OnePlus 6, Asus ZenFone 5Z, Honor 10 among best affordable flagship phones you can buy in July

lagship phones tend to bring the best of what the industry can offer and are often the envy of our eyes. Who wouldn’t want a phone that brings a premium design language with the best hardware inside, right from a super fast performance to excellent cameras. But flagship phones are also largely out of reach for a lot of people out there thanks to their premium pricing. Not everyone can afford a Rs 90,000 iPhone X or a Rs 60,000 Galaxy S9+. But companies like OnePlus and Asus have proved that you don’t need to empty your pockets to get the best.

OnePlus may have started the whole “flagship killer” trend, but it’s no longer the only player in this game. It hasn’t been too long since the OnePlus 6 entered the picture, but the “flagship killer” is already facing some serious threat from the newly launched Asus ZenFone 5Z. We also have the Honor 10, which cleverly took the spot that was previously held by the OnePlus 5T. And let’s not forget some trusted names like the Mi Mix 2 and Nokia 8 that continue to stay attractive in the sub-Rs 30,000 segment. Let’s take a better look at what you’re getting with these devices.

ONEPLUS 6: RS 34,999
When it comes to affordable flagship phones, it doesn’t get better than the OnePlus 6, although Asus might disagree with that right now. OnePlus’ latest smartphone not only brings high-end specs but also a very premium all-glass design and an AMOLED display that is the biggest on a OnePlus phone yet. The phone starts at Rs 34,999 for the 6GB + 64GB option while the 8GB + 128GB variant comes in at Rs 39,999 and is available in Mirror Black, Midnight Black and Silk White colour options. If you’re willing to wait a while longer, OnePlus also launched a Red colour variant that will go on sale starting July 16.

The OnePlus 6 brings all the top-end hardware in 2018 including a Snapdragon 845 chipset with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The phone sports a 6.28-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with a 2.5D Gorilla Glass 5 on top. It sports a 16MP + 20MP dual camera setup with OIS, EIS and f/1.7 aperture and a 16MP front camera with EIS. It houses a 3,300mAh battery with Dash Charge support and runs Android 8.1 Oreo.

Asus has come into 2018 with a new attitude. The company is making sure people take them seriously and it is doing just that after launching two fantastic phones this year – the ZenFone Max Pro M1 and the ZenFone 5Z. While the former takes its fight to Xiaomi’s budget phones, the latter is no doubt looking to make companies like OnePlus, Honor and Nokia sweat. Asus has launched the ZenFone 5Z flagship at Rs 29,999, making it the cheapest smartphone with a Snapdragon 845 chipset. If that’s not enough, the ZenFone 5Z also packs a premium metal design along with a bezel-less notched display and a solid battery life, as per our review.

The ZenFone brings a tall 6.2-inch FHD+ display with a 19:9 aspect ratio. The base variant comes with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The ZenFone 5Z houses a 3,300mAh battery with fast charging support, supports stereo speakers and High-Res audio, among other things.
The dual camera setup includes a primary 12-megapixel sensor with large 1.4um pixels, f/1.8 aperture, dual-pixel phase detection autofocus, four-axis OIS and EIS. The secondary camera comes with an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor for depth of field shots. Up front, the ZenFone 5Z sports an 8-megapixel sensor and the camera also supports Face Unlock and what Asus calls ZeniMoji, which is a take on Apple’s Animoji feature.

Apart from some powerful hardware, the ZenFone 5Z also highlights a smart AI-based software. The phone runs Android Oreo-based ZenUI and Asus says it has cut down on a lot of bloatware, keeping things cleaner and simpler. Notably, the phone also comes with a lot of AI smarts. The ZenFone 5Z uses AI and machine learning to identify 16 different scenes and objects and adjust the camera settings accordingly to best capture the image. Asus also uses AI when it comes to charging the phones.

HONOR 10: RS 32,999
Honor played its cards right when it launched the Honor 10 in India at Rs 32,999, a price tag that was previously associated with the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T. The Huawei sub-brand was perhaps aware that OnePlus would launch the OnePlus 6 a couple of notches higher. The Honor 10 justifies its price tag by not only bringing a stunning design that includes an all-glass design with an aurora colour scheme on the back and an edge-to-edge 5.84-inch Full-HD+ IPS LCD notched display up front.

Apart from the looks, the Honor 10 also brags about some serious hardware that includes a AI-based Kirin 970 processor coupled with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. The phone holds a 3,400mAh battery and Android 8.1 Oreo-based EMUI 8.1. The Honor 10 also brings some impressive cameras that includes a dual rear camera system that comprises of a one 16-megapixel colour or RGB sensor and another 24-megapixel monochrome sensor, and a 24-megapixel camera up front.

The Honor 10 is arguably more visually appealing than the Asus ZenFone 5Z. The cameras are perhaps at par with what Asus’ flagship offers, although the Honor 10’s selfie camera will be hard to beat. Both the phones rely heavily on AI when it comes to recognising scenes and capturing that ideal photo. In fact, the ZenFone 5Z may have a bit on advantage here thanks to its wide-angle lens. As for the performance, a Snapdragon 845 chipset will be faster compared to the Kirin 970 and the ZenFone 5Z gets an advantage there as well.

MI MIX 2: RS 29,999
Xiaomi can be credited as one of the first brands to get rid of the bezels when it launched the Mi Mix two years ago. The company followed that up with the Mi Mix 2, which sports a similar near bezel-less design that sees almost no bezels on the top and sides keeping it mainly on the chin. The Mi Mix 2S is out and we’re slowly approaching the launch of the Mi Mix 3, so the Mi Mix 2 may look a little dated right now. However, since Xiaomi is yet to bring the Mi Mix 2S to India, we will have to make do with the Mi Mix 2, which brings last year’s Snapdragon 835 chipset.

The 5.99-inch FHD+ 18:9 display of the Mi Mix 2 boasts of a 2160×1080 pixel resolution. We found that the screen was really bright and viewing angles were great as well. Colours here are on spot, although an OLED panel would have added that something more that feels a little missing here. Still, with an 18:9 aspect ratio, the Mi Mix 2 provides a pretty impressive immersive experience that makes it worth buying even today.

The Mi Mix 2 is powered by a 2.45GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor clubbed with Adreno 540 GPU, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage which is non-expandable. Despite being a year-old chip, the Snapdragon 835 is still great and will continue to impress consumers even in 2018. Optics include a 12-megapixel camera on the back with PDAF, 4-axis OIS and a dual-LED (dual-tone) flash and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

NOKIA 8: RS 27,999
HMD Global re-ignited the Nokia brand last year and claimed a huge win with the Nokia 8, which was the company’s flagship phone for 2017. We absolutely loved the Nokia 8 despite the fact that it did not keep with the year’s trend of bezel-less smartphones. The company is yet to launch a true flagship phone this year and we only have the Nokia 8 Sirocco, which is priced significantly higher at Rs 49,999. Until then, the Nokia 8 is still the best Nokia flagship that is now more affordable than ever before and looks as classy and elegant as you would expect from a Nokia phone.

The Nokia 8 features a 5.3-inch Quad HD IPS LCD display that is crisp, vivid and pixel-dense. Despite not sporting an AMOLED panel, the Nokia 8 comes with a terrific display with punchy colours and 700 Nits that makes it visible even under harsh sunlight. It is clearly one of the biggest highlights of the phone. With a stock Android software, HMD has also made sure all its Nokia phones get the latest Android updates in a timely fashion and so the Nokia 8 has received updates all the way to Android 8.1 Oreo and it is likely that the phone could get Android P before it reaches end-of-life.