Here’s why the Pixel 3a isn’t made for the Indian market
Months ago, there were reports that Google was working on a ‘budget phone’ that would compete with the likes of OnePlus; the forebearer of premium phones in India. Fast forward to yesterday when Google actually unveiled not just one but two budget phones. But the problem lies with the nomenclature of them being budget phones. Here, in India, numbers play a huge role. And for the Pixel 3a family, everything is working against it, atleast on paper.
A game of numbers
Being descendants of Aryabhatta, Indians care a lot about numbers. So much so, that while buying phones, numbers like RAM, battery capacity, megapixels, processor speed amongst other factors influence the final decision more than anything else. No one really cares about how well the phone is optimised, how good the camera sensor is, or which storage standard (eMMC or UFS) the phone makes use of.
With a plethora of excellent options available in the budget segment, the Pixel 3a stands to be an unattractive outsider.
This is precisely why the Pixel 3a won’t even get a second look from most consumers in India. The tweet below is the perfect representation of how the Indian audience makes decisions while buying a new phone. Whichever phone offers the highest numbers at the most affordable price, becomes the ‘weapon’ of choice. This has been proved by phones like the Redmi Note 7 Pro, Realme 3 Pro and the very popular Poco F1. A majority, isn’t ready to pay more when they get most of the features at a fraction of the price.
— Beebom (@beebomco) May 8, 2019
The upcoming OnePlus 7 adds fuel to the fire
OnePlus has very strategically positioned itself in India for offering the latest & greatest at a price that is much more affordable than any other flagship phone with the same internals. That along with its fan-favourite OxygenOS, and OnePlus has become the most popular phone in the ‘premium’ segment.
These are the renders of the upcoming #OnePlus7Pro in Nebula Blue and Black. What do you think about the new blue colour? We love it!
— EOTO Tech (@EOTONow) May 2, 2019
The OnePlus 7 Pro will have the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 855, up to 12GB of RAM, a 90Hz fluid AMOLED Display, a triple-camera setup and a better-looking glass and aluminium body. With its expected price of INR 49,999, it makes the Pixel 3a XL (that retails for INR 44,999) seem unsubstantial.
The 3a XL has a mid-range Snapdragon 660, 4GB of RAM, a single camera, and a ‘boring’ design with a polycarbonate body. For someone comparing specs on paper, the OnePlus 7 Pro and the OnePlus 7 seem to be a much better deal than the Pixel 3a XL and the Pixel 3a. And the fact that people think so, means that Google hasn’t been able to market their phones well.
Failure in branding the Pixel series
If you’re a technology jock, you’ll know that Pixel phones are actually pretty exciting devices. From being the first ones to taste new features & updates to having exceptional cameras (inspite of simple hardware), the devices actually have a lot to offer. The Pixel series of phones has also been the launching ground of fan-favourite features that were then copied by other OEMs (Night Sight, being the prime example).
But unfortunately, Google hasn’t been too successful at marketing the “Pixel Experience”. Users, while buying an Apple phone, tend not to pay attention to numbers like RAM & megapixels. This is purely because of how consistent Apple has been in providing an indulgent experience even on ‘minimal’ hardware. And unlike, most Android OEMs, Apple never focussed on hardware numbers to sell the phone. It was always about the experience! While Android isn’t that efficient at using hardware, the Pixel phones are wonderfully optimised to work well with the given hardware.
Some early reviews point out at how well the Pixel 3a performs even without having top-of-the-line specs. But given the phone’s price (import duty’s the culprit here) and the fact that the Indian market doesn’t really understand (or care about) the Pixel experience, it will be a really difficult sell in India.
But for users worldwide, the Pixel 3a stands to be an excellent device that delivers an outstanding camera experience for a reasonable price. Only if Indians didn’t care about numbers and only if the Pixel Experience was marketed better………..