Choosing a phone in the under Rs. 15,000 price segment is like deciding what to eat in a food court. There’s tons of options to choose from, each offering better value for money than the other and at the same time, you want to make sure you avoid the ones that may look good at first but then make you suffer later.
Out of the sheer volume of phones that have been announced in the past couple of months in this segment and one which is launched few days back, three have really left a lasting impression on us. We are of course talking about the Panasonic Eluga Note, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, and Lenovo Zuk Z1.
To be honest, you can’t go wrong with any of them, but which one is the best? We try to answer that very conundrum.
NOTE: We’ll be calculating points at every step and lastly finalize in the verdict.
Design is something that’s very subjective and differs wildly but after using all three smartphones we’d have to go with the Panasonic Eluga Note. It’s the lightest and the slimmest among the three and much easier to grip and feels premium due to the textured back. Panasonic’s Business Head said in the launch event that Design is the compartment we always focus upon and Panasonic hasn’t compromised on the build. The other two also look good and have metal builds but they aren’t the most ergonomic when compared to the Panasonic.
Winner – Panasonic Eluga Note
(Points – Eluga Note: 1 | Redmi Note 3: 0 | ZUK Z1: 0)
The quality of the display is one of the crucial elements as it’s your only method of interacting with your phone. All three phones have 5.5-inch full-HD displays with scratch protection, which manage to produce sharp visuals. Eluga Note also features low temperature polycrystalline silicon display which make it above in three. However, Xiaomi’s Sunlight Display hardware feature nudges it past the other two. The brightness levels aren’t great on the Z1 although it does feature a polarising coating to compensate for that. The Panasonic also comes first because of having a LTPS display (low temperature polycrystalline silicon display) and higher ppi.
Winner – Panasonic Eluga Note
(Points – Eluga Note: 2 | Redmi Note 3: 0 | ZUK Z1: 0)
All three phones excel in the software department with both Xiaomi and the Lenovo Zuk bringing unique variations of Android, so choosing one depends on the type of user you are. If you want a UI which can be used singly-handed, then the Eluga Note is a best option. With the most current version of Android and just the bare essential apps present, it’s left up to the user to download and customize what apps they want for particular tasks.
On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who wants the customize every single thing on the phone, from the theme to the colour of the notification LED, then you should be looking at Zuk Z1 which runs on Cyanogen OS (v12.1 at the time of this article). Xiaomi’s MIUI 7 also offers plenty of customisation, although probably not as extensive as Cyanogen. The Eluga Note comes with FitHome UI on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. However, it does have one very useful features which the others lack and that’s the ability to lock apps to your fingerprint, so only you have access to them.
Winner – Depends on your taste
(Points – Eluga Note: 3 | Redmi Note 3: 1 | ZUK Z1: 1)
Looking purely at the numbers, the Redmi Note 3 is an easy winner. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 hexa-core SoC delivers stellar performance over the ageing Snapdragon 801 in the Z1 and the MediaTek MT6735 in the Eluga Note. All three phones have 3GB RAM (although you can get the 2GB versions of the Redmi Note 3 for a bit less) and sizable onboard storage. Keep in mind that the Z1 compensates for the lack of a microSD card slot with 64GB of storage. The Redmi Note 3 has a hybrid SIM slot but the official expandable storage support is just 32GB. The Eluga Note on the other hand has a expandable stroage of 32GB.
All three phones will easily handle demanding apps and games because all have capability of storing 64GB max (which include internal and external). Considering the performance of the interface, apps, fingerprint senor and connectivity features, the Redmi Note 3 is the clear winner, followed closely by the Zuk Z1 and Eluga Note.
Winner – Xiaomi Redmi Note 3
(Points – Eluga Note: 3 | Redmi Note 3: 2 | ZUK Z1: 1)
All three phones have size-able batteries which will last you above a day of regular use. Eluga Note comes with 3000 mAh, Redmi Note 3 comes with 4050 mAh with quick charging and Zuk Z1 comes with 4100 mAh battery. However, the Zuk Z1 outlasts the other two by more than an hour in our video loop test. Do keep in the mind that although the Zuk Z1 and Eluga Note doesn’t support fast charging, while Zuk Z1 does ship with a high capacity charger for charging it quickly. It’s just that it won’t charge as fast as the Redmi Note 3 when starting from zero.
Winner – Lenovo Zuk Z1
(Points – Eluga Note: 3 | Redmi Note 3: 2 | ZUK Z1: 2)
The camera is another indispensable component in today’s smartphone and once again, it’s the Zuk Z1 that has the best camera out of the three. Focusing speeds are quick and we managed to get good details in landscapes and macros. Plus, this is the first phone in this price range with optical image stabilisation (OIS) while both other lack OIS. Low-light performance is commendable too, which is something the Eluga Note and Redmi Note 3 struggle with. The camera app (Cyanogen Camera) in Zuk Z1 is also the best among the three as it’s easy to use for novices and offers finer controls for more professional users.
Winner – Lenovo Zuk Z1
(Points – Eluga Note: 3 | Redmi Note 3: 2 | ZUK Z1: 3)
Like we mentioned earlier, all three are very good smartphones in their own right, so choosing one will entirely depend on where your priorities lie. Going by our individual scoring, it’s a tie between the Eluga Note and the Zuk Z1. If you’re looking primarily at a good camera, battery life and overall better smartphone then the Lenovo Zuk Z1 is your best bet. It fares well in the other departments as well but excels in these two particular ones. The Eluga Note trumps the others when it comes to display quality and design, not to mention it is latest launch while other two are now months old.
However, don’t discount the Redmi Note 3 just yet as despite the others having the upper hand in most departments, the Eluga Note is the phone you would most likely end up buying. Why? Simply because the Redmi Note 3 and Zuk Z1 will be nearly impossible to get due to the ridiculous flash sale model. If lady luck is on your side then great, else there’s always Eluga Note is best to buy.