Indians first got a taste of what low-cost marketing and production can achieve with the recent launches of Xiaomi Mi 3 and RedMi 1S.
But now, one of the original price warriors of India’s handset market and a fellow Chinese brand – Huawei, has taken on the challenge posed by Xiaomi.
The company has unveiled two handsets targeted at the Xiaomi Mi4, yes, that’s right, the next version of Mi3, and the RedMi 1S.
The two models are the Huawei Honor Holly, priced Rs 6,999, and the Huawei Honor 6, priced Rs 19,999. In addition, just in case Xiaomi is planning to launch the Mi Pad in India any time soon, Huawei has seen off that too – with the twin launch of the 8-inch Honor T1 and the 7-inch Honor X1.
The tablet T1 is priced at Rs 9,999 and the X1 at Rs 19,999.
In other words, when Xiaomi finally launches the Mi4 and the Mi Pad (both expected to be priced at Rs 18,000), it will find Huawei ready and waiting.
Xiaomi’s strategy of keeping marketing costs to zero by using social media and recovering part of the handset costs through content alliances had totally disoriented its competitors in India. Companies like Micromax and Karbonn, which never thought their hold on the low-price market would ever be challenged, were at a loss as to how counter this unexpected competitor.
Rising to the challenge, Huawei has deployed the four models covering 1) entry level, but decent smartphone 2) high-end smartphone 3) entry level, but decent tablet (T1) and 4) High end tablet (X1).
Like Xiaomi did two months ago, Huawei’s new offerings provide the best hardware within their price brackets.
For example, the Rs 6,999 Honor Holly has nearly everything an entry-level smartphone user can think of – a 5-inch 720p display, 1 GB of RAM, Android KitKat, a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor and an 8 megapixel camera.
In many ways, the Huawei Honor Holly is more advanced than the Xiaomi RedMi 1S, priced Rs 5,999. Firstly, the Honor Holly has a slightly (around 10%) bigger screen. Secondly, Holly comes with Android KitKat, and the front camera is 2 MP against 1.3 MP in the RedMi 1S. That said, the difference is not huge either.
The Honor 6, on the other hand, is ideally a competitor to the Mi4, the latest flagship from Xiaomi, which has not been launched in India yet. The phone comes with a 1.7 GHz octa-core Kirin processor and has a stacked sensor from Sony on its 13 MP camera.
In addition, Huawei will also launch the Huawei Ascend P7, the successor to the P6, this week at a price of around Rs 23,000. The P6, interestingly, is priced at Rs 26,000. The P7, in many ways, is inferior to the Honor 6, but belongs to the Ascend sub-brand which tends to be slightly costlier.
In the tablet space, the T1 and the X1 blaze new trails as they offer very high-end features at decent prices. The Honor X1, for example, offers a higher-than-full-HD display, voice calling, 3G 13 MP camera on the front and best of all, a 5,000 mAh battery.
The T1, priced at Rs 9,999 offers similar or better features than other tablets that are priced in the Rs 13,000-17,000 range in India.
In other words, a true competitor for Xiaomi seems to have arrived from exactly the same place Xiaomi did – China.