Hike Total initial observations: Is India heading towards data-free smartphones?https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/techook/hike-total-initial-observations-is-india-heading-towards-data-free-smartphones/

Hike Total initial observations: Is India heading towards data-free smartphones?

Here's what you need to know about Hike Total.

Hike recently introduced Hike Total, a new platform that lets users access Hike Messenger and certain apps as well as services without an active Internet connection. As exciting as it sounds, this might just be THE FEATURE that everyone would want to try.

Hike held an event in New Delhi earlier this week where I got a chance to play around with the handset offering all these new features. And based on the limited amount o time I have spent with the handset, these are my first impressions:

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To begin with, Hike has partnered with a couple of domestic smartphone brands like Karbonn and Intex for their respective entry-level handsets. I initially wondered what made Hike put this amazing idea into low-specced phones, but Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder and CEO of Hike Messenger told Techook that this is just the initial phase and that they have some expansion plans in mind with regards to mid-range and high-end smartphones segment.

Mittal also told Techook that at some point in future, Total by Hike will also be available to download as a custom ROM. So, users can simply flash it on to their respective Android smartphones.

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Both the devices in question will go on sale in India starting 1st March 2018, and they will be exclusive to the offline market. It offers near stock Android experience out of the box. Thanks to the software perhaps, both the devices were apparently snappy and responsive. We can’t be sure about anything at this point since we haven’t particular put neither the handsets nor Hike Total platform to the test.

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Hike Total is the result of a patented technology called UTP (Universal Transfer Protocol), which is based on the USSD protocol. Sure, few things are available at no cost. But since it can’t possibly offer everything for free, users need to purchase a small recharge from partnered telecom service providers to achieve more i.e., downloading images, watching videos, etc.

Upon trying the handset for the first time, I noticed that whatever information I required was at my fingertips in just a matter of seconds, without using any data. What I liked about Hike Total was no sign of bloatware that eventually slows down your smartphone. Instead, the company has added certain that don’t require to access the internet.

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Additionally, they have also added a skin to Android which some may users difficult to hand. However, you’ll end up getting used to it as its functions appear quite similar to stock Android’s.

I tried Hike’s instant recharge feature called Sachets. Just to say, it works just fine. Purchase the recharge for as low as Rs 1 for 20MB and you are online! For the sake of trying the feature, I tried to send to send a picture to one of my contacts. But then I a message did pop up saying something along the lines of you don’t a sufficient have data to send the picture. It then pushed me further towards purchasing a data sachet. Upon selecting one, the amount got debited from my wallet, and I received a message saying the data plan has been activated.

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My only gripe here is that in an age of unlimited calling and a, why would anyone even think about purchasing the data in megabytes (MBs) anymore.

Other features including Rail Info, News, etc. work perfectly fine and are displayed very neatly. However, without the internet, you can only access the text-only versions of the information, and to view the multimedia part of the information, you are required to purchase a data sachet.

With Hike Total, the company has integrated UPI into the system, and users can currently send money to any Hike wallet with the help of that. However, your wallet money cannot be transferred back to your bank account, which is dissapointing. Kavin told Techook that they are in talks with the NPCI for full UPI integration into the operating system.

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My final thoughts are, the product is good and provides services that the people want to use without an active data connection. However, I don’t see a point purchasing data sachets just to use some chunks of data. But for a person who has never used a smartphone or wants a secondary device, purchasing one of these phones with Hike Total might just be the ideal choice.