Abhimanyu GhoshalManaging Editor
Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and culture. Hit him up on Twitter, or write in: [email protected].
Xiaomi has just announced its first 4G mobile device in India, dubbed the Redmi Note 4G, with sales slated to begin in December. It has partnered with mobile carrier Airtel to sell the smartphone in their retail stores, in addition to its online local flash sales with Flipkart.
The Chinese smartphone manufacturer is slated to begin selling two variants of the Redmi Note in December: the Redmi Note (with 3G support) and the Redmi Note 4G. Apart from 4G LTE capabilities and processors, the devices are essentially physically identical.
The dual-SIM Redmi Note runs Android Jelly Bean 4.2 and sports an 8-core MediaTek MT6592 1.7GHz processor, the Mali-450 GPU, 2GB LPDDR3 RAM and 8GB flash memory with microSD storage expansion up to 32GB. It also features a 5.5″ IPS 720p display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, a 3,100mAh removable, 2A fast charging Li-ion polymer battery, a 13 megapixel f/2.2 28mm wide angle rear camera and a 5 megapixel front camera.
Registrations to buy the 3G Redmi Note in India from Flipkart begin today at 6PM IST, and those who sign up will be able to make their purchase on Dec 2 at $145 (Rs. 8,999). Xiaomi India head Manu Jain says about 50,000 devices will be made available for the first flash sale, with that number ramping up for subsequent sales.
The Redmi Note 4G shares most of its specs with the Redmi Note, but it runs the more recent Android KitKat 4.4 and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8928 1.6GHz processor. This phone also supports 64GB microSD cards and a single SIM card. This device works with both 4G bands in India: FDD-LTE (Band 3 – 1800 MHz) and TDD-LTE (Band 40 – 2300 MHz) and also runs on 2G and 3G networks.
This device will be sold in the second half of December on Flipkart and also through Airtel’s retail outlets, where users can purchase the device, get 4G SIM cards and activate their new mobile plans right in the store, after registering for a time slot online. The Redmi Note 4G is priced at $161 (Rs. 9,999).
The 4G device has been specifically made for India, where mobile users most commonly purchase unlocked devices and have the option to switch carriers while retaining their phone number. Additionally, the Redmi Note 4G supports both 4G bands to allow users across the country to access the high-speed network. Xiaomi demonstrated download speeds of 29Mbps over a live network in Bangalore.
It’s worth noting that 4G coverage in India is still in the works; it’s currently available only from Airtel in Bangalore, Kolkata and a few small cities like Pune and Nagpur. Airtel plans to roll out 4G across other major cities like New Delhi and Mumbai over the next six months.
Xiaomi has customized both the Redmi Note and Redmi Note 4G for India, with version 5.1 of SwiftKey’s third-party keyboard that supports 13 Indian languages including Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hinglish, Kannada, Malayalam and more, and even Sinhala, Urdu, and Nepali for users across the Indian subcontinent. Plus, Xiaomi has also developed custom downloadable themes for its MIUI interface based on Cricket and Indian festivals — and there’s even a Bollywood-oriented theme slated for a December release.
Both devices will likely shake things up in India’s mid-range and high-end phablet market, as they are very competitively priced and feature impressive specs. However, what will be especially worth watching is how the Redmi Note 4G does, as the network is new to India and data plans for its high-speed service are only available to Airtel customers who opt to be billed monthly.
Many mobile users in the country prefer pay-as-you-go plans, and a number of new services allow them to recharge their plans online and through mobile apps, so it’s possible that the dual-SIM Redmi Note will outsell the Redmi Note 4G in India, at least initially. However, the low cost of the 4G device might increase demand for 4G service, so we’ll keep watching to see if other carriers catch up soon in the country.
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