PUBG on a budget

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Here are a few smartphones that can run the most popular FPS on the Play Store without breaking the bank



The weekend’s here—the perfect time to take out your smartphones, invite a few friends online and start playing PUBG. But is that two-year-old metal slab good enough to win you the Chicken Dinner? If not, here are a few smartphones that can run the most popular FPS on the Play Store without breaking the bank.

Rs 20,000

Honor Play:

Price: Rs 19,999

Display: 6.3-inch LCD, 2340×1080, 83% screen to body ratio, 409ppi

Hardware: HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC, 4GB RAM, 64GB ROM, 256GB expandable storage via MicroSD card

Camera (front): 16MP, f/2.0

Camera (rear): 16MP+2MP, f/2.2, EIS

Android version/UI: Android Oreo 8.1, EMUI 8.2



This smartphone has “Play” in its name, so it ought to mean business. Keeping that aside, the smartphone comes with the second best chipset Huawei has to offer, the very same one on its top tier smartphone P20 Pro—Kirin 970. Paired with this is up to 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage which can further be expanded up to 256GB via a MicroSD card. And although it doesn’t have any tricks to keep it cool, it can run PUBG on its best settings without any frame drops or heating tantrums. It also has a fairly premium yet understated design and decent AI-powered cameras.

The only thing we dislike about this phone is its UI, which lacks an app drawer and has childish icons. Slap on a launcher and you’re good to go.



Xiaomi Poco F1:

Price: Rs 19,999

Display: 6.18-inch LCD, 2246×1080, 82% screen to body ratio, 403ppi

Hardware: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, 6GB RAM, 64GB ROM, 256GB expandable storage via MicroSD card

Camera (front): 20MP, f/2.0

Camera (rear):12MP+5MP, f/1.9, EIS

Android version/UI: Android Oreo 8.1, MIUI 10 with Poco Launcher

The flagship killer of 2018 recently received a Rs 1,000 price cut, so the 6GB RAM/64GB internal storage now sells for Rs 19,999, making it the cheapest smartphone to run a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC. There’s not a lot to not like about this phone—it has the fastest processor Qualcomm has to offer, some thermal trickery to keep your smartphone cool during intense gaming sessions, a very good camera and some durable plastic that doesn’t shatter or pick up scratches. And don’t forget this is the very smartphone that finished second in MKBHD’s blindfolded photo test.



It even gets a modded version of the MIUI with an app drawer that allows you colour code your applications.

The only thing we loathe about the phone is its app optimisation, which might get better as it receives the Pie upgrade.

Nokia 7.1:

Price: 19,999

Display: 5.84-inch, 2280×1080, 79.9% screen-to-body, 432ppi

Hardware: Qualcomm Snapdragon 646, 4GB RAM, 64GB ROM, 400GB expandable storage via MicroSD card

Camera (front): 8MP, f/2.0

Camera (rear): 12MP+5MP, ZEISS Optics, EIS

Android version/UI: Android Pie 9.0, stock Android

If you’re the kind of person who prefers a capable yet good looking smartphone, this is the one for you. The Nokia 7.1 is an absolute steal for the kind of display, software and, most importantly, the camera it has to offer— all at just a rupee below Rs 20,000. The new chipset from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 710, is also adequate to play PUBG on high settings.

The rear of the phone sports a 12MP+5MP ZEISS-enhanced package. At the front, it comes with an 8MP camera with f/2.0 aperture.

Other things to like about the smartphone are the 5.84-inch HDR display, ability to notch it up to Android Pie, good looking design and stock Android experience, thanks to the Android One platform it runs (if you’re into that).



Rs 13,000 – Rs 16,000

(We skipped the price point between Rs 16,000 and Rs 19,000 because we are listing smartphones that offer good value and gaming performance. We couldn’t find one in that price range that gives you both since the top contenders recently received a price cut)

Mi A2:

Price: Rs 15,999

Display: 5.9-inch, 2160×1080, 77% screen-to-body, 403ppi

Hardware: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, 6GB RAM, 128GB ROM, no expandable storage

Camera (front): 20MP, f/2.2

Camera (rear): 12MP+20MP, f/1.8 EIS

Android version/UI: Android Oreo 8.1, upgradable to Pie, stock Android

The Mi A2 received quite a bit of flak for skipping crucial features like the Micro USB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. But that doesn’t make the Mi A2 a slacker by any means. It is powered by the best mid-range processor Qualcomm had to offer at the time, the Snapdragon 660 and runs stock Android. It also has one of the best cameras in the segment—12MP + 20MP dual rear camera module and 20MP front-facing camera, both of which are AI-enabled.

