While the budget smartphone segment is getting fiercely competitive, there are some companies that are disrupting the premium flagship market where brands like Samsung and Apple have dominated for years. In recent months, we have witnessed some impressive launches from Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, LeEco and now OnePlus.
Xiaomi launched its 2016 flagship Mi 5 smartphone in February and LeEco recently joined the battle with Le Max 2 in April. OnePlus on Tuesday unveiled its latest flagship OnePlus 3 in India and other countries, challenging other players in the premium smartphone market.
While these companies have strongly disrupted the flagship market and redefined the true meaning of "flagship," which had been misused for years now, we are comparing the OnePlus 3, Mi 5 and Le Max 2 against each other to see which smartphone is truly disruptive in nature.
OnePlus 3 features a full metal uni-body design with anodized aluminium finish that gives the handset a premium look and feel. The rear panel is slightly curved and has a protruding camera module at the back, which is likely to get scratched when placed against rough surface.
LeEco Le Max 2 also offers premium finish with its metallic build, edge-to-edge glass and ultra-slim bezels. The most notable change in the Le Max 2 is the industry-first USB Type-C audio port, which the company claims to deliver loss-less audio.
Xiaomi Mi 5 features a slim unibody design that perfectly blends metal and glass. The handset feels and looks great in hand and compliments the flagship nature of the device.
All the three smartphones in this comparison tend to fully justify the flagship title given to them. Xiaomi Mi 5 sports a 5.15-inch Full HD display with cured 3D glass, low reflectivity and Sunlight and Night Display technology to adjust the screen brightness depending on the surroundings.
LeEco Le Max 2 features a 5.7-inch 2K SuperRetina display with good viewing angles and true-to-life colour representation. In this comparison, the Le Max 2 is the only smartphone to offer a Quad HD resolution, which makes watching videos and photos a visual delight.
Finally, the OnePlus 3 smartphone carries forward the same display as its predecessor. It features a 5.5-inch Full HD display, but uses a more power-efficient Optic AMOLED display for enhanced viewing experience and better protection with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 shield.
If you are the kind of user that spends more time watching movies or playing games on your phone, the Le Max 2 will serve a great purpose, but for regular activities like browsing and messaging, the Mi 5 and OnePlus 3's Full HD display should do the trick.
With great design, display and performance, these budget flagships also make sure the photography experience is top notch. OnePlus 3 sports a 16MP snapper with Sony IMX 298 sensor, f/2.0 aperture, 1.12 µm lens, OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation), EIS, PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus), 4K video recording ability. There is an impressive 8MP camera with Sony IMX179 sensor, 1.4 µm lens and f/2.0 aperture on the front for selfies.
Comparatively, the Le Max 2 comes with a much-improved 21-megapixel shooter at the back with PDAF tech, f/2.0 aperture, OIS, 6P lens, Closed Loop, OIS, Dual HDR and dual-tone LED flash. There is an 8MP camera sensor on the front of the device, which takes well care of selfies.
Finally, the Mi 5 smartphone comes with a 13MP shooter but has an impressive configuration of the lens. It comes with a Sony IMX214 lens combined with six-element lens, f/1.8 aperture, real-time HDR, CMOS sensor, 0.3-second auto-focus feature and can record 4K videos. On the front, there is an 8MP Sony IMX219 sensor with 80-degree wide-angle camera, five-element lens and a large f/1.8 aperture for great low-light selfies.
The competition is very close in this department as every smartphone tends to offer the best of camera specs that can deliver optimum images.
Under the hood
It is equally important to have a great powerhouse to make sure things run smoothly despite such heavy configurations, and these smartphones seem to get it right.
OnePlus 3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, clocking speeds at 2.2GHz, which is backed by a whopping 6GB LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB onboard storage. With this setup, play the most high-intensity games without any lags or crashes.
LeEco Le Max 2 and Xiaomi Mi 5 smartphones are also powered by the same Snapdragon 820 processor. The Le Max 2 comes with 4GB/6GB RAM and 32GB/64GB storage options, which can ensure similar performance like the OnePlus 3. Xiaomi Mi 5 has the lowest RAM capacity of 3GB, but offers a range of storage options to choose from 32GB, 64GB and 128GB.
All smartphones run Google's latest Android Marshmallow OS with different skins on top. Xiaomi Mi 5 has MIUI 7.0, OnePlus 3 runs Oxygen OS and the Le Max 2 has eUI 5.8.
They also have powerful batteries to run the handsets for long durations. OnePlus 3 houses a 3,000mAh battery with new Dash Charge technology, which the company claims to charge zero to 60 percent within 30 minutes and run more than 7 hours on Full HD video playback. Xiaomi Mi 5 also packs a 3,000mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology. Finally, the Le Max 2 has a 3,100mAhbattery with Quick Charge 3.0 and 24W flash charge technology.
All smartphones have dual SIM 4G LTE support, VoLTE and fingerprint scanning feature for biometric authentication. The Le Max 2 and OnePlus 3 have USB Type-C ports and the Mi 5 and OnePlus 3 have NFC file sharing option.
Price and availability
OnePlus 3 is priced at Rs. 27,999 and it is available on Amazon India without invites or flash sales. Xiaomi Mi 5, which is priced at Rs. 24,999, can be bought from Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon.in and the company's own website. Finally, the Le Max 2 will be available on LeMall.com and Flipkart starting June 28 and registrations for the handset start on June 20. It is priced at Rs. 22,999 for the 4GB RAM variant and Rs. 29,000 for the 6GB RAM model.