Xioami, the Chinese smartphone maker that dominates the Indian market, will tomorrow start selling the POCO M2, India’s cheapest smartphone with a full HD+ display, as well as the country’s cheapest smartphone with 6 GB of RAM.
The POCO M2, with 6 GB of RAM, a 6.5-inch FHD+ display and Mediatek Helio G80 processor, has been priced at just Rs 10,999.
Like in case of Samsung, the M Series from Xiaomi POCO is designed to appeal to the price-conscious customer.
This launch further consolidates Xiaomi’s position as the vendor that offers the lowest price for mid-range smartphones in India at a given hardware specification.
Paired with a Rs 750-instant discount on ICICI and Federal Bank cards, the phone will cost just Rs 10,249 — about 15% cheaper than the previous record holder in the category — Redmi Note 6 Pro.
The POCO M2 also offers 8.8% more screen area compared to the Note 6 Pro, which is also from Xiaomi’s stable.
The launch highlights the difficulty faced by non-Chinese brands in challenging the domination of China-based Xiaomi and BBK Electronics. The two companies account for 75%-80% of India’s smartphone market.
While Indian brands like Micromax and Lava, and Korean brands like Samsung and LG, have tried to take on the might of the two Chinese companies, they have failed to match these two companies in terms of price.
The cheapest full HD+ device from Samsung (Galaxy M21), for example, is priced at Rs 13,999, and comes with only 4 GB of RAM.
However, it does offer a superior AMOLED display, while the POCO M2 makes do with a cheaper, LCD panel.
The 6 GB variant of the M21, meanwhile, is priced at Rs 15,999, and comes with 128 GB of storage, or double that of the POCO M2.
While LG is competitive in the HD+ category — with a couple of competitive models in the Rs 8,000 price range — in the mid-range, FHD+ category that calls for a decent processor and at least 4GB of RAM, prices tend to be above Rs 17,000.
Indian brands like Micromax and LAVA have, meanwhile, more or less given up any hope of gaining traction in the mid-range (Rs 10,000-20,000) market, and largely confine themselves to the entry-level (Rs 4,500-7,000) market.
The Indian government has been concerned about the absolute domination of Chinese brands in India’s smartphone market, particularly in the bread-and-butter mid-range segment.
Smartphones from Xiaomi and BBK (Oppo/Vivo etc) tend to come with operating systems and software designed and updated by Chinese software developers, and can therefore be brought under the control of entities based in China.
Security experts believe that these smartphones, which now number over a hundred millions, can be used to target and cripple India’s crucial infrastructure — including its power network, transportation system, medical facilities, airports and defence capabilities — in the event of an Indo-China war.
In an effort to encourage non-Chinese companies, India has offered production linked incentives to companies who would manufacture smartphones in India.
Besides Taiwan-based Wistron, Pegtron and Foxconn, several Indian manufacturers such as Xion, Micromax and Lava have applied for subsidies under the scheme.
The scheme offers incentives equal to 4 to 6% of the incremental sales of made-in-India smartphones.