But now that Xiaomi recently announced a massive price cut for the Mi A2, there are only a few smartphones providing the same features for the price.

Redmi Note 5 Pro:

Price: Rs 13,999

Display: 5.9-inch, 2160×1080, 77% screen-to-body, 403ppi

Hardware: Qualcomm Snapdragon 636, 6GB RAM, 64GB ROM, expandable up to 256GB

Camera (front): 20MP, f/2.2

Camera (rear): 12MP+5MP, f/2.2 EIS

Android version/UI: Android Oreo 8.1, MIUI 10

Yes, we picked the Note 5 Pro over the Note 6 Pro as there are no noticeable gains in performance between the two. Yes, there are a few changes in the camera, and the overall physical appearance of the smartphone, but they really aren’t going to matter much if you wish to pick one to play PUBG. It is powered by the same Snapdragon 636 chipset that the Note 6 Pro has to offer and it has also received the MIUI update that puts it at par with its successor but at a much lower price.

It comes with dual cameras at the back, which are electronically stabilised, and a lonesome selfie camera which is also perfectly adequate. The Note 5 Pro has a metal back, so it is susceptible to heating up more often than not.

It can handle PUBG at medium graphics at best and stutters a bit on high graphics. But at this price point, this is the best smartphone for bringing home Chicken Dinner.

Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2:

Price: Rs 14,999

Display: 6.3-inch, 2160×1080, 82% screen-to-body, 403ppi

Hardware: Snapdragon 660 SoC, 4GB RAM, 64GB ROM, 512GB expandable storage via MicroSD card

Camera (front): 13MP, f/2.2

Camera (rear): 12MP+5MP, f/2.0

Android version/UI: Android Oreo 8.1, ZenUI

Its predecessor was the most utilitarian phone in this price range, with completely forgettable looks. But Asus decided to glam up the Zenfone Max Pro M2, giving it the glossy back and notched display treatment. But once you get past that, you see the genius of the Max Pro M-series. The Rs 14,999 variant comes with 64GB of internal storage, 4GB of RAM, Snapdragon 660 processor and a humongous 5,000mAh battery which can sustain gaming sessions for quite a while.

While the camera performance can be named as run-of-the-mill, the upgraded chipset and looks mean you get the best of both worlds. The UI is one of the more bearable ones and has some really useful features as well.

You can go for the 6GB variant as well, but do you really want to spend Rs 2,000 more for two extra gigabytes of RAM?

Realme U1

Price: Rs 14,499

Display: 6.3-inch, 2340×1080, 4% screen-to-body, 409ppi

Hardware: MediaTek Helio P70, 4GB RAM, 64GB ROM

Camera (front): 25MP f/2.0

Camera (rear): 13MP+2MP, f/2.2

Android version/UI: Android Oreo 8.1, ColorOS 5.2

The Realme U1 was launched keeping the “youth” in mind. This basically means three things—selfies, gaming and looks. The smartphone boasts a 6.3-inch LCD display with a dewdrop notch, faux metal railing and polycarbonate back with acrylic coating. The back of the phone produces “vertical light pillars”, which may or may not be tasteful to people.

It is powered by MediaTek’s flagship Helio P70 processor paired with 4GB of RAM and up to 64GB internal storage. Don’t expect top-end, mind-blowing stuff from the processor—the highest default graphics setting available on PUBG is medium.

The Realme U1 also has a selfie-centric 25MP front-facing camera with a Sony IMX 526 sensor. The back of the phone sports a 13MP+2MP configuration with f/2.2 aperture.

Both phones are capable of gaming, but don’t expect top-end, mind-blowing stuff—the highest default graphics setting available on PUBG is medium.

Rs 10,000:

Realme 1

Price: Rs 10,490

Display: 6-inch, 2160×1080, 4% screen-to-body, 409ppi

Hardware: MediaTek Helio P60, 4GB RAM, 64GB ROM

Camera (front): 8MP f/2.2

Camera (rear): 13MP+2MP, f/2.2

Android version/UI: Android Oreo 8.1, ColorOS 5.2

Here’s a term street car racing for you—sleeper. A sleeper looks extremely understated on the outside, but can rip a quarter mile race.

The Realme 1 is the smartphone analogue of that. It doesn’t look like a gaming smartphone by any means. It has a flashy, brightly coloured plastic glossy body and it doesn’t even have a display notch to give it a more contemporary design. It will soon be a year old as well. But just try running PUBG on this smartphone, and your mind will be blown away. Yes, it is limited to medium settings, but the Helio P60 is good enough to run it smoothly without any tantrums. And it costs Rs 10,490.

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