Last week we had a look at the best phones under Rs 30,000 one can buy in India currently. It's time to up the budget by Rs 10,000 and look at what better options one can get their hands on under Rs 40,000. There's a good mix of some of the currently affordable flagships and a couple of old warhorses that were priced a lot higher at launch, but have now dropped within this budget and offer good value for money.
OnePlus 6T. Image: tech2/ Anirudh Regidi
Best phones under Rs 40,000 in India
Let's get the obvious out of the way. The first phone that comes to mind in this budget is the latest from OnePlus. The OnePlus 6T ticks most of the boxes for a flagship phone - great design, Snapdragon 845 SoC - the fastest around currently, excellent cameras, ample RAM and storage and a large display with a tiny notch. The phone does miss a headphone jack and a traditional fingerprint scanner. The in-display scanner is fancy but not as good.
The 16 MP + 20 MP dual cameras at the back do a great job in most lighting conditions and have ample tricks up their sleeves. You get features like optical image stabilisation to compensate for your shaky hands and the phone also lets you shoot super slow-mo HD videos at 480 fps and full HD videos at 240 fps. Its 3700 mAh battery lasts well over a day of moderate usage and the bundled Dash charger charges it fully in just about an hour. Simply put, it's a great all-round device in this budget.
OnePlus 6T price in India: Rs 37,999 for 6 GB RAM/128 GB storage
Honor View 20
Honor's new flagship is one unique device. The Honor View 20 sports a stunning design with a 6.4-inch Full HD+ notch-less display and an in-display front camera. Yes, you read that right. At the back, you get the Aurora Nanotexture finish that displays multicoloured V-shaped lines running from the top to the bottom when you hold the phone at an angle. My colleague was mesmerised by the design and almost hypnotised (his words not mine). He did seem dazed by the time he was done with the review though (just my observation).
The Honor View 20. Image: tech2/Omkar Patne
The Honor View 20 is powered by Huawei's fastest Kirin 980 chip and comes bundled with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. The 48 MP camera at the back does a good job in all lighting conditions and the output is at par with OnePlus 6T's. Just like it's more expensive Huawei cousins (P20 Pro and Mate 20), it uses pixel binning, which combines the data from four pixels into one to capture more details. A 4000 mAh battery keeps it powered for over a day under standard usage. If you are looking for a true OnePlus 6T alternative with comparable performance and better design, this is just the phone for you.
Honor View 20 price in India: Rs 37,999 for 6 GB RAM/128 GB storage
If you do not need the processing muscle of a Snapdragon 845 but would prefer more RAM instead and also save a few bucks without compromising on the design, say hello to the Oppo R17. This phone is powered by Qualcomm's upper mid-range SoC, Snapdragon 670. There's 8 GB RAM and 128 GB onboard storage, and you can add another 256 GB using a MicroSD card. The phone looks identical to OnePlus 6T from the front, courtesy of its 6.4-inch Full HD+ display with a drop sized notch and in-display fingerprint scanner. There's also a 25 MP front camera for selfie enthusiasts.
Oppo R17. Image: tech2/ Shomik
The rear has a pleasant gradient of colours. You get a 16 MP + 5 MP rear camera setup that does a good job in well-lit conditions and a decent job in low light thanks to its 'Ultra night mode'. A 3500mAh battery keeps it up for a day and the bundled VOOC charge adapter juices it up fully in quick time.
Oppo R17 price in India: Rs 31,990 for 8 GB RAM/128 GB storage
Google Pixel 2 XL
If you are looking for the best camera phone under Rs 40,000, look no further. The Google Pixel 2 XL may be more than a year old but still has one of the best smartphone cameras around, surpassed only by a couple of devices (including its successor) priced more than 60% higher. This phone can achieve with a single 12 MP rear camera that most phones cannot with two, three or even four cameras that boast of a significantly higher number of megapixels. The camera output is excellent in every lighting condition including low light. And if that wasn't enough, it clicks some of the best portrait shots among its peers.
The Google Pixel 2 XL. Image: tech2
The Google Pixel 2 XL is not just about the camera. Like all Pixel devices, it is among the first to receive the latest version of Android. It is powered by Qualcomm's previous flagship chip Snapdragon 835 which is still more than capable of handling any task. Its QHD+ display is sharper than the phones listed above and the 3520 mAh battery manages to keep the device running for a day.
Google Pixel 2 XL price in India: Rs 39,000 for 4 GB RAM/64 GB storage
Samsung Galaxy S8
For a moment I did consider including the Samsung Galaxy A9 in this list. It does boast of some impressive features like a bigger screen, oodles of RAM and most importantly, quad rear cameras. But quantity is one thing and quality is another. What good are four cameras if the output isn't better than the single one on the Samsung Galaxy S8? So I chose to go with the old warhorse at its new price point. Samsung's previous flagship now sells under the 40K mark and just like the Pixel 2 XL, it can hold its own against the current lot.
Samsung Galaxy S8's design is still among the best around and so is its 12 MP rear camera that delivers in all conditions and can shoot 4K videos at 30 fps and 720p slow-motion videos at 240 fps. For those who like fairly compact phones, this is a great option. It feels good to hold and the sharp 5.8-inch QHD+ infinity display is a thing of beauty. Just like Snapdragon 835, the Exynos 8895 has enough left in the tank for most tasks. 4 GB RAM is a bit on the lower side as per today's standards but the 64 GB internal storage can be expanded further by 256 GB using a MicroSD card.
Samsung Galaxy S8 price in India: Rs 39,990 for 4 GB RAM/64 GB storage
That completes our list of the top phones under Rs 40,000 this month. If you are on a tighter budget, you may want to have a look at our other compilations of phones under Rs 30,000 and those under Rs 20,000. You will be surprised at what you can get today in that budget.