Faced with the challenge of offering a differentiator for customers and diminishing margins, smartphone manufacturers are now talking about a content play. Apple with its highly monetised iTunes Store and App Store is the benchmark everyone is trying to chase. One of the first to offer integrated content in India is LeEco on its new phone, the Le 1s Eco.
Le 1s Eco
Le 1s Eco is not much different from Le 1s, which was launched earlier this year. However, Le Eco wants to sell this version as a different phone, made with India in mind. But if you look at the device it is the same as the Le 1s, no change in looks or specs. So I don’t think the hardware warrants a new review. Just read our earlier review.
Specs: 5.5-inch Full HD IPS LCD display | MediaTek Helio X10 octa-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz | 3GB RAM, 32GB | 13 megapixel rear camera + 5 megapixel front camera| Android 5.0.2 with EUI|
Price: Rs 9,999 (actual price Rs 10,999)
What is the content play?
Le 1s Eco offers access to loads of curated, and some differentiated content. There are two aspects to the service.
One is an app called Levidi, which offers a curated YouTube experience with featured content from the company’s partners Eros. The other is a virtual home button on the screen that takes you to a video hub streaming live television channels from across India. This hub is powered by YuppTV, and offers a carousel with dozens of local channels.
There will be a music streaming service too. This will be powered by Hungama, and is yet to be launched.
How good is the content?
I liked the live TV content because it gives me quick access to channels in my mother tongue. I am sure this can be a big pull for people who are away from their homes, and are looking for some local TV to beat homesickness. However, they might just choose to download the YuppTV app, and not buy an entire phone for this.
The Live hub works seamlessly most of the times. It offers choice in resolution, which is good. You can also swipe from one channel to another with ease.
However I noticed a couple of issues. The app does not load at times, and the live television is actually deferred live, late by about 90 seconds. But latter is not such a big issue as it doesn’t have sports streams at the moment. Anyway, I am doing the review on a beta unit, as is the norm these days.
I am not very convinced about the Levidi app at the moment. I guess this is where the premium content will reside, whenever it is made available. Till then it is just another YouTube aggregator.
Should you buy?
Yes, I think Le 1s Eco is among the best budget smartphones in the market like its earlier version. Initially, the phone has a lower price point of Rs 9,999 which makes it an even better buy. The company claims this one comes with free Le Eco membership, which will otherwise cost you Rs 4900 for the “Supertainment” in the first year. This is great.
But with the content they have at the moment it might be tough to make people dish out Rs 499 every month. What LeEco is offering is certainly a bait worth nibbling on at the moment, but they will have to get in good, exclusive content real fast if they want to make this a sustainable business model.