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The new mid range smartphone battle

A look at three great phones we can buy for 12K, and a little over, right now

brunch Updated: Dec 24, 2017 10:23 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Xiaomi’s Mi A1 uses its dual camera really well, giving accurate pictures even in low light
Xiaomi’s Mi A1 uses its dual camera really well, giving accurate pictures even in low light

It’s the one single question doing the rounds in the tech world. In the all new battle of mid range phones, which device reigns supreme? Why has this battle become so important? Well, it’s the hottest category currently, more phones are selling in this range than ever before and it’s also become a war for prestige and reputation. The contenders are the Xiaomi Mi A1, the Motorola G5S Plus and the Honor 7X

Honor 7X got a global launch in London and immediately became a talking point. A full metal body, great specs, dual camera, bokeh effect on portrait mode and a full view edge-to-edge display at Rs 12,999. That pretty much set things going. Xiaomi dropped the price of its Mi A1 by Rs 2000 and Moto G5S Plus got all kinds of special offers. Each company declared its phone as the absolute and undisputed winner. Time to get rid of all the hype and buzz and do a true shootout. Each phone is a testament to the fact that for 12K or so the world of technology can put out devices that are this perfect. On to the shootout.

Looks

Honor 7X is a winner in terms of design, storage and price

It’s pretty much an on par battle. All three have full-metal bodies and a build of top notch material quality. The Moto gains a point for being built like a tank but loses a few for being thick. The Mi is excellent in design and style but seems inspired by another fruit. The Honor is nice, slim, very sleek and futuristic looking due to its front edge-to-edge screen.

Winner: Honor 7X is the most current in design aesthetics, followed by Mi

Screen

This should be a no-brainer as the 7X is the only one with a proper 18:9 edge-to-edge screen – a great screen with good contrast and little fade in the sun. It fits in a 5.9 inch screen while the other two are 5.5. But it’s not an easy win here. The GS5 Plus screen may not be edge-to-edge but is excellent with great saturation and contrast. The Mi A1 is a disappointment as it is washed out and lacks real depth.

Winner: The Honor 7X but the Moto is right next to it

Camera

This is the true dual camera battle and one that I enjoyed testing the most. I threw things at these three cameras that I usually reserve for very high-end phones. Here are the results. The Mi has fantastic optics and uses its dual camera really well. Pictures were accurate and it did a great job in low light. Moto gave spectacular results from the back camera but faltered somewhat with the front. 7X did a great job with the back camera and was the only one capable of pulling the bokeh portrait mode with the front.

Winner: Easily the Mi immediately followed by the Honor

Everything else that matters

The Moto G5S Plus doesn’t offer great battery life

The internal hardware and processor don’t leave much on the table. Each is a powerhouse and performed well above its pay grade. All have a slot to add a MicroSd card upto 128GB with the Honor taking that to 256GB. All three have a 3.5mm headphone jack, a premium feature today. Battery life is highest on the Honor and lowest on the Moto. Both the Mi and the Moto have stock android while the Honor has its own layer on top. In effect, there really isn’t a definitive winner here.

The final winner

This has been one of the toughest shootouts I’ve ever done. All three are very superior phones with very few negatives. The Moto gets left behind due to its slightly chunky body, a not-so-great camera and a higher price. Thus its between the Mi and Honor. Finally, my winner was the Honor 7X mainly due to its very punchy edge-to-edge screen, its design, the extra add-on storage, how it uses its dual and front camera, and lower price.

The more sobering yet exciting thought as I close the column is a quick look into the future. If these are the phones we can buy for 12K, then these are the kinds of phones you’ll buy for 5K in a year’s time. Now imagine what 12K will buy you at that time!

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, December 24, 2017

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