It’s probably got to do with keeping prices down, but Xiaomi’s decision to leave out branded toughened glass protection such as Dragontrail has some fans worried, especially since its biggest competitor — the LeTV Le 1s — offers Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
However, the Note 3 is certainly not the first mass-market, mid-range phone to come to India without branded glass protection. For example, the Lenovo K3 Note — the second-biggest selling smartphone last year, also did not have any branded protection, but offered an unspecified variety of hardened glass on its display.
The Redmi Note 3 is not the first phone from Xiaomi to not feature any branded protection either. While the company’s earlier models — such as the Mi3, Mi4 and Note 1 did offer Corning solutions such as GG or Concor, later models have skipped it to save money.
Omitting branded glass protection can help reduce the manufacturing cost of a handset by about Rs 350-400, which makes a huge difference when you are squeezed tight for margins.
The Note 3, for example, has been made available in India for Rs 11,999 — a price which is almost certainly below the cost of producing, shipping and selling the device in India at present. Of course, Xiaomi may be able to recover its losses after a couple of months if demand for the model continues to remain strong as the cost of production inevitably falls after the first couple of months.
So, from the consumer’s perspective, should one worry about the lack of branded hardened glass on the device?
The answer is not as clear cut as no reviewer — whether from the media, blogs or user community — actually tries to drop these phones to see how much abuse they can take. As a result, it becomes really difficult to measure the benefit of having Gorilla Glass or other layering on the display.
However, what one can go by is previous experience with models like Lenovo K3 Note, which came with an in-house variety of hardened glass. Going by user feedback, there are not that many people who have complained of increased fragility of the model.
At the same time, we have also heard horror stories of how phones that cost Rs 14,000 have ended up with cracked screens simply when they toppled over on their sides on a glass desk.
If you want to be sure, there are only two options: First is, of course, to go for a model like Le 1s, which has proper protection, or secondly, to take your chances with the Redmi device and then buy something like the Kohinshitsu tempered glass protector for Rs 300. To be extra sure, you will also need to buy a phone-cover that properly covers the front part.
Even if your phone has Dragontrail or Gorilla Glass, it would still be required to buy a decent phone case which covers both the edges and the display of the phone to actually protect it in case of a fall.
As for the other option of going for the LeTV model, remember that the Redmi phone has more advanced LTE and a bigger battery. Though the more-advanced LTE may not give any benefit at present in India, the extra-battery power should help you use your phone for a couple more hours than otherwise. On the downside, availability is going to be an issue with the Xiaomi model, while the other one is available off-the-shelf on Amazon.