Vivo

Vivo

Xiaomi is a huge hit in India, but not everyone is happy

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If you’re a numbers person, Xiaomi is killing it in India. Last month, the company announced it had sold more than 500,000 smartphones in less than three days between October 1 to 3, an industry-first milestone. Later in the month, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun published a note on Xiaomi India’s Facebook page announcing the company’s latest milestone having sold 1 million smartphones in just 18 days as the online retailers in the country went on an overdrive for the festive season.

India is an extremely important market in Xiaomi’s globalization strategy and their largest market outside of mainland China, and per Lei Jun’s post, Xiaomi aims to capture the largest market share in India within 3-5 years.

Yet, all is not well. My Twitter and Facebook timeline is full of rants against what are great devices. Poor after-sales support experience, non-availability of spare parts, and long wait times for getting devices serviced have hurt customer experience and brand reputation. In an informal poll I did on Twitter asking about issues with Xiaomi in India, ‘after-sales service’ garnered over 40% of votes.

According to a Xiaomi spokesperson, the company is transitioning the most critical parts of our after-sales operations in-house, aiming for a significant improvement in the service. As part of this transition, Xiaomi is updating its processes further to ensure the quick resolution of complaints, and has already initiated a dedicated spare parts warehouse in Bangalore.

“We believe that this will result in a significant increase in customer satisfaction. We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our India business and we have never been shy in acknowledging that a significant portion has been dedicated to after-sales. Within two years of operation, the company has more than 100 service centers in the country, of which 70+ are exclusive service centers. I am positive that all our efforts will result in a much better after-sales and customer care experience to our users in the next few weeks.”

Xiaomi is a huge hit in India, but not everyone is happy

One of the constant cribs about Xiaomi comes from geeky audience who keeps a tab on global news and trends. A lot of Xiaomi devices never make it to India despite generating a lot of buzz. Not just smartphones, Mi Band and Mi Air Purifier are the only two smart home products from the Chinese company to be officially launched in India. Incidentally, a lot of that annoyance is caused by the regional media. Because it’s a popular brand, publications in India are happy to cover devices launched in China knowing well that they are not making their way to India. By privileged access, a lot of us acquire those devices and publish features around them generating interest amongst Indian consumers.

The Xiaomi spokesperson clarified that the company has a strategy of launching one flagship per year and this year it is Mi 5 and next year they will have another flagship phone. The flagship phone market in India is still very small and they intend to keep flagship portfolio very tight in India.

“Xiaomi is still new and learning in India with a small team and we need to plan our portfolio very cautiously. In our home market – It is extremely well known and quite popular and we are able to launch a diverse portfolio of devices.”

But the ‘availability’ issue is not just limited to limited devices being launched in the country, but also getting your hands on one of their devices after you’ve made the buying decision. Xiaomi entered the Indian market in July 2014 with a unique ‘Flash Sale’ model with Flipkart. While the entire stocks got sold out in seconds, and the company sent gloating press releases about it, it increasingly became hard to buy a Mi smartphone. The flash sales evolved into open sales, and Xiaomi extended its partnership with Amazon and Snapdeal as well, but limited stocks and no offline availability irks a lot of potential buyers. For people like me, it’s hard to recommend a device to a reader or a friend that is hard to procure.

Even in their home country, Vivo and OPPO recently edged out Xiaomi as China’s top phone makers. The former top smartphone maker, Xiaomi has dropped down to number four with a market share of 10.6 percent.

“Xiaomi needs a hero flagship device in premium to drive mindshare to compete with much more focused R&D and manufacturing driven brands such as Oppo, Vivo, Apple and Huawei. Also, lack of presence in offline space has been one of the determinants for Xiaomi’s slowing growth as its e-commerce driven business model has hit a ceiling.”

– Meng Zhang, Senior Analyst, Counterpoint Research

Xiaomi is a huge hit in India, but not everyone is happy

Despite the popularity of Xiaomi smartphones in India, and in other markets, a lot of users aren’t too happy with MIUI, the company’s proprietary Android customization. It’s a well thought out UI, and packs in a lot of neat utility features and advanced capabilities, but the Android layer underneath isn’t updated as quickly as users would like. There are a lot of MIUI fans, mind you, and the company does a better job at custom skin than most smartphone manufacturers, but MIUI lives on a dated Android version far too long than one would like.

With grand visions for the Indian market, and upcoming entry into the unforgiving US market next year, Xiaomi needs to iron out these issues if they want to build a brand and not just be contented with sales numbers. It’s a crowded market out there, and people are happy to jump ships for better value and experience, and rightly so.

Vivo V5: Hands on and first impressions

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Earlier today, Vivo announced the launch of their mid-range flagship device in India. The Vivo V5 packs in an unprecedented 20MP front camera and wraps it with mid-level internals in a stylish metallic chassis.

Vivo V5 Specifications

  • Operating System: Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Funtouch OS 2.6
  • Display: 13.97cm (5.5-inch) HD (1280 x 720) | 2.5D curved Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Processor: 1.5GHz octa-core 64-bit MediaTek MT6750
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Internal Storage: 32GB; expandable up to 128GB with microSD card
  • Camera: 20MP rear camera | 13MP front camera
  • Dimensions: 153.8 x 75.5 x 7.55mm
  • Weight: 154g
  • Battery: 3000mAh

Design

Vivo V5: Hands on and first impressions

The Vivo V5 looks like a regular slab of metal – the unibody design that we see too often, and yet it does not look bad. The metallic construction with a matte finish at the back and an engraved Vivo logo gives it a premium look, but of course, it does not stand out. It’s slim, and the curved edges makes it quite ergonomic to grip in the hand.

