The best smartphone under 15000 UAH

By: Bohdan Chub | 01.11.2021, 13:08

We continue the series of materials on the selection of smartphones in different price segments, and the psychological threshold of 15,000 hryvnias is next. This is already the territory of Chinese flagships and a little less high-end models of top brands. And here is what the official retail can offer us.

Smartphone rating:

Optimal choice: realme X2 Pro

The best smartphone under 15000 UAH

After watching how Samsung and Apple release more and more expensive devices, Chinese manufacturers have set a friendly course for the premium segment. But this does not mean the end of affordable flagships - in parallel with the main line of the company promote sub-brands with a more democratic pricing policy. So a few years ago from Oppo branched off realme, since recently the brand's smartphones are officially on sale in our country. The senior model of the line realme X2 Pro for its 12 000 hryvnia offers one of the most powerful processors 2019 and some interesting chips. 6.The 5-inch Super AMOLED display with a teardrop cutout and Full HD+ resolution has a good margin of brightness, and thanks to the refresh rate of 90 Hz, interface animations and scrolling look very smooth. The panel also supports Always on Display and DC Dimming flicker protection feature. The on-screen fingerprint scanner, while not comparable in speed to traditional sensors, is noticeably faster than its counterparts in the mid-level Samsung Galaxy A51.

The heart of the realme X2 Pro has become an octa-core 7-nanometer processor Snapdragon 855 + (an overclocked version of the 855), which easily "digests" any game. Since the system has a balanced performance mode enabled by default, all the most demanding things are better to put in the gaming center immediately. As a result, the chip will be able to unlock its full potential when running PUBG Mobile or Shadowgun Legends, but won't waste unnecessary energy in everyday tasks. The 8GB of RAM will be enough for years to come, but the microSD slot was removed by the manufacturer for nothing. To fill up built-in 128 GB for the same several years is not such an impossible task. Still it is good that a 12/256 GB variant appeared for sale; taking into account the minimum price difference we recommend you to have a closer look at it. The case on both sides is covered by Gorilla Glass 5, the frame is metal. The model is available in two colors: blue and white.

The location of the smartphone's rear camera gives away its common roots with OnePlus. In total, we have four eyes in a row: 64-megapixel module with an aperture of f/1.8, the average quality telephoto at 13 megapixels with two-fold zoom, 8-megapixel "shirik" for shooting panoramas in good light and a 2-megapixel depth sensor (because the triple camera in 2020 sounds somehow unsolid). In automatic mode realme X2 Pro combines four pixels into one and saves 16-megapixel photos, in fact, switch to 64 MP mode only on a bright sunny day. Daytime get decent pictures with good detail, at dusk the picture becomes noisy, and built-night mode is not much help correct the situation (but you can try to install the ported version of Google Camera). 4K video is recorded at up to 60 frames per second, but for a smooth picture with electronic stabilization would have to switch to Full HD mode. Bottom line: the camera is good, but not flagship. There are no complaints to the front 16-megapixel camera.

Even with very active use, the realme X2 Pro runs until late at night; moreover, the SuperVOOC technology allows you to fully charge the 4000 mAh battery in just 35 minutes. How did they manage to do that? There are actually two 2,000 mAh cells inside, and each is powered by 25W. An important point: the magic only works with a proprietary power adapter. If it is not to be found at hand, the model is able to work with Power Delivery and Quick Charge standards. Of the other nice moments - NFC-chip for contactless payment, a 3.5-mm headphone jack and stereo sound (loud main speaker plays along with the conversational speaker). The smartphone has already been updated to Android 10 with the new realme UI shell.

  • 4 reasons not to buy:
  • 2 reasons not to buy:
  • AMOLED-display with 90 Hz
  • top performance
  • very fast charging

stereo sound no memory card slot

camera is weaker than competitors

The best smartphone under 15000 UAH-2

read also: realme X2 Pro review alternative: Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro Poco F2 Pro could claim a place in the top, but the smartphone is almost disappeared from sale (the last copies still remainhere x In Xiaomi's main lineup, meanwhile, an interesting couple has emerged in the form of the Mi 10T and Mi 10T Pro. The older version got a cooler main camera and looks like a better buy, despite being slightly over budget. Especially since 16,000 hryvnia is the starting price with a downward trend. For the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, the company has chosen a 6.67-inch IPS screen with a refresh rate of up to 144Hz. To keep the balance between picture smoothness and running time, the system will dynamically change the frequency depending on the type of application or game running. And while IPS at 144Hz doesn't look as spectacular as AMOLED even at 90Hz, the difference will only be noticeable in a direct comparison. The display is bright, with nice color reproduction and no curves on the sides. In the hole on the left is the front camera. 

