Last year’s POCO F1 (review) took the smartphone market by storm by offering the full performance of a flagship-grade Snapdragon 845 SoC for as low as INR 20,000. With the Redmi K20 and Redmi K20 Pro, fans expected this formula to be repeated as is. Unfortunately, the launch of these two phones in China made it clear that this would not be the case. And now that the phones have been unveiled in India, fans are even more disappointed and frustrated with Xiaomi as the price for two handsets is a fair bit higher in the country as it is in China.
For context, the newly launched Redmi K20 Pro starts off at INR 21,999. The POCO F1 which launched at a starting price of 19,999 now retails for INR 17,999. Meanwhile, the highest storage model of the popular Redmi Note & Pro costs INR 16,999. Many are of the opinion that the higher pricing of the Redmi K20 was a deliberate move to ensure Xiaomi still manages to sell its existing offerings in the country.
Amongst this controversy, the folks over at Gadgets 360 managed to have a word with Xiaomi’s Global VP, Manu Kumar Jain to clarify why the phone maker was relatively more aggressive with the pricing of the Redmi K20 Pro but not the Redmi K20, and whether this was indeed a deliberate decision to ensure the company still sells its other sub-20k offerings.
Jain refutes the claims of this being a sale tactic and instead pointed at the use of the new Snapdragon 730 chipset on the Redmi K20 to be the key reason for its higher pricing. According to Jain, “Snapdragon 730 is not a cheap chipset — it’s fairly expensive, if you can go and ask Qualcomm.” By being one of the first smartphones to arrive with this processor, it was apparently quite expensive for Xiaomi to source these processors from Qualcomm. He goes on to say that the comparison being made by the masses is unfair as they are not taking into account that these other more affordable phones make use of older Snapdragon 700 series chips whose value has depreciated over time.
Jain’s Open Letter to Mi Fans
— Manu Kumar Jain (@manukumarjain) July 18, 2019
With the Redmi K20 price in India controversy becoming the only thing anyone can talk about, Manu Jain released an open letter where he reaffirms his previous statements and further clarifies how the company had to settle at this price. While we won’t go into everything mentioned in his letter, the gist of it is:
1. The Redmi K20 comes with pretty much all the same premium features you find on the Redmi K20 Pro, and the only difference is in the chipset used (Snapdragon 730 instead of Snapdragon 855). Since both of these are brand new processors, they are expensive to manufacture and source. The company had the choice of either sourcing older/cheaper chipsets, wait for six months for the new chipsets’ prices to go down, or go ahead and give customers the latest tech possible.
2. Then comes the reason for pricing the phones higher in India when compared to China. Essentially, Xiaomi’s Indian manufacturing plants had to be upgraded to accommodate for local manufacturing, and even then, 35% of parts have to be imported because of how complicated they are. Xiaomi has to pay additional import taxes for this.
POCO Launcher On Redmi K20, K20 Pro Means No Ads
At a sperate press briefing, Jain confirmed that the Redmi K20 and Redmi K20 Pro won’t show ads to its users as they run the POCO launcher instead of the standard MIUI ROM. Just like the POCO F1, the Redmi K20 series devices won’t have ads baked into their system apps the way one would find on standard builds of MIUI. Is this one of the underlying reasons as to why the prices of the K20 phones are seemingly higher? This seems unlikely to us as the brand managed to offer the POCO F1 without ads at such a low price and had no discernible problems in doing so.
At the end of the day, at least we don’t have to deal with the annoying ads on the K20 series handsets. It is also reassuring to know that Xiaomi will be cutting down on the amount of ads with MIUI 11 for all of its other smartphones.