The 5.5-inch display with Corning Gorilla Glass protection is brilliant. It’s bright and vivid, the viewing angles are great, and it impresses, even though it is a tad reflective and struggles in bright outdoors.

Vivo V5: Hands on and first impressions

The joy of the nice display is, however, short-lived as you realize it’s only an HD display, quite a disappointment for a phone at this price. Unless you look close enough, the 294ppi display does not look pixelated, but it’s a definite mishit on the specifications sheet.

Despite the protection on the glass, the out-of-the-box unit comes with a tempered glass protector applied on it that I took off as soon as I could. There’s also a silicone back cover bundled in the box.

Hardware

Powered by the 1.5GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6750 chipset with Mali 860 GPU, the V5 makes up for the mid-level processor with a generous 4GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage.

In the little time I spent with the device, the phone performed okay with no apparent lags even during multi-tasking. Of course, that could change as we install and use more apps, and try out those graphic-intensive games.

The V5 also packs in the custom built AK4376 Hi-Fi audio chipset that promises an immersive audio experience by giving a signal-to-noise ratio of up to 115dB. It’s loud, and not rash, in the couple of songs I heard on it during my time with the device.

Vivo V5: Hands on and first impressions

The fingerprint scanner is placed below the display on the front of the device (doubles up as the home button), and unlocks the device in quick time without any issues each time.

The phone boasts of a 3000mAh non-removable battery. It’s good enough, but there’s no fast charging, yet the box includes a 5V/2A charger. Also, the phone includes microUSB port for charging the device, while I would prefer USB Type-C on all smartphones going forward.

I’d expect better battery performance with an HD display instead of Full HD, but we’ll know better only when we test the phone for a longer period of time.

Software

Out of the box, the Vivo V5 comes with the company’s proprietary Funtouch OS 2.6 running on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Like is the case with most custom Android implementations, there is no app drawer here, but is otherwise a straightforward and plain, vanilla UI.

Camera

Vivo V5: Hands on and first impressions

Of course, the highlight of the Vivo V5 is the 20MP front camera with Moonlight Glow technology for better selfies. The few selfies I clicked gave mixed results. Some were pretty good and seemed to validate company’s tall claims of balanced illumination and no noise, but few ended up being too over exposed for my liking.

The 13-megapixel rear camera performed quite okay in daylight, but indoors or in poor light conditions, the noise was very apparent. Of course, these observations are from a limited photos I clicked without being specific of test shots and ambient scenes.

Summary

Vivo V5: Hands on and first impressions

If you take out the front camera from the equation (for those who’re still not in on the selfie craze), the Vivo V5 is a tad uninspiring smartphone. However, with that marquee feature and good-looking metal body, and the fact that the V5 is available in physical retail stores across the country, unlike a lot of its competition, the company might be on something interesting.

The Vivo V5 is priced at ₹17,980 ($265) in India, and goes on sale on November 26. Let us know your initial thoughts about the phone with ‘Moonlight Camera’ in the comments below.

Vivo V5 with 20MP front camera launches in India

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In a press event in Mumbai, Vivo unveiled their flagship device for India, the Vivo V5. Focused on the young, selfie-obsessed young audience, the Vivo V5 packs in an unprecedented 20MP front camera.

The V5 boasts of a ‘Moonlight Glow’ feature that induces a natural glow on the face without straining eyes that lights up the picture irrespective of the lighting conditions. The company claims that the feature allows users to capture perfect selfies without making them grainy, distorted or flooded with hard flash.

“With the launch of V5, Vivo adds a new dimension and sets its focus on emerging camera technology, thus offering an unprecedented camera experience. V5 comes with the first-ever 20 MP front camera that creates flawless pictures in naturally vivid colours. We are sure that our new offering is all set to create a new benchmark and will be widely accepted by customers and redefine the selfie experience.�

– Kent Cheng, CEO, Vivo India

There’s a fingerprint sensor that also allows you to activate your apps by swiping the screen down towards the fingerprint sensor. The ‘Smart Screen-Split’ feature allows users to multitask without having to switch back and forth each time a notification pops up that needs your attention. The company also flaunts their custom-made AK4376 dedicated Hi-Fi audio chip that provides an immersive audio experience.

Vivo V5 with 20MP front camera launches in India

Vivo V5 Specifications

  • Operating System: Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Funtouch OS 2.6
  • Display: 13.97cm (5.5-inch) HD (1280 x 720) | 2.5D curved Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Processor: 1.8GHz octa-core 64-bit Snapdragon 652
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Internal Storage: 32GB; expandable up to 128GB with microSD card
  • Camera: 20MP rear camera | 13MP front camera
  • Dimensions: 153.8 x 75.5 x 7.55mm
  • Weight: 154g
  • Battery: 3000mAh

The Chinese smartphone manufacturer, Vivo, entered the Indian market in December 2014, and currently has its presence in more than 400 cities in 22 states with over 33,000 outlets across the country.

Priced at ₹17,980 ($265), the Vivo V5 will be available from November 26 across online and offline stores in the country, and the pre-orders will start from tomorrow.

At the launch, the company also dropped a teaser for the upcoming Vivo V5 Plus, world’s first smartphone with a dual front camera setup, although no timeline for the launch or availability was shared.