Xiaomi, which has not had a ‘hit’ in India in the last one year, has avoided its previous pricing blunders with its Redmi Note 3, offering the 32 GB model at just Rs 11,999, and mounting a strong challenge to LeTV Le 1s.
The price is a huge discount over what the device is selling for on e-commerce websites like Aliexpress, where it is priced around Rs 17,000 plus import duties — with the final bill coming to around Rs 19,000 for a buyer from India.
The 32 GB model’s price was not revealed when it was introduced in China, as it was set apart especially for the Indian market where the Chinese firm is prevented from selling the original Note 3 because of its MediaTek processor.
SALVATION AT LAST?
By acceding to the wishes of the fans, Xiaomi has sort of reversed its 2015 strategy of pricing its phones ‘rich’.
Its biggest set back in India came a year ago when it priced the Mi4 at Rs 19,999, and things simply kept getting worse for the company from that point on. To answer criticism around Mi4’s price, it introduced a stripped-down model — Mi4i. This was largely rejected by fans for being too low-fi. Some, in fact, felt insulted that the company was trying to win over the Indian market with an obviously inferior product.
The Redmi Note 3 seems to indicate a pronounced break from its disastrous 2015 policies.
At Rs 11,999, the Note overtakes the LeTV Le 1s as the most value-for-money phone in the Indian smartphone market. In fact, it has also killed the Lenovo’s K4 Note in its bed, where it was trying to recover from the beating it received from LeTv Le 1s.
REDMI NOTE 3 vs LETV LE 1S
There are many reasons why it is worthwhile to pay the Rs 1,000 extra and get the Xiaomi model instead of the LeTV model.
First is the processor. Though slightly less powerful on an overall basis compared to the Helio X10 contained in Le 1s, the Snapdragon 650 contained in the Note is a more up-to-date processor. It contains, for example, ARM’s latest Cortex A72 design, which ensures that for low load situations, the Note 3 will come across as much ‘faster’ than the 1s.
There are three more solid reasons to pick the Redmi model over 1s — a much bigger battery, more advanced 4G support and a better camera.
The Le 1s has a 3 Ah battery whose performance can be called average or slightly above average, particularly after the recent software update.
However, at 4 Ah, the Note 3 offers 25% more capacity. For a smartphone user, any extra capacity is welcome news as most phones die after about 5-6 hours of continuous screen-on usage. The Note should offer a screen-on time of around 6-7 hours, going purely by its battery size.
The third distinct advantage of the Redmi model is support for carrier aggregation via Cat 7 LTE. The 1s comes with single-carrier, Cat 4 LTE.
Though this may not result in any immediate benefit on Indian 4G networks, it is possible that Indian carriers will start supporting aggregated LTE later this year. In addition, the Note 3 also comes with 4G Voice or VoLTE support as well, while the other one doesn’t have it.
Finally, the Xiaomi model promises a better imaging, with a 16 MP camera at the back and dual-tone flash. Aperture is a generous f/2, which should help with low-light photography. In comparison, the 13 MP camera on the Le 1s is nothing to write home about, and has in fact been the source of some heartburn among customers.
UDPATE: According to reviews, the camera on the Redmi Note 3 is better than that on the LeTV Le 1s, especially in low-light situations. However, some have pointed to a lack of sharpness. Since neither camera has image stabilization, video quality has also not been reported to be great.
The Redmi model trails LeTV only in terms of display protection. While the 1s as Gorilla Glass 3 protection, the Xiaomi model apparently doesn’t offer any branded protective glass.
CAN XIAOMI DELIVER?
However, Xiaomi has a trackrecord of announcing ultra-low prices only to disappoint on availability.
While the LeTV model is available on demand, the new phone is unlikely to achieve that status at least till the end of April. This means that many users will have to wait for 1 to 1.5 months if they choose to buy the Xiaomi model instead of LeTV.
In fact, those who have watched the company will remember how customers were “made to fight like dogs”every week (as a fan put it) for as few as 10,000 phones. In contrast, LeTV offered between 60,000-90,000 phones every week right from the start.
If Xiaomi again offers 10,000 or 20,000 units per week, it will not take many sales for public opinion to turn against the company once again.
However, if it is able to offer even 35,000-40,000 units per week, it would be considered a decent sale — as that is the number that companies like Lenovo have typically offered on their weekly flash sales. Registrations are now open on Amazon.in and the first flash sale will happen on next Wednesday at 2 pm.
The company also revealed that it will launch the Mi5 flagship phone, which contains four Cortex A72-based cores instead of two — next month. However, given an expected pricing of at least Rs 22,000 for the starting version, that model is unlikely to appeal to as many people as the Note does.
PS: The aggressive pricing for RN3 is likely to put enormous pressure on Lenovo, which is all set to announce its next ‘big seller’ — the Vibe K5 Plus — on March 15. However, the K5 Plus can hardly be compared to the Le 1s or the Note 3 because of its positioning in the entry-level bracket. While rumors were placing the K5 Plus’ price at Rs 10,000, it would have to be offered at Rs 8,000, or maximum at Rs 8,999, if it is to get any traction. The K5 Plus has a weaker processor and camera, a smaller display and battery and comes with no fast-charging or advanced LTE.