This year, every major smartphone maker has been in a race to launch as many phones as possible within a short time frame. In developing regions like India, the budget and midrange segments of the market account for the highest volume of sales, and in such a situation, the price becomes a core factor for differentiation.
In the last month, HMD Global has already launched the Nokia 5.1 Plus and 6.1 Plus in the country; now comes the Nokia 3.1 Plus. It is priced at INR 11,499 (US$ 155) for the 3GB memory variant, while the price of the 2GB version hasn’t been announced yet. It will be up for sale starting October 19 via the Nokia online store and offline partners.
The Nokia 3.1 Plus boasts a 6-inch HD display with an aspect ratio of 18:9. The front has a 2.5D curved glass while the body is made of polycarbonate. A fingerprint scanner lies on the back of the phone for quick authentication.
Powering the phone is a MediaTek Helio P22 SoC along with 16GB of internal storage in the base variant. The storage is expandable via a microSD card and supports a hybrid SIM setup. On the rear, it has a 13- and 5-megapixel dual-camera combo while the front has an 8-megapixel selfie shooter.
Even though this is a lower-midrange phone, HMD Global has managed to squeeze in a huge 3500mAh battery that charges via micro-USB and supports fast charging out of the box. Just like every other Nokia-branded phone, it’s part of Google’s Android One initiative, ensuring faster software updates and a pure Android experience.
Vivo V15 Pro is a midrange phone trying to redefine mobile photography
Can it actually replace a DSLR?
Vivo launched a lot of phones last year, each having a unique feature like a pop-up camera or in-display fingerprint scanner. While the industry usually tried to avoid moving parts in a phone, Vivo turned it around into a feature. With the V15 Pro, the brand wants to establish supremacy in the midrange segment by offering flagship innovation at a competitive price.
The phone has been launched in India today and retails for INR 28,990 or roughly US$ 410. It is available via all major retailers and online sellers starting today.
On the front, the V15 Pro has a 6.4-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display. Thanks to the elimination of a notch, it has a 91.6 percent screen-to-body ratio and smaller bezels. The front camera is located in an elevating module that pops up automatically when required.
The rear gets a gradient design and a massive triple camera array. The array includes a 48-megapixel primary lens, 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. The primary sensor can capture an insane amount of detail and to improve performance further, four pixels can be merged into one, creating a 12-megapixel high-quality picture.
The elevating module houses a 32-megapixel selfie camera. Vivo has added a ton of new filters in the camera app and modes like AI Beauty, AI Portrait, and AI Super Night to ensure better output. For authentication, the phone uses a combination of face unlock and an in-display fingerprint scanner.
Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 675 processor coupled with 8GB of memory and 128GB of internal storage. It has a 3700mAh battery which supports Dual Engine fast charging. The V15 Pro also has a dedicated button to summon smart assistants like Google Assistant and Vivo’s Jovi.
Lastly, the phone ships with Android 9 Pie-based Funtouch OS and includes new features like Game Mode 5.0.
Google is under investigation for abusing Android
Dominating the market comes with a price
Google has often been accused of monopolizing the smartphone market with the use of Android. While Android as an operating system is open source and anyone is free to make or use the system however they wish, Google’s push of its apps is a bigger problem.
Android is maintained by the search engine giant and the code is available for everyone’s use. But, Google pushes its range of apps in stock Android like Gmail, Maps, Play Music, YouTube, and more. Many accuse the company of forcing itself upon users and blocking the competition from a fair chance.
India’s Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been reviewing Google’s case for the last six months. The enforcement agency is currently at a preliminary stage and no official release has been made. Google, as well as CCI, have declined to comment.
The European Commission found Google guilty of dominating the market since 2011 and it’s abusing its standard practice of installing Google apps. The investigation led to a US$ 5 billion fine from the antitrust agency.
Google and CCI have met in recent months and the complaint was filled by a “group of individuals.” The agency has a track record of taking years to finish or conclude a case and we never know when a verdict might actually come.
Although, the CCI did impose a US$ 19 million fine on Google for “search bias” and abuse of its dominant position.
Android has a massive 85 percent market share and almost every Android phone ships with Google’s suite of apps. These apps, in return, help the search engine push ads to the user and generate revenue for the company.
Xiaomi has become an undisputed leader by market share
Can Samsung turn the tides this year?
For more than a year, Xiaomi has been leading the Indian smartphone market in terms of market share and there’s no stopping them. The brand has single-handedly managed to oust local brands like Micromax, and even experienced players like Samsung have taken a hit.
According to IDC, in Q4 2018, Xiaomi managed to grab an astounding 28.9 percent of the market, followed by Samsung at 18.7 percent. While Vivo and OPPO have managed to grab a decent 9.7 percent and 7.1 percent respectively, their rate of growth has slowed down considerably.
If we consider the complete year of 2018 against 2017, Vivo has managed to grow just 0.6 percent year-over-year and OPPO actually dipped by 0.3 percent. The report also says that online-focused brands drove the online channel share to an all-time high of 38.4 percent. On the other hand, offline sales registered a meager 6.7 percent growth.
During the last quarter of 2018, Realme managed to grab quite a huge chunk of the market with a share of 7.5 percent. The sub-brand of OPPO was launched just half a year back and has already released a wide array of phones.
The average selling price of phones continued to be in the budget segment at roughly US$ 158 (INR 11,000). More than half of the shipments belong in the US$ 100 to US$ 200 segment, and that’s where brands intend to lead.
In the end, Xiaomi shipped more than 40 million units in 2018, followed by Samsung with almost 32 million. Samsung had been relatively silent last year, but has now changed strategy with the M-series launch. The South Korean giant is focused on taking back the budget and midrange segments by reportedly launching a plethora of phones in the coming months.
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