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro is built on the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, so there shouldn't be any performance issues. Yes, by default, the smartphone lowers the CPU frequency under load, but for higher FPS in demanding games, just use the acceleration mode (look for in the app "Security"). Versions with 128 and 256 gigabytes of internal memory are on sale, with 8GB of RAM each there and there. What we didn't like was the lack of a memory card slot. If the 8/256 GB variant will go down in price by a couple of thousand, then there will be another conversation, for now we will have to limit ourselves to the basic configuration.

The Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro's camera system has been stripped of the depth sensor, because artificial intelligence can blur the background just as well. Moreover, the 108 MP main module with f/1.69 aperture and optical stabilization itself creates natural bokeh. Compared to the Mi Note lineup, maximum-resolution shots are noticeably faster to save, but still take up a lot of space. It's easier to use the auto mode with the merging of four adjacent pixels. That way you get automatic HDR, and the loss in detail is still negligible. There's a 2x zoom function (regular cropped) and a nice night mode. In general, the photo quality is good, although up to the flagships Samsung and Huawei does not reach. Video recording up to 8K is supported, stabilization works for 4K and Full HD movies. Mi 10T Pro also has a 13 MP wide-angle module, and you can shoot something meaningful with it only in good light. The third 5-megapixel camera is responsible for macro photography and even has autofocus, but Xiaomi would have been better off leaving a full telephoto module. The 20 megapixel selfie camera is decent.

Despite the powerful 5000 mAh battery, the device shows average 5-6 hours of screen time. Apparently, the more energy-consuming IPS-display with a higher refresh rate (in the settings you can switch to 60/90 Hz) has an impact. If the battery charge is low, the quick charger with a capacity of 33 W will help, an appropriate adapter is included. The case is a "sandwich" of Gorilla Glass 5 and a metal frame. On the right end is the power button, in which they built a fingerprint scanner (sub-screen sensors remain exclusive to AMOLED). This arrangement allows you to unlock the smartphone at any position on the table, you can also enable facial recognition with the camera. There's NFC, an IR port for controlling tech and even a microscopic event indicator. But there is no place for the 3.5mm audio jack, in the box put an adapter. I would also like to mention a nice vibration response and stereo sound (conversation + lower speaker).

4 reasons to buy: 2 reasons not to buy:
  • IPS-screen with a frequency of 144 Hz
  • The most powerful processor in the class
  • Good main camera
  • Stereo speakers
  • You can not insert the microSD card
  • sometimes lacks a telephoto camera
  • no audio jack

Smartphone A-brand: Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite

The best smartphone under 15000 UAH-3

In the segment to 15 thousand UAH Samsung offers only simplified versions of its flagships: Galaxy Note 10 Lite for those who have wanted to buy a long time. The smartphone has a 6.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus display with a built-in fingerprint scanner and a hole for the front camera. The screen resolution is lower than the older models: 2400x1080 pixels or Full HD+, although this does not affect the image quality much. The software automatically uses anti-flicker technology DC Dimming (it is not mentioned anywhere in the settings), not without Always On Display. The rear panel glass is replaced with plastic, the device also loses its water resistance and wireless charging support.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite got a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor instead of the proprietary Exynos. For mobile gamers, this is even a plus. The only pity is that the smartphone has only one multimedia speaker, and that without "flagship" sound. By the way, you will not find a 3.5mm headphone jack either, and the new Samsung devices do not work with inexpensive adapters. You have to look for variants with built-in DAC, for example proprietary adapter (not available everywhere) or Apple analogue (limits maximum volume). The model for our market on board has 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal memory, instead of a second SIM card can be inserted a microSD card. 

In terms of shooting quality, Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite is closer to the A-series devices, of the pluses - only optical stabilization of the main 48-megapixel module. In most scenarios, the smartphone takes photos in 12-megapixel mode, and this is quite enough. Daytime shots are good, in low light helps built-in night mode, but with it you can get a blurry frame. In updates developers added the ability to record 4K video at 60 frames per second and the stabilization function at 30 fps (originally it worked only in Full HD). The other two cameras on the back are an ultra-wide 12-megapixel module and a 5-megapixel macro camera. Both are best used in good light. The selfie camera is 32 megapixels.

A 4500 mAh battery with up to 45W fast charging is responsible for battery life. The set of 25-watt adapter, although it looks easier on paper, figures are also decent: the battery gains more than 60% of the capacity in 30 minutes. The phone lasts up to two days without high loads or 24 hours with active use. NFC is in place. Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite has already dropped in price to 14,000 hryvnia, now it is available in black, blue and white colors.

4 reasons to buy: 3 reasons not to buy:
  • quality AMOLED display
  • flagship performance
  • smart cameras
  • good autonomy
  • hybrid slot for microSD/nanoSIM
  • plastic back cover scratches
  • no mini jack

Read also: review of Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite

protected smartphone: CAT S60

The best smartphone under 15000 UAH-4

produced by Caterpillar license smartphone CAT S60 designed for extreme conditions The MIL-SPEC 810G certified device withstands falls from heights up to 1.8m, has improved shock and vibration resistance, and is able to operate in temperatures ranging from -25°C to +55°C. It is immersible to a depth of 5 meters, which even exceeds the requirements of the standard IP68. It can be used to monitor heat leaks during construction projects, locate moisture accumulation, find insulation damage. Other interesting applications of FLIR thermal imaging in the home were described in this review.

