Micromax is making smartphones again. The home-grown brand that once ousted Samsung to become India’s top smartphone brand on Wednesday announced two new phones that may be low in price but are riding high on nationalistic vigor. It’s not so much about the phones this time, but how Micromax seems to be approaching its second innings after being defeated in its own country by Chinese brands in 2016-17.
Speculations about Micromax attempting a fresh India comeback have been going around since June but it was only in October that we started to hear something more concrete from the brand. Co-founder Rahul Sharma has been spearheading the campaign himself, which was surprising initially because many believed that he had left the world of making smartphones to float his new next-gen mobility company Revolt Motors.
One of Micromax’s first promotional videos to hype the impending launch of its upcoming phones featured Rahul Sharma narrating his rags to riches story — his early years, his middle-class roots and how he borrowed Rs 3 lakh from his family to start Micromax. The brand’s success was touched upon and also its eventual fall. This was followed by another teaser a few days later that made things a lot clearer. There was an opportunity (anti-China sentiment) and Micromax was looking to grab it by calling on the people of India to support it, through a very catchy but also borderline racist slogan “aao karein thodi cheeni kum,” (let’s reduce the sugar).
One of the good things about Micromax is both the brand and Rahul Sharma have always been fairly vocal about their many hits and misses. They’ve been transparent and not ones to mince their words. Micromax was once a very popular brand in India but it failed due to a number of reasons.
One was that many of the products in its portfolio were in fact rebranded Chinese products (its Yu Televentures sub brand, for instance, started proceedings with rebranded Coolpad phones), and also, Micromax wasn’t very quick to foresee the 4G era. Rivals like Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo came in with more value devices with high-end specs (including 4G) and rock-bottom prices and Micromax simply failed to catch up. All of this information is out there in public domain.
The only difference this time round is that Micromax might just have taken things a little too far in trying to cash in on the wave, when it could have simply let its products do the talking because they seem nice — at least on first look.
Enter IN Note 1 and IN 1B
Micromax is launching two phones today. These are the IN Note 1 and IN 1B. The IN Note 1 starts at Rs 10,999 for the base model with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage going up to Rs 12,999 for the model with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. The IN 1B starts at Rs 6,999 for the base model with 2GB RAM and 32GB storage going up to Rs 7,999 for the model with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage.
The biggest selling point of these phones, aside from their low price, is their software. Both the phones run a stock version of Android 10. Micromax is promising a totally ad-free and bloat-free experience and two years of “assured” updates. Budget phones usually get a bad rap for their bloated software experience and pesky ads are a nuisance in many of them. The IN Note 1 and IN 1B, in a way, are closer to a certain Motorola or a Nokia in this regard relying on seemingly clean software to attract budget-conscious buyers.
Rest of the specs seem well thought out too. The IN Note 1 has a 6.67-inch 1080p+ display with a punch hole cut-out (this houses a 16MP camera), MediaTek Helio G85 processor, quad rear cameras (48MP main+5MP ultra-wide+2MP depth+2MP macro), and 5,000mAh battery with 18W fast charging. The IN 1B meanwhile has a 6.52-inch 720p+ display with a waterdrop-style notch (this houses an 8MP camera), MediaTek Helio G35 processor, dual rear cameras (13MP main+2MP depth), and 5,000mAh battery with 10W charging.
The IN Note 1 will be available from November 24 while the IN 1B will be available from November 26. Micromax has tied up with Flipkart to sell its new phones.