The Sony Xperia E3, the first mid-range Android KitKat phone from the Japanese brand, will be launched in India next week at a price of Rs 16,000, according to distributors.
UPDATE: The phone has been launched at an MRP of Rs 13,000 as Sony has tried to recapture the market in India.
It will be one of Sony India’s fastest launches, and no doubt some of the urgency is because of the run-away success of the Xiaomi Mi3 and Redmi 1S in recent days. In fact, India is very likely to be the first market in the world where the Xperia E3 is going to be launched. Internationally, the phone will be priced around $200 mark.
The phone was announced just a week ago with the tag line: “The fun and fast smartphone that brings you flagship experiences without the price tag.”
Of course, if you have been following Sony, you know that “affordable” in Sony’s lingo doesn’t really translate as “affordable” for Indian consumers. It’s more like ‘mid range’ for us here.
So it’s no surprise that the affordable phone from Sony is going to be priced at Rs 16,000, or about 30% higher than what something with similar specifications from Lenovo would be available for in India. A case in point is the “mid range” Xperia C3 that was launched last week.
The phone has been priced at a steep Rs 22,800 in India, nearly double of what other similar models are available in India for. Not surprisingly, fans have been pouring scorn over the phone in online retail listings.
To quote Flipkart reviewer Anshul: “Sony please think a little bit, R u really doing justice to indian consumers when there is MOTO G(Better Display, Water Proof, android 4.4 support from google) and lot of indian players(like micromax,karbonn,lava ,xolo) ???”
Now you get the idea.
But still, the Xperia E3 is going to be cheaper, and more value for money. After all, the ‘E’ in the E3 is supposed to signify ‘economy’, is it not?
Another thing to be noted is that the first E series phone, the E1, is available for Rs 7,100. As a result, the E3 is finally likely to be available on online stores such as Snapdeal for about Rs 15,000 in two weeks of launch.
Frankly, the phone is not aimed at people who are heavily swayed by specifications. Instead, it is targeted at those who want a smaller phone with the brand and service support of Sony. In addition, the phone, as Sony says in its press release, is targeted at the ‘affordable’ category.
But being the first mid range phone from Sony with the latest Android KitKat 4.4 OS does make the E3 noteworthy.
The Xperia comes with a 4.5-inch, 854 x 480 pixel IPS display and a Snapdragon 400 series quad-core 1.2 GHz A7 processor. RAM, or application memory, is 1 GB, and the camera is 5 megapixels at the back, and VGA at the front. However, it the back-camera does record full HD video.
While the overseas models come with LTE 4G, the Indian version, which will support dual SIM, is likely to come with only 3G.
“Xperia E3 is beautifully crafted and makes a style statement right out of the box. Being both slim and lightweight, the phone is conveniently designed for easy use with just one hand, meaning that all of your multi-tasking issues are eliminated. The phone also enables you to express your individual style, as it is available in a range of striking, standout colours including white, black, lime, and copper (colours may vary by market).
“Whilst most devices begin to deteriorate through wear and tear, the corners on Xperia E3 are designed to prevent scratches in case of an unexpected bump. Teamed with a scratch-resistant screen made of durable tempered glass, E3 will keep looking smart and shiny for longer so you can continue to show it off,” Sony said, while announcing the launch in the recently held IFA at Berlin.
The phone also has a 2330 mAh battery with Battery STAMINA Mode that is supposed to enhance battery life by 14%.
So, will it work out for Sony in the ‘affordable’ aka ‘mid range’ category with this launch?
Frankly, we believe brands like Sony and Samsung need to rethink their strategy (and their margins) in the post-Xiaomi era. While none expects them to subsidize their handsets, they might have to trim down their profit margins (which reportedly are more than decent) and distributor commissions if they are to compete in today’s market.
Samsung has already taken a first step by choosing to go with Flipkart for its Galaxy S5 Mini launch, thereby keeping the price at around Rs 26,000. Sony is not planning an online-only launch, according to our sources, which will restrict its pricing freedom.
On the other hand, given that the E series is supposed to be all about affordability, we wouldn’t be surprised if Sony chooses to debut this model at Rs 14,000-15,000 range as well. Who knows, competition, and the poor ratings it got for the C3, may nudge the Japanese giant to price the phone aggressively.