India

Xiaomi launches Redmi Note 5 and Note 5 Pro in India

After the exceptional Redmi Note 4, Xiaomi is all prepped up for 2018!

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Xiaomi has finally launched the much-awaited Redmi Note 5 and Note 5 Pro in India along with its Mi TV range. The Redmi Note 5 is the successor to Xiaomi’s popular Redmi Note 4 smartphone which was launched last year and has propelled Xiaomi to the number one smartphone vendor spot in India ahead of Samsung.

The Redmi Note 5 is just a rebranded Redmi 5 Plus with a 6-inch screen and a Snapdragon 625 chipset. Both the devices sport the same 6-inch panel and incorporate the new industry trending 18:9 resolution display. It has a 12-megapixel rear camera with an f/2.2 aperture and 5-megapixel front camera with an LED flash. Down from the predecessor’s 4100mAh battery, the Redmi Note 5 packs a 4000mAh capacity charged via micro-USB.

The Redmi Note 5 comes in two memory configurations: 3GB RAM with 32GB storage or 4GB RAM with 64GB storage. Both devices have a fingerprint scanner on the back, while the power button and volume rocker sit on the right side.

Xioami Redmi Note 5

The Redmi Note 5 starts at INR 9,999 (US$ 156) for 3GB RAM with 32GB storage while the 4GB RAM with 64GB storage variant costs INR 11,999 (US$ 187).

The higher-end Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, which makes it the first device sporting the chipset in the country. In fact, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is also the first smartphone globally to debut the Snapdragon 636 SoC.

It sports a 12-megapixel primary sensor at the back accompanied by a 5-megapixel secondary sensor, arranged on the upper-left corner like on the iPhone X. The primary sensor has an f/2.2 aperture while the secondary sensor comes with f/2.0. For selfie lovers, the company has bumped the camera sensor to 20 megapixels and comes with a front-facing flash. The front camera uses the Sony IMX376 sensor and is accompanied with Beautify 4.0.

Xioami Redmi Note 5 Pro

The company is going with two variants for the Redmi Note 5 Pro which include 4GB RAM with 64GB storage, and 6GB RAM with 64GB storage. It runs on MIUI 9 based on Android Nougat. It comes with the older micro-USB port but sadly misses out on support for fast charging for its 4000mAh battery.

The Redmi Note 5 Pro starts at INR 13,999 (US$ 218) for 4GB RAM with 64GB storage while the 6GB RAM with 64GB storage variant costs INR 16,999 (US$ 265). Colors options are black, gold, rose gold, and blue.

Both the devices shall be available from February 22 via Flipkart, Mi Home, and Mi.com. They will go on sale soon via all of Xiaomi’s offline retail partners, though an availability date isn’t announced yet.

In addition, Xiaomi has designed a new power adapter which has power surge protection up to 380V built in. This new adapter will come come out of the box with the newly launched devices.

India

Nokia 5.1 Plus launches with dual rear cameras and a notch

A near perfect budget offering

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Following in the footsteps of Xiaomi and Huawei, HMD Global also aims to fill up every price segment with an offering. The company has enjoyed very good brand recognition in India and with its straightforward Android One lineup, picking a Nokia-branded phone is easier than ever.

Last month, HMD Global launched the Nokia 6.1 Plus to take on the Xiaomi Mi A2. Now, the Nokia 5.1 Plus intends to take on the Redmi 6 series along with ASUS’ ZenFone Max Pro, neither of which are a part of the Android One program.

The Nokia 5.1 Plus is priced at INR 10,999 (US$ 151) and will be exclusively available via Flipkart and Nokia’s online store. Pre-orders for Gloss Black and Gloss Midnight Blue start from October 1. Airtel customers can receive INR 1,800 instant cashback and 240GB data over 12 months on plans of INR 199, INR 249, and INR 448.

The phone has a very simple yet solid build along with a glass backing. The front sports a 5.8-inch Full HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 19:9. The notch houses the front camera along with an earpiece and the usual sensor array.

HMD Global has marketed the phone to be a performance-centric offering that can easily zip through every game and app. The phone is powered by a MediaTek P60 SoC along with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. The fingerprint scanner is located below the vertical dual camera setup on the back.

The rear dual camera setup consists of a 13-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. The front has an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor, and the camera app brings in support for AI-assisted portrait and HDR modes.

Powering the phone is a modest 3000mAh battery that charges via the USB-C port. Being part of the Android One initiative, HMD Global has promised that it will be among the first phones to receive the Android Pie update.

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India

Motorola One Power launches with a huge battery

The Mi A2 has some serious competition now

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After launching the Moto G6 series in India, Motorola has now announced the availability of the One Power in the country. Unlike the G6 series, the company isn’t launching the phone months after the global unveiling and is banking on the phone to be a hot sell.

