The battle of the under-Rs 15,000 smartphones

Here’s a look at the newest contenders in the under-15K category of smartphones that are taking on the big-ticket flagship models

brunch Updated: Feb 19, 2017 09:42 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Asus,Under 15K,Coolpad
Asus Zenfone 3S Max

The essential ingredients of a true Wild West Shootout are fairly well defined. You obviously need the sun to be going down leaving dramatic red streaks in the sky, a few tough looking outlaw types with square chins and defined jawlines. Add to that beautiful women ready to swoon and faint at the first sound of gun fire and some good shiny gleaming guns. Plus you require a truly ominous soundtrack at the back. Well, I don’t have the skyline, the damsels in distress and the music – what I do have are a some seriously tough outlaw types holding some serious firepower in their hands. All new smartphones under 15,000 in a battle where only one will survive.

New flagship killers

Every few months a new smartphone category emerges that redefines price points and redraws boundaries. For the last one year, the true battle has been in the under 10K range. The new battle now is for the under 15K, where in the last few days, four phones have been released to take on flagship phones costing three times more without compromising on a single feature. Our contenders for this all new 15K crown are the Redmi Note 4, the Honor 6X, the Coolpad Cool 1 and the Asus Zenfone 3S Max. Each fresh out of the holster, gleaming in the sun, with serious firepower to take down the rest. Time to let the bullets fly.

The Honor 6X

Looks, design, material

No one buys an ugly thick phone anymore. Unfortunately, most brands are falling into a rut with the overall looks of a phone. Make it a little slim, make sure one colour is gold, add a metal body and that’s the limit of design. It’s almost impossible to tell phones apart nowadays. Thankfully some of our four contenders didn’t fall into that trap. The Honor 6X with a curved back and some gloss stands out from the rest. The Asus does well too as it packs in serious battery power in a very slim unique design. The other two don’t seem to stand out design wise.


The one feature that no one should compromise on as that’s what you’ll be staring at all day. And most of our four gun slingers seem to understand that. Honor, Redmi, Coolpad – all have Full HD 1080P screens with excellent brightness and colour saturation. The Asus has gone with a 720P screen mainly because it wants to be a battery behemoth and a FHD screen would have killed it. Everyone wins this one except the Asus.

The Coolpad Cool1

Performance and horsepower

Each phone sets benchmarks and takes on expensive flagship level rivals. Honor, Coolpad, Redmi all have 4GB RAM versions and are super snappy, even when you open many apps or play an intensely demanding game. Processors and hardware get full points as each runs smooth and emits very less heat. Asus went with 3GB here and loses out a little. Coolpad didn’t give expandable storage and also loses out. Honor and Redmi take this round easily.


Optics are becoming the differentiator as customers are taking buying decisions based on the camera. And dual cameras are the hot buzzwords. While the jury is still out if a dual camera in the front helps in taking better selfies, dual optics at the back do make you a better photographer. The Honor 6X and the Cool 1 take a lead here. A dual lens system in this price bracket is very rare. Redmi and Asus have also delivered great optics but can’t match the flexibility of a double optic systems.

Redmi Note 4

Battery life

This is where brands are getting their act together and making flagship and expensive phones look wimpy. Both the Cool 1 and the Redmi Note 4 come with over 4000mAh of battery life and the 6X clocks in at 3340mAh. But the Asus is the big daddy here at 5000mAh and juices out the competition.

Final roundup

The Asus Zenfone 3S Max breaks new ground but it seems to be aiming for the battery champion award. It gets that but seems to have cut corners to achieve it. There are compromises down the road to battery greatness and the 3S Max is proof of that.

The Redmi Note 4 was a much awaited phone and delivered on every count. It’s just that nothing shouts out and somehow that’s what we always expect from Redmi phones.

The Coolpad Cool 1 is the surprise package here with exceptional features including a dual camera at a price that rocks the competition. It’s almost the winner here.

But it’s the Honor 6X that takes the crown and wins this duel at dawn. Between its design, looks, dual camera, hardware and small little things that they’ve added over the rest, it’s the one that walks away standing tall!

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

From HT Brunch, February 19

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First Published: Feb 18, 2017 23:37 IST