“Is that it? Is it already over?”
Those words by a young blogger summed up the launch of the Redmi Note 4 in India yesterday. His surprise (tinged with disappointment, we suspect) is understandable. After all, this was the successor of one of the most successful smartphones of 2016, the Redmi Note 3. And THAT phone had had a very elaborate launch, watched by hundreds of people in the Talkatora stadium in Delhi, in a presentation that went over an hour and was marked by Xiaomi’s global vice-president Hugo Barra gliding onto the stage on a Ninebot, after uttering a dialogue from a super hit Hindi film. That had been a show indeed.
The Redmi Note 4’s launch in comparison was a rather quiet affair. It was at a five-star Hotel and attended by a smaller audience, (there were no Mi Fans). And the presentation was cracklingly crisp, and done and dusted in well under an hour. This is not to say that it was bad. Nay, the event was well-organized, did not get too delayed at the start, and in best Xiaomi tradition, featured a very slickly designed presentation, significantly better than anything we get from other players in the business. Truth be told, we think most other brands in the business would have given an arm and a leg to have a presentation like this one.
Also Read: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Review
So why was the young blogger (and a few others, we wager) a tad disappointed when it was all over and we were asked to check out the phones at the demo and proceed for lunch? Well, simply because some of the things associated with Xiaomi’s presentations were missing. Yes, Hugo Barra did take the stage and so did Jai Mani, the company’s product manager in India. And both did a good job. And yes, there were no stutters, no missed slides and hardly any missteps (Mani is increasingly growing into his role as a presenter of the slightly geekier side of Xiaomi devices – he is far more comfortable on stage now than he was a couple of years ago). This was a brief, efficient presentation.
And yet there was something missing. If we had to put a finger on it, we would say it was perhaps the focus on detail and the humor that some of us have got accustomed to at Xiaomi’s presentations. We are not sure everyone missed them – some of our colleagues consider them superfluous. But speaking for ourselves, we felt that this was just a trifle dry and dusted.
Yes, there were a few flashes of humor from Barra (when he compared the symmetry of his own face with that of Denzel Washington) and he pulled out a sentence in Hindi again (“Picture abhi baaki hai, mere dost” or “There is still a twist left in the movie, my friend”) in the “Kitna doge” (“how much will you give”) tradition of the Mi 4i launch, but for the most part, this was a global Vice President and a product manager talking to the media, rather than two people passionate about products talking to their community. There was more precision than passion on display here. More efficiency than energy. More functionality than fun.
No, we repeat it was not bad at all – it was significantly better than what any of Xiaomi’s competitors could have conjured up. Many of us liked the fact that it got over fast. And as we mentioned before, the slides of the presentation were very well-crafted and both Barra and Mani handled them with surgical efficiency. But imagine Roger Federer winning a match 6-4, 6-4 with no stylish shots, no flourishes, no drop volleys… just doing the needful to get the result he wants.
It was a very good presentation by most standards. It just did not FEEL like a typically Xiaomi one.