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Xiaomi Redmi 4A will disrupt budget smartphone market: Manu Kumar Jain

LiveMint logoLiveMint 20-03-2017 Aniek Paul

Kolkata: Xiaomi Technology India Pvt. Ltd on Monday announced the launch of an affordable smartphone, which is not only light on the pocket but is also the lightest Redmi device ever.

Priced at Rs5,999, Redmi 4A weighs only 131 grams; Xiaomi India is hoping the budget smartphone will punch much above its weight. “The device will completely disrupt the affordable smartphone market,” said managing director Manu Kumar Jain.

Half the mobile phones sold in India are priced below Rs7,000, according to Jain. Xiaomi hasn’t had a product in the segment until now.

The new phone is aimed at those buying a smartphone for the first time or upgrading from a feature phone, Jain said in a phone interview.

Sales of Redmi 4A will start on 23 March, and towards the end of March or early April, Xiaomi will start to take bookings. On Monday, Xiaomi also announced the launch of its second manufacturing line in partnership with Foxconn Technology Group.

Edited excerpts:

Why did you start a second manufacturing facility so quickly?

When we started our journey two years ago, we wanted to build a truly Indian company. And in order to achieve that we focused on two key things: make in India and design for India. Our first manufacturing line was launched in August 2015, and by March 2016, 75% of our phones sold in India were manufactured locally.

As our sales continued to grow, we felt the need for a second manufacturing line. The demand was much higher than we could address from our first manufacturing facility. Xiaomi now has its second manufacturing facility which is again owned and operated by our partner Foxconn, similar to our first factory.

Between these two plants located near Chennai, we are employing 5,000 people from across 100 villages, and more than 90% of these workers are women. We see this as empowerment of women, and we are very happy about it. And in terms of capacity, we can now produce one phone per second, not counting the down time when the factory is shut or has a change in shifts.

Also Read | Xiaomi Redmi 4A poised to be a good, affordable Android phone?

What is the current share of phones manufactured in India?

We have in the past year raised the share of locally manufactured phones to 95%, and going forward we expect to firmly maintain this level even with sales growing rapidly. Only if we had a big sale, we will import from China, but otherwise everything we sell in India will be manufactured in India.

What are consumer insights that led to Redmi 4A?

We looked at our consumer base and realised that 85% of our consumers are young people in the age group of 16 to 34. For people in this age group, affordability is a big thing. Many are college students or are at their first jobs. We also realised that 50% of the Indian mobile market is sub-Rs7,000, which is the price at which the cheapest Redmi phone is currently sold.

Why did you not enter this segment yet?

We have not entered this half of the market till now because we did not have a device that could deliver the same consumer experience that people expect from us. But we now have a device which will address the needs of Indian consumers, particularly of those people for whom affordability is a big issue. We have named it Redmi 4A—A to reflect top grade.

How is Redmi 4A different?

We went to consumers to understand what they want, and found that they expect 6-7 things from a phone priced at Rs6,000. They want a strong processor, so we are providing a Snapdragon 425 processor, which is much faster than competing phones. We are providing 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage, which is almost twice what competitors are offering.

Also, young people want a powerful battery. Whereas most phones in this price range come with a battery of 2,000-2,500 mAh, we are providing a 3,120 mAh battery, which will last a day. And despite a big battery, the device weighs only 131.5 grams—the lightest Redmi device till date. And it is only 8.55mm thick. Plus it has a five-inch HD display and a 13-megapixel camera.

Will it not undermine sales of other Xiaomi phones?

We don’t think of this as a continuation or replacement of our Redmi 3S or Redi 3S Prime. The successor to this series will be launched soon, but I cannot commit to a time frame immediately. I believe all these three series will run side by side because they are targeted at different buyers.

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