A war of two brands

Two fiercely competitive phones are at war. Who will win?

brunch Updated: Feb 24, 2018 21:46 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Xiaomi,Note 5,Note 5 Pro
Honor’s 9 Lite (above left) and the Note 5 are battling it out for market supremacy

As I watched the movie The Darkest Hour (2017), and experienced that rousing speech by Winston Churchill – my thoughts moved to the war taking place on our streets and shores. I had predicted this war in a column a few weeks ago, but even I had underestimated the brutality of it all. I tried very hard to ignore it and base this column on something entirely different – but the persistence, threats and sheer blast of questions directed at me on social media have made me realise that it would be unwise to ignore this ground swell. It would not be pleasant to be lynched and thus, here is the shootout of the year!

The Xiaomi story

Xiaomi became the Number 1 smartphone seller in India just a few days back. A remarkable feat considering the fact that it had almost gone comatose in terms of new releases for a while. Its greatest success has been the Note series wherein the Note 3 and 4 set the market on fire. The release of the Note 5 was making most Xiaomi fans delirious. Xiaomi came out strong and released not one but two new Note phones. Note 5 and Note 5 Pro. With what it has achieved before with a single Note phone, a dual assault was supposed to be the death knell for all others. Is it?

The Honor story

Honor has been the brand to watch out for. As a spin off from Huawei (the world number 2 which surpassed Apple as the world’s second largest smartphone brand in sales), it is now taken to be the most aggressive player in terms of product portfolio, new releases, features and pricing. Its release pattern has been exactly opposite to that of Xiaomi, wherein it released multiple phones around the same price point and dominated the market. Its latest phone, the Honor 9 Lite was released early to ensure that it blunted the upcoming onslaught of the Note 5. Did it?

Note 5

This is a rebadged Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus that was already released in China a while back. It’s pretty standard looking, almost like the older Note 4 but taller due to its 18:9 screen ratio. It’s a big phone (5.99 inches, 2160 x 1080 resolution at 403PPI) but feels good in the hand. It has a single camera at the back and front (12 MP and 5 MP) with a Snapdragon 625 chipset and pulls in a 4000 mAh battery.

Xiaomi Note 5 Vs the Honor 9 Lite

Eventually it boils down to this. Xiaomi and Honor are the two brands to watch out for, both are locked in a battle for supremacy, both brands have some of the smartest people working for them in India, both brands are backed by their parent companies to the tee and for both, India is easily the most important territory they play in. Neither of them will give an inch and within this epic battle for supremacy – both fired their biggest salvos together.

9 Lite

This is a stunner in design with a glass front and rear, and a great hand feel as it has got a screen size of 5.65 inches (2160 x 1080 resolution at 428 PPI). It has four cameras in front and back with a Kirin 659 chipset and a 3000 mAh battery. The Honor 9 Lite wins easily in terms of design, screen and camera performance. Battery life was almost equal due to the screen size difference and the overall look is far more premium.

The Note 5 that wasn’t

The Note 5 Pro should have been the Note 5.

Xiaomi also introduced the Note 5 Pro and if I can be brutally honest, then this should have been called the Note 5 and should have been the only phone released. Better design (very iPhone Xish), dual camera at the back, better specs – this would have really ignited the market. Unfortunately it’s priced way higher and thus not a contender.

Both the Note 5 and 9 Lite will go to war, each representing their respective brands. Both will sell in huge numbers and claim to be super successful. But when you strip away the PR, the hype and the chest thumping, there can only be one that is declared a real winner. And that will be purely based on which product is better. Right now, the 9 Lite leads. But the battle is just warming up with the rest of the year looming ahead for these two brands to slug it out.

Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war. Do you know who said that? Donald Trump! Go Figure :)

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, February 25, 2018

Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch

Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch

First Published: Feb 24, 2018 20:18 IST