Lenovo, the Chinese smartphone giant that heralded the smartphone revolution in India with its ultra-affordable models like A6000, is all set to release the latest of its K series models — the K6 Power sometime early next week.
Does the phone promise anything interesting? Should you hold off on your planned purchase till you get the full picture next week?
Frankly, the answer is a ‘no’, and it’s not Lenovo’s fault.
If it is anybody’s fault, it is perhaps the fault of the entire smartphone industry: Innovation has more or less died in the last twelve months.
Companies are coming up with models with very small and incremental changes, such as moving from 3GB RAM to 4GB RAM and so on.
In case of the Lenovo K6 Power too, there is very little that can really be called new or path-breaking.
The display is a 5-inch full-HD affair, while the processor is very similar to what you have been seeing in India for the last 1.5 years.
The maximum LTE download speed remains at 150 Mbps, the same speed that the very first 4G models came with almost two years ago.
The only small addition is support for 10+10 carrier aggregation. However, given that most 4G operators use a block size of 20 or 30 MHz in India, this is unlikely to make much of a difference.
The core design in the processor is Cortex A53, the same design that can be found inside Desire 820 — launched in September 2014.
Internal storage of the Lenovo K6 Power varies from 16 GB of 32 GB, whilethe back camera is of 16 MP and the front shooter is of 8 MP resolution.
All these has probably brought home the point to you already: Despite all the hype, this is yet another mid-range phone in an overcrowded and increasingly commoditized market.
The only possible way in which Lenovo can make a splash with the model is if launches the K6 Power at a price of 7,500 or less.
The problem though is not one of just Lenovo’s models. Starting from late 2014 to early 2016, the Indian smartphone market saw a lot of excitement.
Companies like Lenovo, Xiaomi, LeEco and OnePlus broke all kinds of barriers — pricing, features, accessibility — making smartphones the fastest growing item in the Indian consumer market.
But that phase is now over. Practically the entire youth of the country already have smartphones.
To continue the growth and excitement, these brands — along with Android-maker Google — must now come up with something radically new and innovative.
For example, it can be smartphones that can also double up as PCs when you attach a monitor to them.
Microsoft tried something along these lines with its Lumia 950 and the Continuum dock launched a year ago. But it was neither here nor there. The hardware, particularly the processor, could not give the same experience as a PC due to power limitations.
But that limitation has already been overcome with chipsets like Snapdragon 820, 821, MediaTek X20 and X25. These chips, which are almost a year old now, are more powerful than many laptop processors currently in use in India, and will be able to give a true PC-like experience without lags and stuttering.
A second area of potential excitement is virtual reality. However, here too, efforts have not gone beyond the initial amateurish attempts using cheap headsets for the smartphone.
One thing that everyone can take for granted is that without something really new and attention-grabbing, merely adding more and more RAM is not going to keep the buyers excited — especially in the Rs 10,000 price band.
Of course, the entry-level market — at Rs 3,500-6,000 will continue to grow and see a lot of action, but they will essentially be around transmigrating the features currently available in the Rs 10,000 market to the entry level segment.
For the mid-range market, something more has to be offered. The question is, who will do it?