India

Indian phone maker Micromax is eyeing a comeback

Can it deliver an indigenous phone?

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Micromax, an India-based smartphone company, is reportedly going to launch three phones in the coming weeks. This will include a budget phone with “premium” features and a “modern look.”

You may have never heard of this brand, but it could play a pivotal role in India’s smartphone market that’s currently led by Xiaomi and dominated by other Chinese brands like OPPO, vivo, and Realme.

The Indian phone maker was prevalent around 2013 for its low-cost Android phones. Along with other brands like Karbonn and Intex, the market was ruled by these companies in the affordable segment. The entry of Motorola’s G-series drastically changed tides, and in the coming years, these brands were nowhere to be found.

While Micromax continues to operate, its foothold is negligible with little presence in the feature phone segment. So, why is this brand such a big deal today?

The anti-China sentiment is at an all-time high and the government is actively asking everyone to reduce dependence on Chinese manufactured goods. Imports worth billions could be subjected to sanctions. Amid this raging protest, smartphone makers are the first ones to face the brunt.

Currently, the majority of the smartphone market is led by Chinese brands. Users are looking for a non-Chinese brand to take the lead. While this could translate into good news for Samsung, Apple, and more, users are now actively seeking “Indian” phones.

India is embroiled in a significant border skirmish with China, and the ongoing crisis shows no sign of deescalating. 20 personnel of the Indian Army attained martyrdom, and the People’s Liberation Army took many hostages. Adding to this, the spread of Coronavirus, whose epicenter is Wuhan, is further adding fuel to the anti-China narrative.

Micromax is viewed as an Indian company that can offer indigenous solutions and reduces the country’s dependence on China. However, it’s worth noting that the brand has a very nasty reputation of rebranding Chinese phones and bringing them to India. It even started a new sub-brand called Yu a few years ago and sold rebranded Coolpad phones in India.

The Indian company could bridge a huge gap, but we’d hold our horses before getting too excited. Incumbents have taken years to mature their products as well as the brand. A feat that cannot be attained within a span of a few weeks.

India

Google to invest US$10 billion in India over 5-7 years

Tech companies are bullish about India

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Benjamin Dada on Unsplash

alAt its annual Google for India event, Google announced it will be investing INR 75,000 crore (US$ 10 billion) within the next five to seven years. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the investment will be via multiple channels. This includes direct investments, partnerships, and infrastructure.

“Investments will focus on four areas important to India’s digitization,” he said emphasizing on infrastructure.

He added that the recent pandemic has shown the need for technology and the adoption of new digital tools. Google will focus on improving internet access and offer more information in regional languages like Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, and more.

Secondly, it will focus on building new products and services that will empower India’s businesses. Leveraging AI in the fields of health, education, and agriculture is a priority.

Google added that its Internet Saathi has already helped more than 30 million women across India. It’s an initiative that strives to spread internet awareness.

The tech giant has also increased its focus on India in the last few years since the market is hugely untapped. One of its most successful launches has been Google Pay. It leverages the country’s UPI (Unified Payments Interface) to transfer money instantaneously to friends, businesses, and even online services.

Pichai lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Digital India stating that India has made huge progress.

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Samsung starts making smartwatches in India

Includes an entire range of 18 smartwatches

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Samsung has launched the Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G Aluminium edition in India. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 has been available in the country for quite some time, but there’s something special about the Aluminium edition.

It’s the first Samsung smartwatch to be built in India. The brand said it has started manufacturing its entire range of 18 smartwatches in India as part of the Make for India program. The company has been making phones in India for years, but wearables were usually imported.

Samsung has a huge production facility in Noida, India. Smartphones are also built for export and the plant can be expanded further depending on demand. Amid the call to avoid foreign goods, Indians are actively looking for options that are made or designed in India.

Coming to the watch, it’s priced at INR 28,490 (US$ 378) and shall be available in Cloud Silver, Aqua Black, and Pink Gold color options.

It sports a 1.4-inch Super AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass DX+ for protection. The smartwatch is IP68 certified and rated to work at a maximum pressure of up to 5ATM. It runs on Tizen OS with 1.5GB RAM and 4GB internal storage.

Once connected to a phone, it can also access the smartphone camera, videos, and use Wireless PowerShare to transfer data quickly.

It has e-SIM connectivity that enables calls, messages, and notifications on-the-go. Lastly, it’s equipped with a heart-rate sensor, ECG sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, and ambient light sensor.

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POCO M2 Pro launches with Snapdragon 720G, quad cameras

A Redmi Note 9 Pro look-alike?

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After becoming an independent brand, POCO has focused on the affordable segment and is gradually expanding. Today, the brand launched the POCO M2 Pro in India and it’s the most affordable phone to sport a Snapdragon 720G chipset.

The phone looks eerily similar to the Redmi Note 9 Pro. In fact, the new phone directly undermines Redmi’s offering. It’s no surprise the two brands are leveraging Xiaomi’s supply chain perfectly.

Coming back to the phone, it has a 6.7-inch Full HD+ display with a punch-hole cut-out and Gorilla Glass 5 protection. Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 720G processor with up to 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. The phone has a P2i coating that enables dust and water resistance.

On the rear is a quad-camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 5-megapixel macro sensor, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. For selfies, a 16-megapixel selfie shooter is located on the front.

It ships with POCO Launcher 2.0 out-of-the-box. Powering the phone is a 5020mAh battery with support for 33W fast charging.

The phone is available in three configurations. The first one with 4GB+64GB costs INR 13,999 (US$ 186), followed by 6GB+64GB at INR 14,999 (US$ 200), and lastly, the 6GB+128GB options goes for INR 16,999 (US$ 226). Color options are called Out of the Blue, Green and Greener, and Two Shades of Black. The phone will be up for purchase via Flipkart from July 14.

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