When you are buying an Android smartphone for anywhere between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 20,000, you have a choice to make. Do you buy a handset made by an Indian manufacturer like Micromax and Karbonn or do you go for an internationally renowned brand like Samsung or Sony?
There isn’t a black-and-white answer to this question. It depends on what you look for in a phone, and what is available in the market at the time. To simplify your choice, there are three broad criteria that you need to consider in making your decision, and three questions to ask yourself.
Hardware & Price
Generally, the international brand’s phone is priced higher than the Indian one, and in most cases, looks inferior on paper. What you need to remember here is that specifications don’t tell the whole story. A dual-core processor can be better than a quad-core, and an 8-megapixel camera can be better than a 13-megapixel one. Inflating specifications is easy, delivering actual performance is what matters.
That said, the question is whether the difference in performance is worth the difference in money. This changes on a case-by-case basis, which is when you need to rely on reviews and recommendations.
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After Sales Support
There is a general notion that with an international brand, you will get better after-sales support than with a local brand. As we have said earlier, after-sales is unquantifiable and the experience will vary, but that general notion of “international is better” isn’t really true. And the reason, unfortunately, is that most after-sales support in India isn’t good.
Hit up any social network and you will find consumers complaining about the service centres of every brand, Indian and international alike. Plus, the warranty your phone comes with is for a single year regardless of brand.
The other element in after-sales support is updates to Android. In this regard as well, you aren’t going to get much help from Indian or international manufacturers. Even Google’s flagship Nexus series, considered to be the gold standard for developers because of its timely updates, is now on an 18-month cycle—so a year and a half after a phone is launched, it won’t be getting updates anyway. In the Rs. 5,000-20,000 category, this is reduced to a year, if at all. Most phones don’t get updated to the next version of Android.
Trust, Ignorance And Brand Value
The trust or confidence that a brand’s name inspires varies from person to person and is difficult to put a price on. What that value is worth for you is going to decide how much more you are willing to spend on a renowned brand.
Here’s the thing about brand value: in most cases, it is born out of ignorance about the subject. Let’s take an example of cars. If I don’t know enough about cars, I might automatically assume that a Honda is better than a Hyundai just because the former is a better-known brand. The two models by both those brands might be quite similar and Honda might be priced 20% more. But since I don’t know enough about cars, the assured quality of a Honda against the uncertainty of a Hyundai would mean that I am willing to pay the extra 20%.
Meanwhile, someone who knows enough about cars can assess the two more carefully and decide whether the 20% is worth it; and if not, they will pay lesser for the Hyundai and thus get a better deal.
To avoid ignorance, of course, you need to do the right research before buying a phone.
The 3 Questions To Ask Yourself
So when you have to buy an Android phone in the Rs. 5,000-20,000 segment, consider these three elements and ask yourself three questions:
Are just the specifications better or is it actually a better phone?
After-sales is probably not going to be a differentiator, so what am I paying for?
Have I done the right research to get a good deal?
It’s your decision, it’s your money. So give yourself honest answers to the above. Chances are, you won’t regret what you buy.