Saturday, August 10, 2013

The smartphone round up

Recently I had an urge to upgrade my phone. So spent some time analyzing the phone market and this post lists some of my findings. Might be useful if you're also hunting for a phone

I thought I can spend about 20k on my new phone. First thing I did was to share an update and solicit advise from my friends on twitter and fb. The suggestions left me even more confusing. Friends suggesting extending my budget and go for Nexus, Lenovo P series or Nokia 820. I thought about it for a moment and then deciding against extending my budget. Phones loose value quickly. Ask those who might have spent 25-30k on a N73, N80 kind of phones 2-3 years ago. Most of them would have got peanuts as resale value for those phones now, though one the day of purchase, they would have got huge applause from peer group.

Spent some time analyzing the mobile phones and prices. I eliminated Nokia and apple, hence my choices were down to Android phones, mainly Samsung and Sony. I had my eyes set on Samsung Grand, followed by couple of Lenovo models and Sony Xperia range. Decided to pay a visit to physical showrooms to get a feel of the phone.

My first visit was to a Lenovo showroom in Kandanchavdi area. They didn't have any phones on display. Except Univercell, other chains like Poorvika and Sangeetha do not store Lenovo phones and models. Though I'd liked the ruggedness of Lenovo, had to eliminate it because of poor sales and after sales support.

The Mobile store, which once used to be good, hardly had any live units. Sales guy showed me a plastic box which represented Lumina 720 and told me the price. How am I supposed to decide on spending 20k, without feeling the actual phone? When I questioned him, he gave me his personal phone, a Nokia 520 and said this is similar.

At Univercell, I asked how much my current phone is worth. It is an 18 month old Samsung Corby, with the then purchase price of Rs 6000+. After looking up in his computer, I was told it is worth Rs 1000. So that is a depreciation of 84% over 18 months. Because of this, I had second thoughts about spending 20k and brought my budget down to 10-15k. 3-4 years ago I had the temptation to buy the then hot pieces- N73, N80 and similar ones. I am glad I didn't buy any of those and settled for a cheaper one.

Sony Xperia U was the one which caught my attention. It was priced Rs 11599 on flipkart. This phone has some drawbacks- slightly older OS, no expandable memory, Only 512 MB RAM (11 years ago, my desktop computer had only 256MB RAM), single SIM and No Gorilla glass. But I found rest of the features and price tag tempting. Because there's no end to spending and I am not an extreme user,  I decided to take a shot at this phone. This may not get me any peer recognition, but seem to be a decent Entry-Mid level android phone. Instead of spending 20-25k now, let me upgrade next year again, if required.

Armed with this information, I went to checkout how much this phone is priced in different showrooms. Univercell quoted Rs 12999, about 11% more than flipkart. Sangeeta and Poorvika didn't have this model. They claimed Sony has discontinued this model and showed me few other Xperia models- E and E Dual. Poorvika had a price tag even more than what was mentioned in Sony's brochure. They claimed prices have increased recently. None of the physical stores, the most popular ones, could match the price offered by Flipkart on any of the model. When I mentioned that Flipkart prices are much lower, this is what Poorvika Perungudi sales person told me "Sir Flipkart sells gray market stuff, service centres won't service your phones if you buy it at flipkart". I knew that it was not true, so I left the showroom without much discussion.

Few other comparisons-
Lenovo A800: Rs 9999 with flipkart but Rs 11399 at Univercell.
Sony Xperia E: Rs 9300 at Poorvika, Rs 8199 at Flipkart
Samsung Grand: Rs 19500 at The Mobile Store, Univercell, Rs 19000 online
Xperia L; Rs 17500 at Univercell, Rs 16140 online

We should recognize that physical stores need to spend lots of money on rent, staff salary, marketing etc. All this has to come from the customers only and hence they need to price it higher compared to an online store. When we bought our TV, we picked it up from a wholesale shop, who didn't have fancy showroom. We paid Rs 500 less compared to the price tag at Viveks

I've placed an order online with flipkart and the wait has started.