05/02/2013

Editorial: Should you trust Local Brands with your money when buying an Android

I had planned to write this post a long time back. But, because it’s kinda philosophical topic, so I kept delaying it. (I hate philosophy :P)
As the message is clear from the title, this article has been written to remove the brand consciousness present in everyone’s mind. Everyone likes to have a HTC or Samsung or Sony in his pocket. But not everyone can afford the top end models from those brands, right? So, the main question that arises in Jackie Chan's mind is:

My theory is even more valid when you have made up your mind for an Android smartphone. Why? Because given the pace at which Android is growing, even if you a high end phone this season, it will be moved to the mid end category in the next season. Take the case of Samsung Galaxy S II and HTC Sensation. A hear and a half back, they were the phones everyone wanted. Now what? They are shadowed by new heavyweights like Galaxy S II, or the more recent Sony Xperia Z and Lenovo K900. So, if you buy a phone with almost the same specs as the high end phones currently provide but for less than half the price, you can shell out the cash you saved a year or maybe two years later. And guess what, you would have a new shining phone with the latest software and nearly the best hardware. And the total money you had to shell out would still be less than the amount you might have paid while buying that phone from brands like Sony or Samsung. Don’t you agree?

And believe you me, these phones don’t diminish that easily. My 20 months old Spice Mi 310 is still with me, and it can do almost everything Samsung Galaxy Y can do. All the apps are similar, plus no “touchwiz” shit or a bulky “Sense ui” resides on my phone. Most of the phones from local brands like Micromax, Spice, Karbonn or Lava provide vanilla experience, i.e. little to no customization from stock Android.


Head-to-Head Comparison:

Let’s do a short little comparison between three popular devices in the market: Samsung Galaxy Y Duos, Micromax A110 and Samsung Galaxy Grand. Galaxy Y duos and Micromax A110 are similarly priced. (I know, A110 costs about 1k more.) Galaxy Y Duos stands nowhere in front of Micromax A110.  Be it the display, processing power or the camera, Micromax A110 blows Y duos out of water.
Now, we shall compare A110 and S Duos. Galaxy Grand is priced about 2.1 times the price of A110. Yet, both A110 and Grand have the same screen size, same display resolution, same camera, dual core processor and almost everything else is also comparable. I think you have got the idea.

I did a little poll among a short group of my readers. The question asked was “Do you trust local manufacturers?” Though I had not expected, 88% of users voted Yes. In another poll asking users what brand’s Android device they were using,  about 60% of them were using devices manufactured by local brands. I asked one of my readers, Gagandeep Singh Pandher, who switched from a HTC Wildfire S (INR 12k) to a Micromax A110 ( INR 9.5 k), about how he felt about his new phone and which one he preferred. He said, “Wildfire sucks, It has a low internal memory, small screen but yeah camera was better I'd say... and of course because of ice cream sandwich, bigger processor, better battery
so micromax hands down... though i don't know how bad the backend quality of micromax is and the health related concerns like sar values and all.”


So, what’s the catch?

The main difference is in the processors. Most devices from local manufacturers are powered by MediaTek chips, which cost a fraction of the branded chips. You have to bear with comparatively poor customer support. Biggest of all, you rarely get software updates. If there are any bugs, you have to live with them.


Things are changing!


Fortunately, things are moving and in the brighter direction. Our local manufacturer’s customer care is also improving. This reminds me of a little incident. When I had bought my Spice mobile, after about 2 months of buying it, I accidently deleted a system file, which forced my device into a bootloop. I had to go to the Service Centre, the guys were quite friendly, but that friendliness wasn’t of much use as my phone got repaired after about 20 days, as the phone had to be sent to Delhi. That’s because they did not have a technical expert at the local service centre. Some 15 months later, my phone accidently dropped and I had a cracked screen. (Don’t blame it on Spice, Americans have spent about 5.9 billion USD in repairing their damaged iPhones, which mostly involved cracked screens.) I went to the same service centre, with a fear of losing my phone for 3 weeks again, but a technical expert sitting there replaced the screen for me within 20 minutes. God knows how Happy I was. :)

Every company needs money to improve their after sales service. Popular phones like Micromax A110 provide the companies that required money. So, we can surely expect better and better in the upcoming future.

If any local Device Manufacturer is reading this, and would want my opinion, I would suggest them to improve their customer support, spend a bit more on advertising, and release kernel source for their devices so that development can sustain on those devices, and developers can port newer versions of Android themselves.

That's all I had buried in my heart since ages. I hope you enjoyed the article and agree with it. I would love to know your opinion in the comments!
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