Buying a smartphone can be a pain considering how many different options there are these days. So we decided to simplify things a bit by picking the best offering in each price band. This includes everything from entry-level devices for newbies to midrangers for the college gang to high-end superphones for the power users. Let’s get started.

Under Rs 5,000
This is the category which most first-time smartphone buyers look at and it’s seeing some intense competition because of the availability of low-cost chipsets. Android rules the roost, but Nokia’s Asha 501 is also a contender in this category. Let’s see which is the best buy here.

Lava's budget offering is pretty good in terms of connectivity

Lava's budget offering is pretty good in terms of connectivity

Our pick: Lava 3G 402
Even though it was launched for a little over Rs 5,000, the Lava 3G 402 is available for less than that now and as such makes the cut. For the price, one gets a 3G dual-SIM phone. What’s more, this one runs Android 4.2 out of the box, so you are getting a near-latest version of the OS. The only downside we can think of is the battery, which at 1500 mAh might give first-time smartphone users a bit of a headache. The 3-megapixel camera and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing shooter are a bonus.

Rs 5,000 – Rs 10,000
This category sees some of the most intense competition and the primary audience are adolescents looking for a cool college phone or users upgrading from a lower-specced smartphone.

The 520 is a hot-selling WP8 phone

The 520 is a hot-selling WP8 phone

Our pick: Nokia Lumia 520
The Lumia 520 stands out in a sea of low-cost Android thanks to its solid build, promise of Windows Phone 8 and Nokia’s renowned after-sales service. It’s not the best specced phone in the market, but the fact that it’s the fastest selling Windows Phone means millions are satisfied with the device. What’s more with Windows Phone getting a few more high-profile apps, the Lumia 520 is looking better and better. See our review of the phone here.

Rs 10,000 – Rs 18,000
We are starting to see quad-core smartphones in this category with great regularity, so we would be remiss to not count them in our list. But which one of these low-cost powerhorses is the best? That’s a tough ask considering some big-name manufacturers are also breaking into this territory.

Mammoth battery life on the P780

Mammoth battery life on the P780

Our pick: Lenovo P780
Lenovo beats the competition hollow with the P780. Why this phone? Let’s consider its specs. It has a MediaTek MT6589 quad-core processor, a large 5-inch 720p display and a decent-sounding 8-megapixel primary shooter. It’s not half bad looking either, with a business like metallic back and gentle curves on the edges. But by far the biggest USP of the phone is the 4000 mAh battery, which puts it in a league of its own. Thanks to this, the P780 is a slightly fat, a trade-off we will gladly make for the battery pack. This one is for the road warriors.

Rs 18,000 to Rs 25,000
We are in serious territory now and here we can get last-year’s flagships at a bargain, but there’s one phone that easily stands out in this crowd. So we won’t waste much of your time.

Great value for money

Great value for money

Our pick: Nexus 4
LG and Google’s stock Android flagship (it’s still the flagship considering Nexus 5 hasn’t even been confirmed yet)is a great buy even today. It’s guaranteed to get the next version of Android as soon it rolls out. And even in terms of specs, it’s a great proposition – not many phones in this segment can compete with the Snapdragon S4 Pro inside the Nexus 4 and the 720p display is still very good in these 1080p days. And if you are tired of generic plastic-bodied phones, then the Nexus 4 with its glass back and soft-rubber-like edges is a welcome change.

Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000
Once again, a lot of phones which launched for much higher are now available in this bracket. But we didn’t want to pick a phone that’s got a price cut to boost sales. Instead we went with one that has remained more or less at the same price since it was launched.

A solid performer

A solid performer

Our pick: Sony Xperia ZR
The Xperia ZR is a hugely popular option in this category and with good reason. It has the Xperia Z-like waterproof and dustproof certification and a grippy back that’s like the Xperia ZL. And at 4.6 inches, it’s not the biggest phone in the world, so it’s very pocketable. The 720p display, the S4 Pro quad-core processor, the 13-megapixel camera and Android Jelly Bean software are all to the ZR’s credit. It’s a solid buy in this price range.

Rs 30,000 – Rs 35,000
This is where things get really serious. If you are going to splurge this much on a phone, make sure it’s highly future-proof and comes with the best the tech world has to offer.

Our pick: LG Optimus G Pro
Honestly, this was a toss-up between the Note 2 and the G Pro. The G Pro is the clear winner thanks to the more recent chipset, the higher resolution display (1080p vs 720p) and a stunning screen that has some of the best viewing angles and colour reproduction seen in a phone. It also has a bunch of software features that can compete with Samsung’s offerings. You can check out our full review of the G Pro here.

Rs 35,000 – Rs 40,000
Needless to say, you are unlikely to find anything but the highest-end phones in this range. We are talking 2013 flagships, the ones that get the most attention in terms of marketing and press.

An easy recommendation for its price range

An easy recommendation for its price range

Our pick: Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung’s current flagship is a damned hard phone to beat. As we saw in our review, it has everything going for it and if you like Samsung’s TouchWiz features, then there’s hardly anything to complain about. The plastic build, you say? Well that allows you to swap out an empty battery for a full one and also lets you increase storage. Whichever way you look at it, the S4 is a great buy. Here’s our review of the phone.

Rs 40,000 – Rs 45,000
Lately, a lot of the phones are launching in this range, which means if you are in the market for a brand new flagship, then you will have to shell out big bucks. Naturally, in this rare climate, options are few, so making the right pick is crucial.

Our pick: LG G2
Based on our time with the G2, we can wholeheartedly recommend it over the Xperia Z1 and the Xperia Z Ultra, which is also in this range. The plastic build notwithstanding the G2 brings a lot of new elements to the table. Not the least of which is the button placement on the back, but the stand-out new feature is the 5.2-inch panel, that’s easily the best kind we have seen on a phone this year. The Snapdragon 800 SoC and OIS-boasting 13-megapixel camera are great too. See our review of the phone here.

Above Rs 45,000
You are now in business class, son, where the stewards are spiffier and the service top-notch. So which phone should you carry?

Still the champ

Still the champ

Our pick: Apple iPhone 5
With the new iPhones not coming till November 1 and their prices unknown, the iPhone 5 is still top of the tree as far as high-end phones are concerned. The unmatched build quality, the promise of timely software updates and the highly optimised user experience mean the iPhone 5 is a tough cookie to beat. It’s our pick for the most high-end smartphone.

Think we got something wrong? Let us know in the comments.

Cover image: Shutterstock

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