It looks like the rivalry between Xiaomi and its home-bred competitor LeTV is all set to get even hotter with the launch of Xiaomi Mi5 in India next month. At roughly the same time, LeTV will bring its latest flagship, the Snapdragon 820-powered Le 2 Pro, into India.
Unlike the modest 5.15-inch full-HD display on Mi5, the LeEco model comes with a bigger display with twice as many pixels. With the launch of these models, the fight between the two will spill over into the flagship category from the mid-range market.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story had said that the new phone will be either the Le 1 Pro or the Le 2Pro. We have subsequently been able to confirm that it will be Le 2 Pro.
The battle started when, two months ago, LeEco introduced its value-for-money phone Le 1s in India at a breathtaking price of Rs 10,990, forcing Xiaomi to follow on by pricing the Redmi Note 3 at just Rs 11,999.
Though Xiaomi’s pricing helped the vendor garner some goodwill from fans and prevent LeTV from running away with the market, things have not been very smooth for the brand as it has struggled to deliver the 3 GB variant in decent quantities.
While the Le 1s had thousands of ratings after its first two flash sales, the Redmi Note 32 GB has only 75 ratings — indicating the huge difference in the actual number of phones sold.
Now, LeEco is all set to ratchet up the fight and has set the ball rolling on bringing its upcoming high-end flagship — the Le 2 Pro — in India in April, according to our sources.
With a pricing of around Rs 25,000-27,000, the phone will clash against Xiaomi Mi5, which is also set to be priced in the same band for an equivalent memory version.
HIGH-END MARKET GETS THE TREATMENT
When the 1s was launched, comparable offerings from rivals — such as HTC Desire 828, OnePlus 2, Nexus 5X and Xperia M5 — have all started looking super expensive.
Not surprisingly, the super-value-for-money smartphones from LeEco and Xiaomi have managed to capture the attention — and the money share — of mid-range consumers in India.
However, when it came to the flagship configurations — 4 GB of RAM, Quad-HD displays and powerful Cortex A72-based processors — the Chinese players have been largely absent and the field is still dominated by Samsung, Sony, HTC and so on.
Yu, which tried to disrupt the market with its Yutopia priced at Rs 25,000, couldn’t pose much of a challenge due to software problems and small glitches with the hardware.
However, the upcoming model from LeTV is unlikely to go the way of Yutopia for a number of reasons.
First, this won’t be the first high-end device from LeTV, like Yutopia was for Yu. The company has already been selling in China nearly a year and has a track record of delivering great hardware in the high-end segment as well.
Secondly, unlike Yu and Xiaomi, LeTV has proven that it has the manufacturing muscle to supply as many phones as needed to meet the demand. When it launched the 1s, it sold 2 lakh units within the first month — an unprecedented feat for any smartphone in the country.
Finally, the Le 2 Pro easily blows Mi5 out of the water when it comes to specifications.
LE 2 Pro SPECIFICATIONS
The Le 2 Pro — which is in the process of being brought to the market in China — comes with a 5.7-inch Quad-HD display — which 22.5% bigger than the screen on Xiaomi Mi5 — and also boasts of a 21-MP camera — both of which are missing on Xiaomi Mi5.
The LeEco model will also come with 64 GB of memory, Dolby audio, 3.1 Ah battery, USB Type C and an 8 MP camera on the front to supplement its 21 MP main camera.
The most interesting aspect of the Le 2 Pro is on the inside — the new Snapdragon 820 processor coupled with 4 GB of DDR4 RAM that promises to bench above 100,000 on Antutu.
The Snapdragon 820 — which is found inside both Xiaomi Mi5 and LeEco 2 Pro — is twice as powerful as last year’s premium chipset — Snapdragon 810 — and consumes less power due to its 14 nm manufacturing technology.
Another factor that is likely to weigh in favor of LeEco is availability, as the company has more or less kept up with demand in India when it launched its last model, while Xiaomi has been making do with 10,000-20,000 units per week while the demand is ten times as much.
Irrespective of who wins the battle of the flagships, one person who will definitely be on the winning side is the Indian consumer. With the ‘low price’ revolution coming to the high-end market, MNC brands too will be forced to reduce their margins and offer their galaxy of phones at slightly more affordable prices.