Xiaomi continues to rise up in the global smartphone game, so it’s no surprise that they’re still the number one smartphone brand in one of their biggest markets — India.
As per IDC Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker for the first quarter of the year, Xiaomi retained their top smartphone brand position in the Indian market with a substantial 30.3 percent market share. Known to be popular in online sales, Xiaomi also continued to lead the online smartphone market with a 59.6 percent market share.
The Chinese tech company attributes its success to the popularity of their Redmi Note 5 (also known as Redmi 5 Plus in China) and the best-selling Android phone Redmi 5A. The expanding offline presence is also a key contributor to Xiaomi’s growth in India.
“Xiaomi will strive to deliver on its philosophy towards providing high quality innovative technology at an honest price and bring the best of technology to everyone.” — Manu Jain, Vice President of Xiaomi and Managing Director of Xiaomi India
In celebration of this success, Xiaomi India released a neat video highlighting their dominance in India.
Apple isn’t even trying to sell the new iPhones in India
The phones cost 50 percent more than the global pricing
Apple launched the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR this week and we’re definitely excited to get our hands on them. The phones now make the edge-to-edge display and Face ID from last year’s iPhone X a standard feature. Display and battery size are the only differences between the XS and XS Max, while the XR is a slightly cheaper option that cuts corners for the camera and body.
The iPhone XS takes over the reign from iPhone X, and for the first time, Apple has discontinued the previous year’s iPhone. The iPhone XS costs the same as the X, starting at US$ 999 and the XS Max starts at US$ 1,099. The iPhone XR is quite cheaper, starting at US$ 749.
But while the prices listed above make sense for the American market, Apple has completely lost it in India. The iPhone XS starts at INR 99,900 (US$ 1,385) while the XS Max starts at INR 109,900 (US$ 1,525). The 512GB iPhone XS Max goes up all the way up to INR 144,900 (US$ 2,000). Fortunately, the original iPhone X hasn’t been totally discontinued yet; it will continue to sell until stocks last.
Let’s compare the pricing of the new iPhones with competing Android devices; Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 is priced at INR 67,900 (US$ 940), the Google Pixel 2 starts at INR 61,000 (US$ 845), the LG G7+ ThinQ costs INR 39,900 (US$ 550), and lastly, the OnePlus 6 starts at INR 34,999 (US$ 485).
The difference is huge, and to establish a smoke screen, Apple has cut down prices of the previous-generation iPhones like the 6S, 7, and 8. Even after the rates are slashed, a four-year-old iPhone 6S starts at INR 29,900 (US$ 415). Why would someone want to buy an iPhone when so many alternatives are available?
Apple has been showing off the dual-SIM feature of the new XS and XS Max, but in reality, this addition is definitely not convenient for the end user. Instead of providing an actual dual-SIM tray, Apple is using an eSIM for the other connection. In India, only two carriers, Airtel and Jio, support eSIM, and the process to acquire one is tedious and exceedingly vague.
For years the Cupertino-based company has been saying it’s serious about the Indian market and wants to play a bigger role. Yes, the market is huge and the demand has been on a steady uphill for years. But, one major thing Apple forgets is the market is developing, meaning a majority of the sales happen in the budget and midrange segments.
Why are the iPhone prices in India almost 50 percent higher than their American counterparts? Firstly because India levies 20 percent import duty on mobile phones. In addition, Apple only makes the iPhone SE and 6 in India; all other models are imported from China. Secondly, the Indian rupee has consistently been falling against the US dollar for the last few months.
But even after adjusting the import duty and a weak currency, the price leaves at least a 20 percent premium margin. Keep in mind that while the US$ 999 price in the US already has a premium margin, Apple wants even more from the Indian market. The most plausible reason being the company isn’t able to scale its operations in India, and hence wants to rely on a lower volume of sales that has a higher profit margin.
I could’ve accepted this strategy from a small or medium scale company that is new to the country, but a trillion-dollar behemoth like Apple should be ready to take a hit on the pocket in the beginning. If companies like Xiaomi and OnePlus can rule the game within a few quarters, it’s no rocket science for Apple.
Moto G6 Plus has finally made its way to India
Too late to the game
Motorola unveiled the sixth-generation G-series lineup way back in April. After slogging for months, they finally rolled out the Moto G6 and G6 Play in India. The top-tier Moto G6 Plus was delayed further and has eventually made its way to the country today.
The Moto G6 Plus is priced at INR 22,499 (US$ 310) and shall be available in Deep Indigo and Nimbus exclusively via Amazon.in and Moto Hub Stores.
India is a rapidly changing market; this year has already witnessed multiple smartphone launches on a weekly basis and companies are focused on the region more than ever. Xiaomi has already launched a wide array of phones, while others like ASUS and Realme are proactively working as well. When the market dictates such dynamics, it is surprising to see Motorola being so laid back.
When compared to its two siblings, the G6 Plus has a slightly larger display, more RAM, and a faster processor. It sports a 5.93-inch Full HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 18:9. The fingerprint scanner is located below the display and also supports face unlock.
Powering it is a Snapdragon 630 SoC along with 6GB RAM and 64GB internal storage that is expandable via a microSD card. On the rear sits a dual camera setup consisting of a 12-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor. On the front, it sports an 8-megapixel shooter for selfies along with a soft LED flash.
The camera app supports multiple photography modes ranging from spot color, portrait mode, and selective black and white, to landmark recognition and even Google Lens integration.
The G6 Plus is backed by a 3200mAh battery that supports Motorola’s TurboPower technology via a USB-C port. Android 8.0 Oreo runs of the box along with a few nifty UI add-ons.
Vivo V11 Pro with an in-display fingerprint scanner launched
A repackaged X21 with better design
Vivo was the first company to launch a phone with an in-display fingerprint scanner and is the only brand to sell phones with the feature in India. The midrange segment is very competitive right now thanks to offerings from Xiaomi, ASUS, and Nokia.
To differentiate its products from the rest, Vivo has launched the V11 Pro in India today. While many call it a close sibling of the X21, the V11 Pro packs a lot of new features like a much smaller water-droplet notch and a unique body.
The front now looks very futuristic thanks to thinner chin, higher screen-to-body ratio, and the addition of an infrared sensor for facial recognition. Thanks to the smaller notch, Vivo managed to pack a 6.4-inch FullView display with a 91.27 percent screen-to-body ratio.
The display also houses the fingerprint scanner, and the technology has improved a lot. The sensor is now fourth-generation and slightly faster than the X21’s.
The back has a vertical dual-camera setup — a 12-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor that are capable of shooting pictures with a bokeh effect. The front has a 25-megapixel sensor that produces AI-assisted pictures.
The V11 Pro is powered by a Snapdragon 660 SoC along with 6GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. Backing these internals is a 3400mAh battery that supports dual-engine fast charging. It runs on Android 8.1 Oreo-based Funtouch OS 4.5 that has added features like gesture navigation.
Vivo also launched the V11, which houses the same internals, but misses out an in-display fingerprint scanner. In many other international markets, the V11 Pro is also called simply the V11.
The phone is available for purchase via all major online and offline sellers for INR 25,990 (US$ 360). HDFC Bank is offering an INR 2,000 cashback when purchased using their credit or debit cards.
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