Fans of the smash-hit Chinese smartphone brand in India are unlikely to get their hands on the phone in December even if an ongoing dispute with Ericsson is resolved, according to e-commerce sources.
UPDATE: The phone will be launched in the second half of January. Pricing is likely to be around 14,000 for the 3G version and 16,000 for the LTE version.
There was speculation that the Xiaomi Mi4 would be launched in India immediately after Diwali, but, according to the latest indications, there is almost zero chance of a launch in November. It was then expected that the phone would be launched in December.
But now, even the December date has been pushed out. There is no certainty when the phone will be launched, according to our sources.
The Chinese company has also been hit with a ban order from the Delhi High Court that has further complicated things, leaving many anxious fans disappointed.
“We are really not happy,” said Siddharth Raman, a college student from Mumbai, who was waiting for the phone. “It’s been almost four months after the phone was launched globally and still no sign of it in India.”
Fans are also worried about the impact that Ericsson’s lawsuit will have on future availability of Xiaomi phones in India.
Lawsuits in India take a long time to get resolved, and Xiaomi cannot afford to wait for a year or two for the case to be resolved in the Delhi High Court before selling in India again.
“The company is working with Ericsson to resolve the matter,” the source said.
Xiaomi has also been hit by an inability to meet demand. Meanwhile, the company is widely expected to debut the Mi5 over the next few days, which is also seen as the company’s first model to hit the US market.
For now, however, Indian fans have been left to look for alternatives such as the ZTE Grand S2, which some consider better than the 3G-only version of the Mi4, . It has been launched in India at Rs 14,000.
The latest Samsung Galaxy Note will also be launched in India around Dec 20.
In addition, the Mi5 will be launched on Dec 9 2014 in China, according to leaks and reports. The Mi5 is unlikely to be launched in India in 2014. Rumored features of the Mi5 include a 5.7-inch 2K display, a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC with the Adreno 430 GPU, and a 20.7MP camera.
Xiaomi launched in Mi4 in China in early August, and is still focused on the home market. The company usually sells its products only in Asian markets.
Another reason for the delayed launch in India is price. The phone has been launched in China for about 1,999 Yuan, or about Rs 19,999. However, a similar priced launch in India may disappoint fans.
To keep the momentum going, the company is seen launching the Mi 4 in India in the Rs 15,000 price range, slightly higher than, but largely in the same range as that of its previous flagship, the Xiaomi Mi3. There has been speculation that the price would around Rs 20,000.
The Xiaomi Mi4 is among the most anticipated smartphones in India, largely due to the Chinese company’s reputation for delivering extremely high-end specifications at mid-range prices.
The Mi3, which was priced at Rs 14,000, for example, delivered specifications that were more at home in the Rs 24,000-plus category.
IMPROVEMENTS OVER MI3
The Mi4 carries forward the legacy, though some in some areas — especially the processor — the improvement is not drastic. However, in two key areas, the Xiaomi Mi4 completely outshines the Mi3 – design and display.
The Mi3, when it was launched in India almost three months ago, amazed buyers with its 5-inch full-HD display due to its crispness. However, the display’s vividness was not comparable to those from brands like Samsung.
The Xiaomi Mi4, however, fixes that issue with an extremely vivid, lively and powerful display with 87% color accuracy — very high for a phone display.
The second noticeable improvement, and one that matters a lot of the in-crowd, is the design of the phone. While the Mi3 sold largely because of its specifications at the given price point, the Mi 4 is likely to be the company’s first phone in India that is likely to be bought also for its superb looks and design.
Gone are the pointy corners and the boxy, slab look, and in comes a judicious mix of metal and curves.
The key here judicious mix. Curves have been around ever since the Samsung Galaxy S3 chose to break from the established, largely-rectangular design for a more oval look. LG’s flagship, the G3, too looks more oval than like a pure rectangle.
However, combined with the use of plastic, the curves have started giving phones a toyish look, as if they were just a plaything and not a ‘serious’ tool meant for grown-ups.
In many ways, the iPhone has always been a good mix of the curves and the ‘seriousness’ of a grown-up phone. While it has curves, it also has sharp, glazing metallic edges that give it a no nonsense look to balance the curves.
Xiaomi Mi4, in that sense, is more like the iPhone – a judicious mix of modernity with an underlying sense of ‘seriousness’. If you like the iPhone design, you’ll like the Xiaomi Mi4.
Of course, the iPhone has not exactly swept the market in India, but that is largely because of a price issue, and the Mi4 does not suffer from that.
As noted earlier, in other terms, the Mi 4 is not exactly a big leap over the Mi3, though the move from Android Jelly Bean to KitKat helps in the performance arena.
In an era of emerging 64-bit processors, the Xiaomi Mi4 will still come with the Snapdragon 801 platform with a quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400 chip at its heart. The Mi3 had a Snapdragon 800 chipset with quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait processor. However, the RAM has been bumped up from 2 GB to 3 GB.
Still, the new configuration helps the Xiaomi model deliver Antutu benchmark scores of above 45,000, compared to 35,000 for the Mi3.
WHAT’S STILL LACKING
A key downside to the phone is the lack of LTE (though an LTE-enabled model is in the works.) The Mi4 being launched in India initially will not come with LTE.
UPDATE: According to our sources, Mi4 will launch in both a 3g only version and a 4g enabled version.
This is the only drawback to what would otherwise have been just a good a phone as any of the top smartphones from rivals like the Sony Xperia Z3 or the Samsung Galaxy Alpha.
It should also be noted that by December, there would be several new models launched by competitors that would compete with the Mi 4. Samsung, for example, will launch three new phones that come with the same curvy-yet-metallic look under its Alpha series.
These are the A700, expected to be priced close to Rs 40,000, the A500, expected to be priced around Rs 27,500 and the A300, expected at around Rs 15,000.
However, Xiaomi’s real competition in India comes from fellow Chinese brands Huawei, Motorola, OnePlus and Lenovo. Huawei recently launched the Honor 6 H60-L04 in India at a price of Rs 20,000.
Though the price is on the higher side, the Huwaei Honor 6 H60-L04 comes with LTE. It also has an Octa-core Kirin 920, but in terms of raw performance, the Mi4 beats the Honor 6 in benchmarks.
Another formidable competitor would be the OnePlus One, the flagship model from OnePlus. The phone, which is just hitting markets globally, is also expected to be launched in India around late December.
The phone is likely to be priced around the Rs 20,000 mark if launched officially, and higher if bought through traders such as those on eBay. The OnePlus One has a different look to the Mi4, and those who like the Xiaomi model’s iPhone-like looks are unlikely to go for the Samsung-type appearance of the OnePlus One and vice versa.
However, the OnePlus One comes with a key advantage in addition to matching the Mi 4 spec-for-spec, it has LTE.
Considering that pan-India LTE is going to be a reality by March next year, possibly by January, some may prefer to shell out the extra Rs 4,000-6,000 to get their hands on the OnePlus One or the Huawei Honor 6, instead of going with the more stylish Xiaomi phone. The Mi4 will also have to compete with the new Lenovo Vibe X2, a 5-inch phone from Lenovo being launched this week for a price of around Rs 26,000.
For most users though, the 14,000-16,000 price tag is going to be too good to pass by and Xiaomi is likely to see smashing sales of its Mi4 — especially, considering that the company managed to supply only 10% or so of the estimated demand in India for its previous flagship, the Mi3.