CAT S60 is equipped with a very bright 4.7" HD display with Gorilla Glass 4 protection. To keep it from breaking, a plastic bezel runs around the perimeter of the front panel. The 2M/5M mechanical switches further protect the speaker holes, consequently increasing the depth of the allowable immersion. All connectors and the SOS button are protected by plugs. As for the rest of the specifications, everything is quite modest, especially since the model is not new. The Snapdragon 617 processor is already quite outdated, 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal memory are enough only for some basic things. There is a microSD card slot in case of lack of space.

Both the 13 MP rear camera and the 8 MP front-facing module don't grab the stars. Here CAT S60 is inferior even to budget "Chinese", which have already learned how to shoot well in the daytime and acceptable in the evening. Battery at 3800 mAh provides a standard day of battery life, something more can be expected only in a sparing mode of use.

Ukraine CAT S60 for 11 000 UAH - Hurry up and buy it before it finally disappeared from the market.

3 reasons not to buy 3 reasons not to buy
  • maximum protection
  • built-in thermal imager FLIR
  • bright screen stays readable in the sun
  • weak camera
  • no fingerprint scanner
  • outdated hardware

if you want iPhone: Apple iPhone SE (2020)

The best smartphone under 15000 UAH-5

Apple devices with thin frames and Face ID had to be immediately excluded - even not young iPhone XR now costs over 18 thousand at the offices. The good news is that the company decided to release an updated iPhone SE in 2020. The smartphone in a classic design has received modern hardware, which means that the support period will be maximum. The model is equipped with a 4.7-inch Retina display with automatic color temperature adjustment True Tone. From the technology 3D Touch was finally abandoned, the device now gives a tactile response to a finger.

The Apple A13 Bionic six-core processor, like in the iPhone 11, is responsible for performance. Such power in the iPhone SE is even excessive: under load the smartphone does not slow down, but quickly runs down. Be that as it may, in mixed mode it lasts a standard day. The battery capacity of 1821 mAh supports fast charging up to 18W, however, in the box put a modest 5-watt power supply (and after the announcement of the iPhone 12 in the new batch of all smartphones are without charger at all). Wireless charging and NFC to pay for purchases via Apple Pay are also claimed.

The main camera is single. The 12-megapixel module with f/1.8 optics uses an old sensor with small pixels (like in the iPhone 8), the quality was tightened mainly by processing algorithms and Smart HDR function. The iPhone SE does not have a night mode, and although it is possible to get a good picture in low light, the competition in this regard is stronger. But in video recording Apple smartphones traditionally lead the way, supporting 4K-video recording at 60 frames per second with stabilization. The front camera was inherited from the "classic" iPhones: 7 MP, only the portrait mode with blur is new.

The body is protected against dust and water by the IP67 standard. The main speaker on the bottom end works in duet with the conversational speaker to create a stereo effect. The new device can be distinguished from iPhone 8 by the logo on the back which moved down to the center, the colors have also changed: "gray space" was replaced by a deeper black, instead of silver - white, instead of gold - red (PRODUCT) RED. The front panel is all black. By the way, in addition to a physical SIM-card iPhone SE can work with eSIM (already available from lifecell and Trimob).

In Ukraine iPhone SE second-generation was launched on April 8. The 64 GB version costs 15,000 hryvnia. A variant with 128 GB of memory had to add a little, but the price is sixteen and a half thousand.

4 reasons not to buy: 4 reasons not to buy:
  • this iPhone
  • not bad camera
  • wireless charging
  • protection IP67
  • this iPhone
  • outdated design
  • no mini-jack
  • you can afford iPhone XR

answers to popular questions:

What makes a smartphone for 15 thousand UAH different from cheaper?

Such a device already has some features of flagships. The leader of our top Realme X2 Pro is comparable in performance to expensive Samsung Galaxy S20, new Apple iPhone SE is protected from water and supports wireless charging, and Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro got a good camera except for the flagship processor. It only remains to decide what is more important to you.

Will it be suitable for gaming?

Any of the smartphones in the top range can easily cope with popular time-killers. For games with more complex graphics the best choice is Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, as well as Realme X2 Pro. The Korean Samsung Galaxy S10 Liteis not far behind them . As for iPhone SE 2020, the potential of the productive Apple A13 Bionic chipset prevents disclosure of the modest battery, and 4.7-inch screen is small by today's standards.

Which one to choose for shooting video?

This discipline wins iPhone SE 2020 with the ability to record 4K video at 60 frames per second with stabilization. The closest to it is Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite with the same maximum resolution but stabilization at 30 fps. Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro can shoot 8K movies with impressive detail, however, this mode should be used only with a tripod.

To the list of devices ⤴

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