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BW Businessworld

Mobile Phone Market: Betting On Black

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Though the Xolo Black has its attractions, it is born into a world of intense competition, writes Mala Bhargava
The fact that the mobile market is become saturated isn’t stopping companies from launching them. A single week can see several launch events, with each aiming desperately for some distinction from the intense competition around it. Xolo has more than its work cut out of it, but since about 45 per cent of the market is taken up by non-Apple and non-Samsung phones, they’re not about to miss out on the action. Recently, Xolo of Lava Moblies launched a phone it simply calls "Black." That helps it stick to one colour and also makes it sound premium, like Uber’s Black, the top-end cars you can call for. Black is a sub-brand of sorts, so one can expect more models with the Black tag.
The look of the phone is premiumish, but take off the logo and it looks like a Sony Xperia something. A big 5.5-inch glass slab. The plastic sides contrast with the glassy front and back and definitely take away from the overall look a little. That said, the Xolo Black, the Sony glass slab costs upwards of Rs 40,000 while the new Black costs a mere Rs 12,999. Expensive flagship phones are really being given a run for their money – or rather, our money – by those who rip off what they’re offering and give it to consumers at a rock bottom price.
There’s something a little less than comfortable about the Black. Perhaps it should have been narrower for the prominence of its edges or perhaps it just doesn’t have enough curves and tapers. The back is non openable and that means you can’t get at its 3,200 mAh battery.
But then honestly I think it’s time users let go of the fixation over removable batteries because few people really do this on a regular basis. With so many solid portable power banks around, swapping batteries is hardly a way of keeping a phone charged up. Besides, how do you put in one battery and charge the other in the meanwhile? The Black has one peculiar quirk. The nonfiction light is actually the power button. That takes a little getting used to. This is a dual-SIM device, but the options are micro and nano SIMs with the SIM2 slot doubling up as a micro-SD card slot. It’s 4G compatible.
The Xolo Black has a Full-HD screen which is pleasant enough and has great colours and viewing angles, but isn’t exceptionally crisp and finessed. It is Corning Gorilla Glass 3, but if you’re an inveterate phone-dropper, be careful.
The Black is not short on hardware specs. It works on a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor and 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage expandable up to 32GB with microSD card. And what the device does with these specs is to deliver very smooth performance. There wasn’t any lag and it multi-tasked just fine and didn’t eat up the battery in the process. But it does have an annoying tendency to be slow to unlock.
To give the Black its due, it has a set of 13MP and 2MP rear cameras that can work together to sense depth if you use the dedicated app. In fact, the phone has two camera apps, which can be a bit confusing.
Artificially created blur looks artificial though, and phone companies are probably making much more of a fuss over this feature than is warranted by user demand. It doesn’t satisfy true photography buffs and for casual shooters, it isn’t an essential feature at all. The front camera, which has a flash, is 5MP which also is value for the price.
Though the Black has its attractions, it’s born into a world of intense competition, including from the slighter cheaper and well recognised Moto G, launched just days later. Despite offering strong specs, the Black is up against a very popular brand like Motorola, not to mention Micromax’s Yu Yureka phone, several Xiaomi phones and the Zenfones from Asus that also include well-built feature-rich phones.