Buying a new smartphone can be a difficult decision, as there are seemingly endless options that cover the specifications, features, and price spectrum.
The good news is that in India you don’t have to worry about network carrier contracts and locked devices like in the US. This makes it much easier to choose where to buy a phone. On the flip side, since you have to pay the full price for a newer device, where you buy it from could be the difference between paying the MRP (maximum retail price) or enjoying a nice discount.
What are the best places to buy phones from in India? Let’s take a look!
Flipkart was the OG e-commerce website in India, starting back in 2007 as an online bookstore. Various acquisitions and continuous expansion since its humble beginnings have made Flipkart one of the go-to online stores in India for everything like clothes, shoes, books, furniture, electronics, and a whole lot more.
Flipkart also remains one of the leading options if you’re looking to buy a new smartphone online. A lot of the best budget-friendly to flagship devices are available, with a slew of phones that are available online only on Flipkart, like the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL and most Xiaomi smartphones.
There are also a lot of great deals to be found, like no-cost EMI offers on debit and credit cards, flat discounts, exchange offers, cashback offers, buyback deals, and more. Flipkart also hosts their Big Billion Day sale multiple times a year, along with other festival period sales where massive discounts are available.
Flipkart’s most formidable competition in the e-commerce space comes from none other than Amazon.
Amazon entered the Indian market a few years ago and took a while to find its footing. However, the company is now incredibly popular and covers almost all your delivery needs. Amazon India is the other best option when it comes to buying a smartphone online.
There are a lot of excellent Amazon-exclusive devices available, like the OnePlus 6T, Honor View 20, Nokia 8.1 and more. Amazon also has numerous sales throughout the year where you can take advantage of a lot of hefty discounts, debit and credit card EMI offers, exchange deals, and more. As is the case with the Flipkart, it is better for one of these sales to roll around before buying a new phone.
Flipkart vs Amazon India
Choosing between the Amazon and Flipkart is very easy if you know what device you are looking for since quite a few handsets are exclusive to one platform or the other. For example, the Pixel 3 phones are only on Flipkart, while devices like the Huawei P30 Pro are exclusively available on Amazon.
If a phone is available on both e-commerce platforms, like the Samsung Galaxy 10 series, then you can make your choice based on the price or delivery times. I’ve personally had a better time with Amazon’s delivery services which seem to be faster, but that may just be in my area. You also have an advantage if you are an Amazon Prime member or Flipkart First subscriber, with free delivery and early access to deals available.
While most OEMs have their devices for sale on e-commerce sites like Flipkart and Amazon, some also have their own websites and physical stores where you can buy these phones.
If you’re looking to get some hands-on experience with a particular smartphone, a Store Locator search on their websites will show you either their physical stores or authorized retailers in your area that have the device available.
Keep in mind the price point when ordering a phone online or buying a device directly from the OEM. More often than not, these stores will have the MRP listed, and you can usually get a discount and a host of special offers when buying the same device from Flipkart or Amazon. Of course, that experience definitely varies from company to company. For example, a lot of consumers in India prefer to order Xiaomi’s devices directly from mi.com.
If you aren’t sure of what device you want and want to take a look at different options, a great place to do so is at a physical mobile store. Most of these stores will have smartphones from every company so that you can take a look at the various choices first. A lot of budget-friendly smartphones are also “offline exclusives,” which means that your only option to get them will be at one of these stores.
There aren’t any national mobile stores as such, except for maybe Croma Electronics and Reliance Digital. However, every city will have some well-known mobile store chains. For instance, apart from Croma and Reliance Digital, Sangeetha Mobiles and Poorvika Mobiles are popular stores in Bangalore. A lot of these companies also have e-stores that let you pay online. You can then either pick up the device in-store or have it shipped to you.
To better compete with Flipkart and Amazon, most offline stores also have special deals and offers that run throughout the year, particularly during popular festival periods like Diwali and Christmas.
As mentioned, we don’t have network-locked devices and carrier exclusives in India. Buying a smartphone directly from your network carrier is a relatively new idea, and only a couple have devices on offer.
Reliance Jio has a decent portfolio of smartphones on offer, ranging from the budget-friendly to the latest and greatest flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S10 series. Unfortunately, there are no installment plans or the like, and you will still be paying the full price for these devices.
However, one reason to buy a device from Jio is to take advantage of the great offers they have on voice and data plans when you do buy a phone from them. For example, if you buy the Galaxy S10e, S10, or S10 Plus, you can subscribe to a special one-time Rs 5,000 plan that will give 1.4TB of data and unlimited calls and texts for two years.
Airtel has significantly upgraded its available device portfolio over the last couple of years. Everything from the latest iPhones, to the Samsung Galaxy S10 family and various Vivo, Oppo, and Nokia smartphones can now be bought directly from Airtel. You do get to take advantage of 12 or 24-month installment plan, making it much easier to get a new flagship in your hand.
As an example, the 128GB version of the Samsung Galaxy S10 can be yours with a down payment of 9,099 rupees, followed by a monthly payment of Rs 2,999 for 24 months. The monthly plan isn’t just the device EMI cost either. It also includes unlimited calls and text, 100GB of data per month, handset damage protection, a three month Netflix plan, and a year-long Amazon Prime subscription.
There you have it for this roundup of where you can buy phones in India! While that isn’t very complicated, what can be complicated is when to buy one. There are lots of deals and offers, especially around festival periods, and they can be difficult to keep a track off. You will definitely have to do your research first to see which store, whether online or offline, has the best deal on offer and can lead to significant savings. And of course, we here at Android Authority will do our best to let you know when such great deals are available.