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Will Xiaomi Mi4i help the co win back goodwill, sales? Price 14k?

When Xiaomi Mi4 was launched in India three months ago, fans were extremely disappointed on two counts – lack of 4G and the high price of 19,990.

Not surprisingly, the Mi4 sold a fraction of the numbers that its predecessor, the Mi3, sold in India.

Now, listening to all the feedback, Xiaomi seems to have figured out that the Indian market is extremely price sensitive, perhaps even more than its biggest market, China.

On the other hand, Xiaomi could hardly afford to sell all its phones below cost in India either. The Mi3, which sold in lakhs, had already burnt a hole in Xiaomi’s pockets. But that could still be seen as marketing expense as the buzz and recognition that the Chinese newcomer got in India was worth a few tens of crores of rupees.

And unlike advertising, the goodwill generated by Mi3 will last in its fans’ minds, and pockets, for months and years.

MI-4

That, however, still doesn’t answer the question of how the handset-maker is going to sell in India. And when it priced the Mi4 at full price – including a small margin for itself – the result was disappointing, to say the least.

So, Xiaomi seems to have learnt a lesson, and come up with the new Mi4i aka Ferrari – a lower priced, but still decent phone specially tailored for India.

The big plus about the Mi4i will be its price. The phone, according to industry insiders we spoke to, is likely to be priced at the same level as the Mi3 – or about Rs 13,990, and it will also come with LTE.

Other specifications of the Ferrari include 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage, Snapdragon 610 chipset with 64-bit support, Android Lolipop and a full-HD 4.9-inch display.

In many ways, this is the phone that Xiaomi should have launched as a successor to the Mi3.

But the crucial question is – will the Mi4i enjoy the same success as the Mi3?

UPDATE: Samsung will also launch its 5.5-inch, 4G enabled Galaxy J7 by around the same time.

To answer is tough, as it will really depend on how well the phone is put together.

A large part of Mi3’s success in India, besides the price, was its stylish looks. Though it may look old-fashioned now that we’ve all got used to the Mi4, the Mi3 at the time was a really, really good looking phone in the sub-20,000 category.

It was all-metal, and had a great screen that users just couldn’t stop praising. Whoever saw the phone wanted one.

In other words, it was more than just price, and credit must go to Xiaomi — they really put together a great phone.

So, Ferrari’s fate will also depend on its build quality and style. Why? Because in this case, Xiaomi’s competition is with Lenovo, which recently launched its A7000.

The Lenovo A7000, priced at just Rs 8,990, would have easily been the better phone except for the fact that it comes with a 720p display.

Still, the Lenovo model, as well as the comparable Yu Yureka, both offer tremendous value for money that Mi4i will struggle to match.

The only weakpoint in the armor of these phones is the 720p display. Due to the low-resolution screen, the Lenovo A7000 will never appeal to the ‘mid-range’ buyer — someone who is on the lookout for an ideal balance between price and specifications. The display is a very crucial factor in determining the overall user experience of a phone.

As such, the Mi4i, unless it looks cheap and plasticky, will attract the mid-range buyers. And if it clicks, it will hit OnePlus One sales really hard.

With the right looks, the Xiaomi Ferrari is tremendous value for money and can see brisk sales too. The OnePlus One still sees strong sales in India – above 10,000 units a week, according to sources. A more stylish phone with LTE and a similar full-HD display will sell 30,000 units week for the first two months, they estimate.

The only major difference between the new Xiaomi Mi4i on the one hand and competitors like the HTC Desire 826 (price Rs 25,000) and OnePlus One (Price Rs 19,000) is the display area. The latter two, with 5.5-inch screens, offer 26% more viewing area than the Xiaomi Mi4i, which is expected to be launched in India on April 23.
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