We know Xiaomi is the brand that showed nothing but exponential growth since it’s introduction to the Indian smartphone market. It is one of the, if not THE most selling smartphone brands here. Ever since the release of their first models in India, the Mi 3 and the Redmi 1S, we loved them for providing some great hardware for dirt cheap prices.
And the huge success continued with the Redmi Note and the note 4G that gave users those big screens for a small price. Then came the revolutionary Redmi Note 3 and the Redmi 3S range that weren’t even available to everyone who wanted one due to the high demand. And the note 4 was released, which blew the roofs of with sales going on to be the highest selling smartphone in India. So why compare Mi to Samsung?
Here is why!
Samsung was late to the game entering the Indian phone market where Nokia was at the top. Samsung brought a lot in like a waterproof phone, the first 8 megapixel camera in a phone and all but they just couldn’t get the sales they deserved. Then, android was released and Samsung entered that train very early.
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They released the Samsung galaxy S with some serious processing power and a great (for the time) AMOLED display and a great camera. It still was a premium device and cost quite a bit. But it was able to turn people’s attention from the Nokia N series phones and gave users a different dish as software, which they adored. But Samsung didn’t stop there. They wanted to give the taste of android to the mid-range and budget users.
That is when they came out with the Galaxy Pop and the Galaxy Fit. Note that these devices did cost only 10,000-12,000. Back then 12000 rupees for a phone was a kind of premium. Then came the game changer from Samsung; the Galaxy Y. Starting at rupees 7000, it was the cheapest android phone of its time, but it performed better than phones from rivals like HTC and Sony with a faster 800mHz processor, when other companies had phones with 600mHz or so processors for twice the price.
The galaxy Y was the first android or even the first smartphone of many users
The Galaxy Y was the first android or even the first smartphone of many users. Even I got into the android world through it. Sure, there were some compromises like the camera, still the device went out to be a huge success. Samsung also released dual sim version of the Y and a pro version with a keypad, a track pad and a horizontal display and the phone was just so cool.
The rise of android lead to the fall of Nokia and Samsung benefitted from both of this and rose to be the king of the phone business in India. Samsung continued to impress with phones for all price ranges. They had one for everyone. When Sony, HTC and the then windows powered Nokia offered phones at a premium, Samsung had great products from entry level all the way to flagships. Others had to release lower priced phones just to compete with Samsung but couldn’t quite get it right.
Back to the present
But nowadays Samsung is the brand that tech enthusiasts stay away from (apart from their flagship S series and Note series). Mid-rangers and budget offerings from them do not even make sense for the price now. How did it start? Well, we already said that Samsung reached a point where there were phones for every price range.
And eventually, that’s what made them unimpressive. Samsung went on flooding markets with shitloads of phones with basically the same design language with very little difference between these models. Some were even impossible to tell apart from each other.
It started getting weirder when some of the successors to some phones was actually under powered than the original; like the S3 Duos which was a completely crappy device with just 512MB ram compared to the S2 Duos which had 768. And some weird naming routines and all added to the craziness.
In the end, Samsung released too many phones that they began eating up sales of their own phones. To cope to this losses, they were forced to release phones with not much features at higher prices. There were phones that even lacked a proximity sensor! And that trend still continues as some mid rangers from Samsung even lack basic sensors like an auto brightness sensor, that can be found in phones that sell for 5000 rupees even.
The Xiaomi Era
Now let’s come back to today’s Xiaomi. As with Samsung, Xiaomi has served as the first smartphone for many, simply because they were affordable and had great hardware. They came to India with their Redmi series and the flagship Mi series. They then expanded to their Redmi note series as well, which is now their strong suit.
Thus we had three well distinct range of phones that came at the lowest prices in their price segments, with the best internals. And with the third iteration of the note series, they introduced the Max series, as the ‘note’ phone sizes aren’t phablet standard anymore.
The Max didn’t make a lot of sense with it’s huge display and wasn’t that much of a success. The Max 2 looked more premium and was great as a media consumption device and a mammoth when it came to battery life; but still didn’t manage to get great sales.
Then, Xiaomi decided to launch the Redmi Y series, which was the crappiest decision they ever made. The Y had the same internals of the Redmi Note 4 with improvement only in the front camera. Seriously, why did it even exist?
Then came 2018 and till now, the only device from Xiaomi that impressed us was the Redmi note 5 pro
Then came 2018 and till now, the only device from Xiaomi that impressed us was the Redmi Note 5 Pro (not forgetting the POCO F1, but that’s something entirely different). It had a good camera, good display and the new SnapDragon 636 under the hood; all for just 14000 rupees (later increased to 15000 and then reverted back to original). And almost every other device from Xiaomi is powered by the Snapdragon 625!
Just when we thought the Redmi Note 5 was excusable for using the 625, the Y2, the Redmi 6 Pro, all came along with the same chipset! Even with the case of Redmi Note 5 Pro, Xiaomi is no longer the cheapest device to use that chipset. And even the likes of Nokia has the Nokia 6.1 plus with the same SoC, better software and much more premium looks and build is just a 1000 rupees costlier than the Note 5 Pro.
Turn back a year, the Note 4 was the cheapest phone to use the snapdragon 625, but that was also with a lot of compromises. What I’m trying to say is that the ‘Xiaomi factor’ in pricing is not to be seen now, after the Redmi Note 3. Xiaomi is now flooding the market with a number of models with similar specs. And although slowly, the prices are going up for our favourite models. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s exactly the same path Samsung headed a few years back.
So that’s why we believe that Xiaomi is becoming the next Samsung in India, and that too in a bad way. Hope they realize the mistakes they are making, learn from them and correct those in the future to stay in that top position. As of now, I’m having trouble recommending a Xiaomi blindly to someone like I did some time back. Hope they bring back that ‘Mi factor’ and prove to us that they are the Xiaomi we love.