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More new mobile phones than ever!

Several new launches have ensured that the market is buzzing with activity

brunch Updated: Feb 04, 2018 08:47 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Mobile phones,Tecno,Camon
There are several new mobile phones being launched in the market simultaneously

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas marks the start of the technology calendar. The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona follows about seven weeks later. The time in between is usually meant to take a breather. Not so this year. The slew of launches and new gadgets introduced in the market have made January an unusually heavy month. We’ve had Tecno come out with the Camon (has fantastic optics), Detel launched the D1 Plus (once again breaking the world record for the cheapest phone in the world), Samsung came out with the A8+ (a shockingly good phone that takes on the One Plus 5T), the Oppo A83 (an excellent phone that ticks every box), the One Plus 5T Red (one more with just a different colour at the back) and about half a dozen other launches. But one company went a bit haywire. It launched multiple phones back-to-back making it its own Mini Mobile Word Congress.

Samsung A8+ takes on the One Plus 5T

What’s going on?

Honor had multiple launches but the ones that stood out were the Honor View 10 and the Honor 9 Lite. And specially the latter. While this phone came out of nowhere – no leaks, no buzz, no preinformation, it also came with one big question. Why launch this phone in this price category when it had just launched the Honor 7X a few days back? Wasn’t this cannibalising its own sales of a very successful phone? Does Honor have a business model so superior that no one else understands it? Or was this just a shot in the dark to launch multiple phones against the competition and hope one sticks? More importantly, in the battle for the best phone at around 10K, which one now reigns supreme? Well. Many questions and few answers. Let me give this a shot.

The cannibaliser?

9 Lite is a supremely thin, wafer-like phone with an all-glass front and back that looks very sleek

Let’s take a quick look at the 9 Lite itself. The new super aggressive Honor breaks most bastions. This is a supremely thin, wafer-like phone with an all-glass front and back that looks very sleek. While it’s thin and weighs just 149 grams, the all-aluminium frame makes it very rigid and solid in the hand. I would go so far as to say that this phone may well be the best-looking phone under 40k right now. It then adds four cameras (two front and two back giving you hardware bokeh effect without any software tricks) and a full HD edge-to-edge 5.65 inch screen. All the other specs are also top notch. Then, Honor went and priced it at ~10,999.

The competition

The obvious competition is the Mi A1, the Motorola G5S Plus and its own Honor 7X. Frankly speaking, the 9 Lite is a way better phone than all the other three and is priced much less. It is better-looking, thinner, sleeker and has a better camera performance too. Thus the question about it blowing off the competition and cannibalising on its own phone is pretty much answered.

Honor 7X is direct competition to the 9 Lite

But there is one more

One competitor is yet to arrive in India. The Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus. Already out in China, it is to be launched in India soon. It might be rebadged as the Redmi Note 5 or may retain its original name. The phone has serious expectations around it as it takes forward the legacy of the Note series for Xiaomi. A 5.99 inch edge-to-edge screen phone with great battery life and good optics, it will hit Indian shores at around the same price as the 9 Lite. I’ve played around with its Chinese version, the performance was like a Redmi Note 4 with the add-on of an edge-to-edge screen. In effect, the Honor 9 Lite leads it with better looks and four cameras for optical performance.

Xiaomi’s Redmi 5 Plus will hit Indian shores soon

Some clarity?

One part of Honor’s strategy may have just cleared. The 9 Lite and the rush to get it to the market makes sense. It’s a preemptive strike against the Redmi Note 5 even before it releases. It blunts the huge buzz around the next Note and picks up serious numbers even before the competition opens up for sale. The rest of Honors business model continues to be a mystery. It continues to bombard phones into every price category, sometimes two or three that play very close to each other. Honor has serious world-dominating ambitions and this may be the ace up its sleeve.

Let me close by bringing in more drama into an already melodramatic tale. The Mobile World Congress is exactly three weeks away. I’ve heard that Honor may launch another four phones there! Go solve that one.

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

From HT Brunch, February 4, 2018

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First Published: Feb 03, 2018 21:17 IST