The launch of the Moto E smartphone at Rs 6,999 could radically change the smartphone market in India. As a brand Motorola threatens not just Micromax and Karbonn which are known for creating cheaper devices with top-end specs, but it will also pose a challenge to bigger smartphone brands such as Samsung, Sony and possibly even Nokia, which has been trying to regain its place in the Indian market.
Mobile analysts everywhere have been spelling it out since the beginning of 2013: The age of high-end flagship smartphones is over and mid-range phones will drive the volume of sales. According to an IDC report in February 2014, “emerging markets have become the centre of attention when talking about present and future smartphone growth.”
The report notes that in a developing market like India, what will drive up smartphone sales are low-cost or budget phones. “Growth in the India market doesn’t rely on high-end devices like the iPhone, but in low-cost Android phones,” said Kiranjeet Kaur, a senior analyst for mobile phones at IDC Asia/Pacific.
And this is why the Moto E could be a big hit. In terms of specs, the device has a 4.3-inch screen with 960×540 pixel resolution with Gorilla Glass 3. It is the only smartphone offering such a high quality display at this price point. Compared to this the display of the Samsung Galaxy Star Pro, which is priced at Rs 6,110 has a resolution of 800×480 (WVGA) pixels.
The Moto E also comes with Android 4.4 KitKat in its stock form, with Motorola software in the form of apps. It has a dual-core processor clocked at 1.2 GHz and 1GB RAM, along with 4GB internal storage space and a microSD card slot. On the back is a 5 megapixel camera but there’s no front camera or LED flash, which is standard for this price point. It also has 3G support, Bluetooth 4.0, for low-powered connections.
In comparison to this the Star Pro doesn’t have 3G, has a single-core processor and is still on Android Jelly Bean. The camera is a mere 2-megapixel unit. The RAM and total memory for the smartphone are not listed on Samsung’s website, but at least the former is unlikely to top the Moto E. For a user who wants specs but has a low-end budget the Moto E with its 1GB RAM, and 5-megapixel camera is the clear winner. And what helps is that Motorola, like Samsung, has good after-sales service.
For Samsung, as this IDC report notes, the Galaxy Star has been ”bringing in huge volumes at the low end,” and the Pro is supposed to be a better version of this.With the Moto E coming at such low-cost and offering great specs, that picture could change quickly.
Where Sony is concerned, the cheapest smartphone they have to offer is Sony Xperia E which is available in dual-SIM and single SIM versions. The smartphone, which is priced at around Rs 7,990 at online retailers, has 3.5 inch screen with 320×480 pixel resolution, 512 MB RAM, and a 3.15 primary VGA camera and no front camera. The single-SIM version of the phone is priced at Rs 6,895. This, too, pales in comparison to the Moto E.
The Moto E is a winner over both low-end Sony and Samsung smartphones. The other brand that should worry about the Moto E is Nokia, which had the third spot in smartphone sales in India, according to latest IDC data.
Nokia’s Android offering the Nokia X which was launched for Rs 8,599, but retails close to the Moto E’s price, again lags behind in terms of specs. While the 4-inch display and the 1GHz dual-core processor are close to the Moto E, the 512 MB RAM, and 3-megapixel rear camera come up short. This is even more unlikely to impress users given that the Android version on Nokia X is a forked-one with no access to the Google Play Store. Nokia has promised that users will be able to run most Android apps but the fact that there’s no official Google support could be a deal-breaker for many.
Something that’s rarely seen in the sub-Rs 8,000 bracket is the large battery of the Moto E. The 1980 mAh battery sounds aplenty given its non-demanding hardware. So on nearly all counts, the Moto E has the better of its rivals.
While specs and price are a big plus for Moto E, the one advantage that the competitors have is that the smartphone is only available on Flipkart. It’s not a phone that you are likely to see in your local mobile store shop, someplace where you can get a chance to handle the phone, which goes a long way in spreading brand awareness as well.
The problem is that the Moto E is restricted to users who are used to or know abfout online shopping. This significantly reduces the target audience for the phone.
Of course, the impact Moto E makes on the market will only be revealed once the first sales figures are out. For now, it’s safe to say that Moto E has a lot to offer in terms of brand and specs for those who don’t want to spend a bomb on their next (or possibly first) smartphone.