Friday, Nov 28, 2014

Smartphones at Rs 5,000: Android and the decreasing price of “good enough”

Indian phone buyers look at brand, battery and screen Indian phone buyers look at brand, battery and screen
Written by Mihir Patkar | Mumbai | Posted: January 19, 2014 9:46 am | Updated: January 19, 2014 12:16 pm

The gap between the most expensive and most affordable smartphones in India is a bit crazy. At the top of the line, you find the iPhones and Galaxy Notes selling for upwards of Rs 50,000 and some even touching Rs 60,000. And at the bottom of the pyramid, you can get an Android phone for less than Rs 3,000.

The expensive ones are not worth their price. The cheapest ones are purely functional without letting you actually take advantage of Android—you’d be better off with a dumb phone by Nokia in that range.

So where does a “good enough” Android experience start and what do you need for it? Every few months, that price keeps decreasing as manufacturers are able to fit better hardware at lower prices. Till a year ago, Rs. 10,000 was the lowest I would go to in recommending a smartphone. But that’s changed now with a new crop of devices like the Xolo A600.

It’s not that these are fantastic phones. But unlike handsets previously available in this range, they don’t suffer from poor hardware. If you aren’t going to buy the top-of-the-line phone, there are always going to be some compromises. But in this new lot, those compromises have been reduced.

A recent survey by Nielsen showed that the Indian buyer has three things on his or her mind when purchasing a smartphone: brand, battery and screen. And so far, buying a phone for less than Rs 10,000 meant either compromising on screen quality or battery life. However, phones like the Xolo A600 and Micromax Canvas A77 can now meet those criteria at Rs 7,500. Yup, a brand like Micromax is no longer seen as inferior.

Xolo A600 Xolo A600

Take the Xolo A600 (read our full review tomorrow). The screen is bright, vibrant, legible under direct sunlight, and has good viewing angles, which is an oft-demanded feature by people who commute a lot and can’t always hold their phone in a certain way. And its battery life clocks in at over 18 hours of average use and 6 hours of continuous video playback. That’s good enough for most users.

Even apart from that, the phone is perfectly functional. Sure, you aren’t going to be multi-tasking like a pro on it or playing games like Asphalt 8 without a stutter, but those are the compromises that one can live with, as long as the basics are taken care of.

Slowly but surely, the price of a “good enough” Android experience is inching towards the Rs 5,000 mark.

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