Right, let’s get one thing out of the way:
Micromax is back.
Wait, let me qualify that statement a bit:
Micromax is back. In the Indian smartphone market.
Wait again, let me qualify it still further:
Micromax is back in the Indian smartphone in the segment that it once dominated.
We had commented a fair bit about the brand’s relative silence in recent months, a period which has seen it slide in terms of market share and cede way to the likes of Xiaomi and Motorola. And well, while it is really way too premature for us to start heralding the Return of the Prodigal, I guess we can now say for sure that the Indian brand is back. And with its latest devices, it is slugging it out in a section of the market which was its oyster – the sub Rs 10,000 segment.
No Dual-ity, just Evok-ing basics…
In many ways, the two phones that Micromax has launched, the Evok Note and the Evok Power, represent a return to the basics for the brand. Unlike the Dual 5 (and the forthcoming Dual 4, we hear), they appeal to the segment seeking good mobile bang for not too many bucks. The Note is priced at Rs 9,499 and the Power comes for Rs 6,999. And both deliver a fair deal of spec dollop for those Dollars, or rather, Rupees.
The Note is the big daddy of the two. It comes with a 5.5-inch full HD display, 3 GB RAM and 32 GB of storage (expandable), a 13.0-megapixel rear camera, a 5.0-megapixel front facing one, a fingerprint sensor and a massive 4000 mAh battery. The Power retains the big battery but moves a notch down in other departments – it has a 5.0-inch 720p HD display, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB storage (expandable), 8.0-megapixel rear camera and 5.0-megapixel front facing camera, and yes, a fingerprint sensor (a rarity at this price point). Both phones run on Android 6.0, support 4G and VoLTE and come with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity. The Note has enhanced security features that are reminiscent of the Dual 5 – there is a Secure Space section that allows you to keep apps and files that you wish hidden from other eyes. And yes, Micromax has added headphones and screen protectors inside the box of both devices and also a case for the Note!
The phones also come with what many might consider being an Achilles Heel – their processors. The Note is powered by a MediaTek MT6753 octa-core chip, while the Power relies on an ARM Cortex-A53 quad-core chip. At a time when Xiaomi is throwing Qualcomm Qualcomm Snapdragon processors to the consumer at similar price points, we reckon there will be some eyebrows raised on the chippy front.
…In a new avatar, though…
Eyebrows will also be raised at the design of the two phones. But these will be raised in approval, we suspect. Because both the Evok Note and Power look rather different from Micromax’s predecessors. Both sport a metallic look, and while the Note has the more classy appearance, with its curved sides, we think the Power will attract more glances because of a black rubber band running along its sides, which we are told will protect it from drops. Why such protection was not extended to the Note is interesting – perhaps because it has a case inside the package – but anyway, the Power is definitely going to look distinct because of that band. The Power is also less curvy than the Note, with relatively straight sides that merge into a slightly curved back – of course, the Power is discernibly smaller because of its smaller display.
We have got the gold editions of both phones and well, they do look good for the price points. The Power has a more matte-like finish on the back while the Note has a slightly brushed metal effect that is very reminiscent of the Unicorn, which was launched last year by Micromax’s sister brand, YU. Both phones are heavy, courtesy those batteries, but are built on solid lines and we like the metal buttons and clean finishes. Interestingly, the Power has a micro USB port right on top of it – unusual in these days.
…and online only too!
There is also a slight twist to the whole sales plot of the new Evok devices. These are being sold in association with Flipkart, which is interesting when you consider that Micromax’s Dual 5 was targeted at the offline market (Micromax CEO Rahul Sharma clearly remarked “This is offline” when some media persons tried to compare the device with the OnePlus 3T). The online angle is going to be interesting when you consider that the “value for money” segment is fairly loaded – Motorola, Lenovo and Xiaomi are all major players here. Flipkart, of course, is itself in the news because of its acquisition of eBay India, but that is another story. Micromax, of course, has had tie-ups with e-commerce players in the past (most notably Snapdeal, which is also, interestingly, on Flipkart’s radar), but it was seen mainly as an offline player, with its sister brand YU being the one that was focused on online. Where YU is, is of course, yet another question. But Evok clearly shows Micromax taking the dual-pronged online-offline path on its way back. The Dual 5 it seems is targeted at the likes of Vivo, Oppo and Gionee while the Evok Note and Power will deal with the Xiaomi, Lenovo, Moto trio.
Making Mi see Red?
So what chance does this duo have in the market? We will be taking a closer look at what justice it does to its spec sheet in our detailed reviews. Both phones are clearly fighting on big batteries and security features, and from what we have seen, the Note’s display is pretty good as well.
But on the surface, it is clear that the Note will go up against another Note – the Note 4 from Xiaomi – while the Power will have to contend with the Redmi 4A. On paper, we have to concede that the force seems slightly to be with the Chinese player in the case of the Note 4, which has what many consider to be a better processor (the Snapdragon 625) and has a 3 GB RAM and 32 GB variant available at Rs 10,999 and a 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage available for Rs 9,999. The Power is slightly more expensive than the Redmi 4A but we reckon the fingerprint sensor and bigger battery will move some consumers, even though the 4A has a very good camera and a processor that is perceived to be better. Mind you, both Micromax devices come with headphones and screen protectors in the box, which is a rarity at this price point from many online-only brands.
Stay tuned for our reviews and comparisons (feel free to suggest a few if you wish) of both devices. Yes, Micromax is back. Just where it is headed could well be decided by the fate of these devices.