Today is a big day for fans of Xiaomi, a company that kicked up a lot of dust when it arrived on the scene in India two years ago, but failed to follow up its initial success due to a patent litigation with Ericsson. However, after a prolonged rough patch, the Chinese brand is all set to unveil the Redmi Note 3 in India today — hopefully its first big hit in over a year.
In an event that will be streamed live on Youtube, fans will also be looking for an update on when the company is going to launch its Mi5 model in the country. The prices for the Mi5 — its flagship — are expected to start at 22,000-23,000 in India.
That said, the Redmi Note 3 is almost as good as the flagship, and offers about 70% of the performance of the more expensive model.
The most crucial element of the Note will be the pricing. However, let’s look at why the phone is so special before delving into price details. You can also watch the live event for the launch at the bottom of this page starting at 2 pm.
WHAT’S SO SPECIAL?
The Redmi Note 3 is special for two reasons — one – it’s got decent specifications at a decent price, and two – it comes with support for advanced 4G features such as Voice over LTE and carrier aggregation.
Carrier aggregation refers to the use of more than one carrier or spectrum band at the same time by the device to increase the throughput. It’s a bit like having two Internet connections working in parallel and giving double the speed.
As a result, theoretically speeds can reach 300 Mbps on the downlink, double the 150 Mbps that most 4G devices — including LeTV Le 1s — give.
Does it really matter? It depends on how the feature has been implemented.
Airtel, for one, has upgraded its 4G network in some circles to support handsets that come with aggregation technology and you could end up with double the bandwidth using this device on Airtel compared to a category 4 device. However, as we said, there are lots of fine print — for example, which bands can be aggregated, can a TDD band be combined with an FDD band (as is the case in India), how much can be aggregated and so on.
Still, for those who want to give it a shot, the Redmi Note 3 offers a cheap way to get in on the action.
The second big plus, especially when compared with LeTV Le 1s, is support for 4G voice, also known as Voice over LTE or VoLTE.
This is not a small matter, especially if you plan to check out or move to Reliance Jio’s upcoming 4G network. Even in case of other operators, if you don’t have 4G voice, you end up switching temporarily to 3G or 2G when you press the call button. This usually means a delay of 10-20 seconds before the call starts getting connected.
In addition, the Note has a 16 MP camera instead of the 13 MP unit on LeTV.
In addition, today’s launch will be a make or break day for the Chinese smartphone brand, whose fans have shown increasing negativity in their interaction with the brand on social media in recent months. If the Note 3 is overpriced, it could deal a severe blow to Xiaomi’s future prospects in India.
VALUE FOR MONEY?
This leads us to the crucial question — will the Redmi Note 3 be value for money like Xiaomi’s first model? Or will it be a ‘richly’ priced model like the Mi4?
We believe that the Chinese brand has learnt a valuable lesson from the sales figures of Mi4, and will price the Note 3 at a reasonable level of around Rs 16,000.
Most fans, however, expect the price of the 32 GB model to be around Rs 14,000 — or Rs 3,000 more than LeTV Le 1s.
However, we believe a tag below Rs 15,999 is highly improbably.
For example, the lowest price on Aliexpress for the 3 GB version is Rs 16,812. Adding 15% import charges takes the price to Rs 19,333, and adding 8% VAT takes it to Rs 20,880.
Since Xiaomi has the ability to manufacture in India, it could reduce the import duty by around Rs 1,000.
In addition, the sourcing cost of the Note 3 GB version will be only around Rs 13,000 since the company is getting it from its own warehouse and not from Aliexpress.
Redoing the calculations on a new base of Rs 13,000, we add a 12% excise duty (assuming it is manufacturing in India), taking the price to Rs 14,560. Adding 8% VAT takes the total to Rs 15,725.
Now add a small distributor commission and shipping charges, and it’s very difficult to see how the Redmi Note 3’s total price can be less than Rs 15,999.
Of course, that is still Rs 5,000 more than the LeTV Le 1s, which has practically everything the Note 3 has except advanced LTE features and Cortex A72 technology.
Cortex A72 technology makes the phone feel snappier than the Le 1s in low-load conditions. When you are using several applications at once, however, the LeTV Le 1s is expected to perform better due to its higher processing power on an overall basis.
Otherwise, both models are practically identical. Both come with full-HD 5.5-inch displays that have won praise from users and critics, offer 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage memory and helps you get rid of passwords with their fingerprint sensor.
Finally, therefore, the question becomes one of Xiaomi model’s final price as well as whether you plan to use the same SIM for both 4G data and making voice calls. If you plan to use two SIM cards — one for voice and one for data — then LeTV Le 1s will work fine for you, especially if Note 32 GB costs Rs 17,000 or more.
As far as user reviews are concerned, both phones score above 4 stars out of 5, and there’s very little to choose in that aspect. One edge that the Redmi model has is the ability of the second SIM slot to act as a MicroSD card slot as well, while the LeTV model doesn’t offer any support for external memory.