It has been raining phones over the past few months in the Indian market, and while this has resulted in a surfeit of choice for the consumer, it has also resulted in a number of devices getting ‘lost’ in the crowd. Had they been released in less competitive times, they would have perhaps fared far better than they actually have done so far. Many of them are not ‘flops’ by any means, but we really think that they deserved more attention from the media and the consumer alike. Who knows, some of them might yet spring to centrestage yet with price cuts (there do seem to be a good many going on – witness Xiaomi and Motorola). And of these, we think the following six in particular deserved so much better than what they got in terms of attention span and market share:
A tablet that has the resolution of the iPad Air and the processor of the Nexux 9, and costs less than half of each? You would have thought xiaomi’s first tablet would have pretty much cleaned up all the competition with those specs, especially when allied with a tweaked-for-tablets version of its MIUI, 2 GB RAM, a pair of very good cameras, 16 GB storage with support for memory cards and a massive 6700 mAh battery that easily went into double digits. At a mere Rs 12,999, it still remains the device we recommend to most people who want a world class tablet at a relatively low price.
It came with specs that many felt could give the likes of the OnePlus One and the Mi 4 a run for their money – a 5.5 inch full HD display, an octa core Hisilicon Kirin processor, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage (expandable), and the world’s first pair of ‘dual parallel’ 8.0-megapixel cameras that the company claimed would deliver very good depth of field, as well as a super 8.0-megapixel selfie camera. And all of it in a sleek, glass encased packaged with a metal frame, and oh, a massive 3600 mAh battery. It had the looks, it had the hardware, and notwithstanding an older version of Android, turned in a decent performance too. Its problem, however, was that at Rs 26,499, it was perceived as being “expensive”, compared to the much-hyped Xiaomi Mi 4 and OnePlus One.
There was a lot to love in the first Nubia device to hit Indian shores. It looked gorgeous (we used the jet black model and loved the bright red illuminated home button), was built on solid lines and had excellent hardware for its price of Rs 16,999 – a 5.0-inch full HD dsiplay, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB storage (expandable), dual SIMs, and most significantly, perhaps the best pair of cameras we have seen (16.0-megapixel at the back, 8.0-megapixel at the front) in a sub-Rs 20,000 phone. Yes, its interface took a bit of getting used to, but we really think it deserved more success as its performance was a notch above many of its competitors and devices at higher price points. It remains one of the best-looking devices we have seen and is perhaps the best option for anyone looking for a good camera phone for less than Rs 20,000.
Some will insist that it came too late in the day to ward off the Chinese smartphone invasion in the Rs 15,000-20,000 category, but the stark fact is that the Lumia 640 XL was perhaps the best Lumia device we had seen since the Lumia 830. In terms of specs, it pretty much went toe to toe against the Androids at Rs 15,000, with a decent 5.7 inch 720p display and a very good 13.0-megapixel camera with the Zeiss optics that made Nokia a cameraphone giant. And of course, Windows Phone 8.1 ran gloriously well on it with no hitches whatsoever. Perhaps Microsoft’s decision to position it as a productivity device backfired – this was very much a mainstream hero in our book. And remains one to this day for any one looking for a rock solid device with a good camera and good battery life.
A device with 3 GB RAM, a 20-megapixel camera, quad HD display, dual speakers and very good design for Rs 36,790? There may have been mutterings about the quality of the processor (the Mediatek Heilo) but no matter which way you look at it, the HTC One E9+ is one of the best value for money high-end current generation devices in the market. Unfortunately for it, it was announced alongside the more premium M9+ which overshadowed it in terms of specs, and then was superseded in that department again by the HTC One Me within days of arriving in the market, A very good device nevertheless, we think and one which actually more than holds its own against HTC’s own One M9 flagship. And at a much lower price too.
It more than matched the much-praised Xiaomi Mi 4i in terms of specs, with a 5.0-inch full HD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, 2 GB RAM, 13.0-megapixel and 5.0-megapixel cameras, 16 GB storage (expandable, unlike on the Mi 4i) and a host of sensors and special apps. It was also very solidly designed (it had a metal frame) and surprisingly lightweight. And it cost Rs 2,000 lesser than the Mi 4i. It’s sole sin perhaps was appearing in the middle of a slew of competing devices from better known brands, most notably Lenovo’s K3 Note (Xiaomi’s cutting the price of the Redmi Note 4G did not help its cause either). We still think it is one of the better deals for anyone looking for a full HD device with good cameras on a tight budget.