When the Nokia 2 was launched at the end of October, it brought with it promise. In India, affordability and value for money is king, and the Nokia 2 was a promise of exactly that. Priced at Rs 6,999 now that it has been officially made available in India, there’s a lot on offer with the Nokia 2. You get a phone built of aluminum, and sporting a battery that promises to keep going through the day. In a country where running electricity is still a luxury, and usage conditions are rough, both of those things come in handy.
Indeed, another thing that works for the Nokia 2 is the brand name in itself. Although now controlled by HMD Global and built in Foxconn manufacturing plants, the new Android-based Nokia smartphones still represent the same values of the Nokia of the past. The Nokia 2 sticks to that reliability and offers an attractive package for buyers who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a new smartphone. Like I said, it’s a phone that brings with it promise.
Unfortunately for Nokia, barely a week after its launch in India comes another smartphone that completely upstages it. The Xiaomi Redmi 5A, with its aggressive pricing and value on offer indeed appears to be the budget smartphone for the Indian mass market, and appropriately pitches itself as the ‘Desh ka Smartphone’. While there are definite arguments to be made in favor of a Nokia over a Xiaomi, there are some that can be made the other way as well. I personally believe that Xiaomi’s offering is more appropriate for India’s booming smartphone revolution.
The biggest of these arguments is the specification sheet. At a price that is Rs 1,000 less than that of the Nokia 2 (Rs 2,000 less if you consider that the entry-level Redmi 5A is currently being discounted to Rs 4,999), the Xiaomi Redmi 5A is a better-specced smartphone. You get twice as much RAM, twice as much internal storage and a better system-on-chip in the form of the Snapdragon 425. The Nokia 2 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 212, which I personally believe need not even exist, let alone be used on a smartphone that costs Rs 6,999.
In India, specifications are everything. It’s very easy to talk numbers, and convincing even a novice buyer that 2GB of RAM is better than 1GB is easy. Nokia will make more complex arguments in this matter, and indeed the Nokia 2 may well be capable of reliable performance even with less RAM. But the numbers matter the most, and the price difference and higher specs are all it takes to convince someone.
The brand name, of course, matters as well. Nokia is a name that we’ve all heard of through the years. It has recognition, power and a reputation of reliability behind it. Indeed, if you had to offer two identical phones to me with each bearing a brand name, I’d likely pick the Nokia option. That, along with the metal build and big battery, are key aspects that make the Nokia an attractive choice.
And while three years ago a competition on brand value between Nokia and Xiaomi may have been an obvious contest, the same can’t be said today. Xiaomi has come a long way in three years, and is today arguably the top-selling smartphone maker in India. Indian smartphone buyers have already shown that they are willing to embrace Xiaomi’s online-first sales model, and the strong pricing of the Chinese company’s products makes it easier to convince yourself to buy one. The company has even addressed its concerns when it comes to after-sales service.
So if you’re concerned with long battery life or just want your phone to look and feel good, you’ll find the Nokia 2 appealing to you. However, the Xiaomi Redmi 5A is the better value proposition, and is indeed the budget champion that Indian buyers need right now.