On Wednesday, Dell launched the XPS 13 9300 and XPS 15 9500 in India. These laptops mark the most premium product offering from the company in India right now. With these devices, Dell is targeting those working from home or creating from home. Dell XPS 13, which is the flagship offering from the company, is not even a new device. However, it is such an incredible product that it has spurred a lot of excitement. However, one product seems to be missing in this lineup, which could have created a premium ensemble. Yes, I’m talking about the XPS 17. Also Read - Dell XPS 13, XPS 15 with 10th gen Intel Core processors launched in India: Price, Specifications
Dell launched the XPS 13 9300 at CES 2020 as the first device with a four-sided InfinityEdge display. The idea here is to shrink the bezels on all the four sides. If you are following the developments around XPS lineup over the past five years then you would note that the company has not really bothered to eliminate the chin. This time around, the chin is also smaller, allowing for a 13-inch laptop in a 11-inch form factor. Dell is a classic PC company, where it designs one excellent product and brings that design down to other products. That design philosophy culminated in the form of XPS 15 9500 and XPS 17 9700 in May. Also Read - Mi Notebook 14 vs HP 14s vs Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 vs Dell Inspirion 14: Price in India, specs compared
Dell XPS 17: Powerful yet portable
Even though XPS 13 9300 is coming six months late to India, Dell is not wasting any time bringing the XPS 15 9500. So, I asked Dell why the XPS 17 is not being launched in the country. Is it because there is no market for such a device? Anand Subramanya, Director, Product Marketing, Consumer and Small Business, Dell Technologies India, said there is a market for a large-screen device aimed at creative professionals. “Dell XPS 17 is an opportunity and there is a market for creative professionals,” he told me on a Zoom call.
Earlier, during an online product launch briefing, Subramanya hinted at bringing the product to the country. He explains that devices like Dell XPS 17 are generally seen as desktop replacement but the device goes far beyond that use case. He explained that by eliminating the bezels and switching to the new thermal design, Dell has managed to build the most powerful yet portable laptop. There is a possibility that Dell will first examine the response to XPS 15 9500 before bringing the XPS 17 9700. One thing is certain: it will be one of the most expensive laptops from the company in India.
Speaking of the XPS lineup being launched in India, Subramanya said that Dell is “striving to achieve optimal balance” in the market. The PC market seems to have received new blood due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created new scenarios for work as well as learning. A large percentage of the working population is now at home and embracing the work from home or remote work culture. In such a scenario, technology is supposed to help people and not be the obstacle. Dell says XPS lineup is about taking technology away from the equation and making it work seamlessly for the consumers.
Impact of COVID-19
“The situation has opened for technology products to become more valuable for consumers,” Subramanya added. According to IDC, Dell was the second major PC brand in India at the end of first quarter of this year. However, it witnessed a 16.5 percent decline in its overall shipments during the quarter due to COVID-19 lockdown around the world and supply chain impact in China. The company also had a recent struggle in India where it’s shipments from China were blocked at a port in Chennai. The company declined to comment on the situation but Foxconn has confirmed that customs situation has been resolved.
India is a mobile-first country where a large number of consumers experience the internet for the first time on a mobile device. Subramanya told me that the pandemic has shown the real significance of a computing device like a laptop. With XPS, he says Dell is delivering “performance based products to the market”. Xiaomi, which recently entered the laptop market with its Mi Notebook range, is also seeing a similar trend. The company told BGR India that it has been working on laptop lineups for the country since 2019. However, the timing of the launch turned into an opportune moment.
Xiaomi’s entry in the laptop market
Xiaomi is competing with Dell in the portable consumer laptop segment. Starting at Rs 1,44,807 including GST, Dell XPS 13 9300 costs nearly three times as much as the Mi Notebook 14 Horizon Edition. Dell, however, does not seem to be worried about the new entrant. Subramanya says Xiaomi’s entry is an opportunity for existing players to strengthen their product portfolio and show their leadership in the segment for decades. While Dell has more affordable models in the Inspiron series, the XPS lineup has become synonymous with Dell’s engineering prowess. It is the product that integrates best minds at the company, where its design, engineering or user experience.
Subramanya added that Dell will compete on its superior product portfolio. He also believes that incumbents will challenge Xiaomi with their market expertise more than iterative product offerings. “Xiaomi has some plus points in terms of the overall presence in the market and overall connection in the market, especially in the offline market. I don’t think Xiaomi will be able to connect easily in the offline retail segment,” said Jaipal Singh, Associate Research Manager, Client Devices at IDC India. Dell, on the other hand, can not only tap into the offline retail channels but also use its wide experience in the enterprise market for the new XPS devices.
Dell has also confirmed that the creator edition models, the ones with high-end internals, excellent color accuracy, will also be available in India. These models are aimed at creative professionals and send a message that the specifications are tailored for them. In the US, Dell offers two XPS 17 9700 models with the Creator Edition badge and we could see these devices make their way to India soon. As Director of Product Marketing, Subramanya also revealed that the company works with both Intel and AMD for its devices. However, for the XPS lineup, it deemed Intel’s 10th generation Core processors to be the best and most powerful. He also added that the company will continue working with AMD on other products.
He also said that Intel’s recent hiccups with product updates did not affect Dell’s plans directly. However, he does see a big shift in computing as remote work is set to become the new normal post the pandemic. Subramanya also told BGR India that new form factors like dual-screen design based on Intel’s Twin River platform will take at least two years to reach the market. With the Lakefield Hybrid CPUs based on Intel’s FoverOS architecture, Dell will be among the first to introduce these new form factors. Subramanya, however, did not seem very much enthused about these new designs in the short term. For now, Dell seems to have pushed the boundary when it comes to premium laptop design. We will need to see whether the needle shifts in its direction when consumers go online to buy new laptops for work or to learn at home.