In the last few years, India has emerged as one of the world’s most lucrative markets for smartphone manufacturers. It’s for this reason that big brands are scrambling to set up shop in Indian cities, and are attempting to woo the Indian buyer with devices that are big on performance but light on the pocket. But that isn’t enough. To rule the market, a smartphone manufacturer must know how to capture it. High performance and affordability are the givens. What adds value to a device is something that you can’t put your finger on—an X-factor that separates the best smartphone from a mass of mediocrity. In 2018, the world’s best smartphone brands are aiming to achieve just that level of excellence and exclusiveness with their new launches. Guardian 20 reached out to some of them to ask about how the industry will change in the next few quarters, and here’s what they had to say.
Managing director, Motorola Mobility India
“Motorola has been ahead of the game. We triggered the future of mobility with our modular technology and opened the world of limitless possibilities with the Moto Z series. As the market continues to grow and customers evolve, customer experience is going to be the key factor that will drive innovation in the smartphone industry in 2018. The three features that are visible and will continue are long-lasting batteries, smarter cameras and more premium design language. We will continue to delight our customers with real innovation and products that offer meaningful experiences”.
President, HTC South Asia
“Smartphones will act as an interface for other devices. 2018 will lead to the extension and refinement of existing technologies from design, AR/VR, AI and IoT space and will deeply integrate with smartphones. The entire user experience will be based on predictive and adaptive technologies.”
Co-founder, Micromax Informatics
“There is an exciting time ahead for smartphones in 2018. In 2018, Micromax is gearing up for more made-in-India phones. Smartphones that are aesthetic, have best in class specs—be it the camera capabilities, the screen, the battery or software capabilities, a buffed-up consumer electronic product portfolio, consumer focused partnerships. Bezel-less screens will become more mainstream, facial recognition, powerful battery phones and lighter version of Android will reignite the market and help get millions of new users get access to better spec smartphones.”
Director, Samsung India
“There will be advanced Bixby in our upcoming phones. There will be a lot many innovations and we would like to keep that as a surprise for our customers. The year 2018 will be a very interesting year for Samsung. Some big new flagships are coming up in the next couple of weeks.”
President & CEO, India & South Asia, Panasonic
“Smartphones continually are becoming the sole gadget of reliance for many individuals and will soon become the major propagator of IoT [Internet of Things] in the country. During the last 3-4 years, smartphone manufacturers have also focused extensively on the hardware shaping the physical attributes. Today, software comprising applications and user-interface (UI) has become the deciding factor to upgrade yourself to the next level of technology. The evolution of technology software has opened endless opportunities. In 2018, customers will continue to look for technology which will shape the product interface and the way we interact with our smartphones. With that specific focus in mind, last year, Panasonic India launched its AI smartphone powered by its virtual assistant Arbo. We have been receiving an overwhelming response to the same and will continue to unveil new products this year too.”
Vice president, sales, Huawei Consumer Business Group
“Technological advancements have transformed the smartphone industry, making it more dynamic and competitive with every passing year. 2018, too, will be no different, as there is an onset of new innovations in the tech sector, with special mention given to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Be it decoding the user behaviour, or allocating resources and space—AI applies the neural-processing technique which enables image-recognition, language translation and fuels the handset for quick sensory responses. To do this, Honor leverages its own homegrown R&D, and therefore dedicatedly, over the years, has delivered multimedia budget superstar phones which are incorporated with cutting-edge features, like the quad-camera, robust Kirin 970 processor, EMUI 8.0 user interface amongst others. In 2018, then, AI definitely presents an infinite playfield for the smartphone industry to experiment. Ultimately, it is about being realistically futuristic, wherein both the resources and efforts are balanced out.”
MD, Transsion India
“Among the most important developments for 2018 is Android Go, the latest effort by Google to help the launch of budget-friendly smartphones. The OS is designed to run on smartphones that have 1GB or less of RAM, with a focus on data management. We believe that this will help immensely in developing markets like India, giving a boost to entry- and mid-level smartphones. Dual-camera capture technology is likely to also feature in a wider variety of phones, and in 2018, more budget phones shall offer this technology. Full displays, bigger screen sizes, and bezel-less screens with an 18:9 aspect ratio will also become more popular, buoyed by their inclusion into more affordable mid-range smartphones in 2018. Bigger and more powerful batteries, while maintaining a slim, pocket-friendly (literally, not in terms of expense) size will also be a trend in 2018.”