Desperate fans have resorted to an online petition at Change.org to get Xiaomi to launch its latest mid-range device, the Redmi Note 3, in India even as the brand prepares to launch the new Note 4G Prime here.
“It is sad that the Redmi Note 3 is not in India,” said the petition started by Swapnil Kolhe.
“We also want this device in India. We also want to experience the awesomeness of this device. Everyone will agree with me that no other company can offer us such specifications in our budget; only you can do so. Xiaomi always says that India is one of your most important markets. Then why are we deprived of such a cutting-edge device?”
The petition has already been signed by 1,757 fans of the company.
UPDATE: Benchmarks indicate that a new India-specific model – Redmi Note Prime – could come with the powerful Snapdragon 618 processor.
However, the company is currently banned from importing and selling Note 3 in India under a stay order by the Delhi High Court.
Interestingly, the ban applies only to Xiaomi. Thanks to the existence of online shopping sites such as Aliexpress, the Note 3 can be purchased directly by customers in India.
However, the problem is the price.
While Redmi Notes have typically been priced around the Rs 10,000 mark, the 2 GB version is selling for $206 (Rs 13,720) on Aliexpress.com, including shipping charges. However, that’s not all. There will also be import duties of around Rs 1,250 of as well, taking the total to Rs 15,000.
At that price, the Redmi Note 3 becomes a difficult sale in India because of competition like the Gionee Elife S7 (similar specifications plus AMOLED display, price Rs 14,320).
The Note 3, however, does offer an ultrafast fingerprint sensor, something that is still difficult to find on phones in this range in India. (The S7 does not have it.)
Another problem with buying from abroad is that if the parcel is sent via the Kolkata Airport, which is the route that China Post usually uses, it will take one month for the item to reach India due to congestion at the airport.
While items sent via Delhi and Madras airports typically reach in about 7-10 days, items sent via Kolkata through China Post takes about 10-15 days just to clear the glut in the airport itself. Add another two weeks of transportation time and the total time taken for the entire transaction goes to 25-30 days.
In some cases, however, Aliexpress sellers do send India parcels via other postal agencies like Sweden Post and Singapore Post, who don’t typically use Kolkata Airport.
In addition, such phones may not come with Xiaomi India warranty either.
The case against Xiaomi was filed by Ericsson, a Swedish company that pioneered technologies like 3G.
Since it holds some of the essential patents related to 3G and 2G, any company that makes any device that has 2G and 3G technology in it has to pay royalties (1%-2% of sale price) to the Swedish company.
The Delhi High court had, in between, modified its order after Xiaomi pointed out that some of its phones were made from Qualcomm’s chipsets, and that Qualcomm had already taken a license from Ericsson to use its technology. The High Court, therefore, allowed Xiaomi to sell phones built using Qualcomm’s chips.
However, the Redmi Note 3 uses a chips made by MediaTek, which does not get the same benefit as Qualcomm under the ruling. As a result, the Note 3 cannot be imported and sold by Xiaomi in India.
Meanwhile, Xiaomi and Amazon said they are launching a new phone from the Mi brand with a 5.5-inch 720p display.
Given that the display resolution is just 720p (1 MP), the device is unlikely to set the pulse racing. The phone will reportedly be called the Note 4G Prime.
Not surprisingly, the frustration at the absence of Note 3 in India was visible in some social media comments on the latest announcement.
“We want XIAOMI REDMI NOTE 2 and NOTE 3 in india…otherwise no purchase… you guys launch your premium products in china only and provide these s***s to Indians,” an irate fan commented.
Another phone that has been caught up in a similar patent dispute with Ericsson is the Yu Yutopia. The phone is made by Micromax sister company Yu Televentures.
While Micromax was paying royalty to Ericsson, Yu was not. On Dec 3, just after Yu had announced that Yutopia will be launched on Dec 7, the Delhi High Court issued an order that Yu too had to pay royalties like Micromax.
The case was then posted for further hearing on Dec 15. This is apparently the reason why Yu had to put off the launch of Yutopia till Dec 17.