Gear of the Year 2017 – The best budget smartphones of the year

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Budget smartphones are perhaps the most important devices on the African continent.

While PCs and fixed line connectivity are out of reach of many Africans smartphones and wireless connectivity aren’t.

For this reason, good low cost smartphones are vital for Africans to connect to the internet and the opportunities the platform presents be it for educational purposes, entertainment or gathering information in the form of news.

China takes the crown this year with Xiaomi’s Redmi 4X smartphone. Chinese smartphones are scattered across Africa and while brands like Huawei have become more aspirational recently, it did pave the way with its early Ascend models.

The Redmi 4X has smatterings of a flagship smartphone from 2016. It houses a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera. It has a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. It has support for LTE. And most importantly it has a 4100mAh battery. As a low cost offering one does wonder how Xiaomi managed to get all this tech and keep the price down.

The competition this year was close but Xiaomi has proven yet again that China knows what people want from a budget smartphone.

Over a third of readers chose the Xiaomi Redmi 4X as their favourite budget smartphone.

Second place goes to the Samsung Galaxy J5. While many eagerly await the latest smartphones from the South Korean electronics giant last year’s low-cost offering was nothing sort of great.

The handset houses a 13MP snapper at the front and back and a fingerprint scanner for added security.

Add to this a decent price and you can see why 32.7 percent of our readers favoured the J5 over our third choice – Nokia.

Last year was rather good for entry level smartphones and 14 percent of our readers decided that the first entry from Nokia – the Nokia 3 – was the third best smartphone of the year.

With decent specifications, support for the latest Android operating system (it supports up to Android 8 at time of writing) the Nokia gave entry-level users a great experience for a relatively low startup cost. The camera is decent and LTE support means that you have access to blazing fast wireless broadband providing there is coverage.

Staff Pick

While I have preached the greatness of Xiaomi for years I have to give my vote to Nokia.

The brand really has undergone massive changes since HMD Global has taken over manufacturing of the handsets.

Gone are the attempts at holding on to Symbian or trying to get Windows to run on a smartphone and instead you have a good clean Android experience which sees updates delivered in a timely fashion and performance that is better than a brand who has been absent from the space has any right to be.

As with the high-end smartphones I’m excited to see what the future of the Nokia smartphone brand brings. Forget the foibles of the past, Nokia is a different company these days and you’d be amiss to not at least consider the brand when pondering your next upgrade

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.