunately out of stock, but the Note 10S is a really good option with AMOLED and stereo speakers.
The Note 10S is also a better phone when compared to the Note 10T 5G which has no ultra wide angle camera and also has a worse screen. Let us not talk about some other extraordinary budget 5G phones like the M32 5G (720P TFT LCD), A22 5G (5MP Ultra wide, TFT Panel, OneUI Core, EMMC Storage for 21K), Realme 8 5G & 8S 5G, LAVA Agni 5G, etc. None of these phones should be bought, full stop.
Talking about the over 20,000 price point, all the good phones like the Moto Edge 20 Fusion, Realme GT Master Edition, Mi 11X, 11 Lite NE 5G etc are all 5G phones anyway and at prices like that, 5G phones are the only phones you should buy, but to sum it up, never buy a 5G phone under 20K that makes cuts in basic stuff like an ultra wide angle lens, good carrier aggregation, software support, noise cancellation microphone, screen quality, etc just for the 5G Tag.
Thanks for reading.