The company has also reiterated that they have long-term goals in the country and are now making the new One Power completely in India, under the Make in India initiative. Motorola has more than 700 Moto Hubs in the country and is expanding their offline reach to more than 30,000 counters or retailers.

The Motorola One Power is priced at INR 15,999 (US$ 220) and will be exclusively available via Flipkart. It will be on sale starting October 5, going up against the Nokia 6.1 Plus and Xiaomi Mi A2.

The phone has a 6.2-inch LCD Full HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 19:9. Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 636 SoC along with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. It supports a microSD card for expanding storage and features a fingerprint scanner on the back.

The back has a dual-camera setup — a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor that are capable of shooting pictures with a bokeh effect. The front has a 12-megapixel sensor that is housed in the notch along with the earpiece and sensor array.

Motorola has closely partnered with Google via the Android One program, hence all its phone will be receiving monthly security updates for the next three years. This will also be among the first devices to receive the Android Pie update and the company is confident it will be pushing it out by the end of October.

The battery is another unique selling point, the One Power has a huge 4850mAh battery that supports Motorola’s TurboPower charging technology. The company says it can deliver six hours of moderate usage on just 15 minutes of charging.

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Features

How Chinese vendors have taken over the Indian market

Market share has been grabbed but can they sustain it?

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A few years back, the most prominent smartphone companies in India included Micromax, Karbonn, Sony, HTC, and obviously, Samsung. It was a healthy mix of a few homegrown companies along with a blend of various manufacturers from diverse backgrounds. Each had its unique selling point and the market was at a nascent stage.

Fast forward to 2018, the dynamics have completely changed. Except for Samsung, all other companies listed above are almost non-existent and the complete business has been taken over by Chinese makers. According to Counterpoint Research’s Q2 2018 report, Xiaomi, Vivo, OPPO, and Honor (Huawei’s sub-brand) have a combined market share of 53 percent.

Domestic companies like Micromax have a very unstable presence in the region now, and all other vendors like Karbonn, Intex, and Spice have packed up. The only brand that has been able to survive this long is Samsung. But, considering the recent two quarters, even Samsung has lost a substantial share to the Chinese.

How did the newcomers manage to take over the market so rapidly, and successfully?

The base strategy is pretty similar to that of Samsung. Back in 2010, when Nokia and BlackBerry had their superiority, Samsung Mobile was a fledgling in the country. Samsung came in and filled the market with next-generation trendy products at a nominal rate. When Nokia and BlackBerry were busy competing with their QWERTY phones, Samsung was selling touchscreen phones like the Corby and Champ.

These phones appealed to the younger audience, and while Apple was busy knocking down everyone in design, Samsung was busy scaling their production. Soon, we saw their brief stint with Windows OS via the Omnia series, followed by entry into the Android ecosystem. Even with Android, Samsung continued releasing phones in every price segment: The Galaxy Star was a top-selling budget phone, the S-series had just taken off, and new devices were being launched almost every month.

In short, they filled the market with options and every type of user was targeted. The gamble paid off massively. Within a few years, the old behemoths were gone and Samsung had established a brand with trust among users. The company focused on grabbing market share via the budget and midrange segment and simultaneously managing the top-tier S and Note series for higher margins.

This is the same strategy that the new Chinese vendors are applying. First, fill the market with trendy phones that are reasonably priced, and then expand their portfolio. A notch and glass backing are the current trends, and everyone quickly jumped on the bandwagon.

From gradients to patterns, there are multiple options available. Want a performance-centric phone? Huawei and Xiaomi brought in high-end processors for just INR 20,000 (US$ 276). Like iPhone’s Face ID? Almost every phone comes with face unlock.

Vivo brought in the in-display fingerprint scanner before everyone else and it’s exactly the kind of innovation the end user wants. While these companies are busy expanding their portfolio, they are also careful to consider long-term goals. Huawei’s Mate and P series have been mind-boggling, and with the P20 Pro, it has managed to establish itself as a premium player.

OPPO, Vivo, and OnePlus belong to the same holding company — BBK Mobile. OnePlus leads the premium segment while OPPO and Vivo act as test beds for new concepts, like the sliding camera. Ultimately, anything earned by either of them goes to the same pocket. Xiaomi has avoided the top-tier segment until now, but with the POCO F1, it still remains unclear how they intend to establish a premium brand.

Apples and oranges

I haven’t considered Apple in this equation because the company has completely different expectations from the market. It doesn’t care about market share as long as it grabs the top one percent audience. Every week we see new launches happening in the country with each new product trying to take on the competitors offerings.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that the Chinese domination in the country will be short-lived but the statistics suggest a different story. Each of them has also confidently invested in growing their presence; this includes the operation of service centers and exclusive stores. In fact, all of them have joined the Make in India initiative to avoid import duty.

We haven’t seen Samsung get aggressive to the competition yet; they are still trying to make it through at their own pace. It will also be interesting to see how HMD Global is able to make a mark with their Nokia branded offerings in the country.

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