Redmi 4: Has Xiaomi forgotten the value-for-money proposition?

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Xiaomi today launched the Redmi 4 — its ‘entry level’ model with a 5-inch display, but a deeper look at the phone’s pricing reveals that the company may be moving away from its initial positioning as a value for money brand.

At first glance, the device appears to be a true-blue entry-level Redmi phone — 2GB of RAM, a decent processor, an HD display and on a the plus side, a bigger battery than is usual for this brand.

But a deeper look at the specifications reveals that even as it pretends to remain an entry-level smartphone, the Redmi 4 is slowly moving away from the segment.

Why? Because, in 2017, almost no one who uses their phone extensively will buy a new device with just 2GB of memory.

Most people will go for the 3GB version, which is priced at Rs 8,999, or almost Rs 9,000.

At Rs 9,000, the device no longer looks very entry-level, and a buyer has many more value-for-money propositions in the Rs 9,000-11,000 price range.

Consider the fact that for Rs 2,000 extra, you can buy the 3GB version of Redmi Note 4 — a ‘mid range’ model that has a superior display and a far more efficient process.

In other words, even as the company has seemingly maintained the price point of Rs 6,999, it has, by confining the model to 2GB of RAM, raised the entry level price to Rs 9,000.

This is all the more disappointing when one considers that — thanks to an extremely sharp decline in the price of DDR3 RAM — it is possible for a phonemaker to add 1 GB of RAM at a cost around Rs 500.

According to industry sources, given the specifications of the three Redmi 4 models announced today, it is only the entry-level model with 2GB RAM that fits the traditional value-for-money positioning that the brand is famous for.

Moreover, Snapdragon 435 — the chipset inside the Redmi 4 —

Today’s new models and specifications

is made on the less-efficient 28 nm process, even as smartphone makers are moving to chips made on the more efficient 14 nm technology. Phones have started coming out with chips made at 10 nm also, though these are definitely not targeted at the entry-level consumer.

Still, the 2GB, entry-level model unveiled today will appeal to those who do not demand much from their phones — such as ‘mom’s and ‘dads’. The young generation, however, are unlikely to go for a device with less than 3GB of RAM, but at Rs 9,000 — the new phone is tantalizingly close to the company’s own Note 4, which comes with an efficient 14 nm chipset.