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MWC 2017: Chinese phone makers playing second fiddle

Chinese phone makers are climbing up the ladder in terms of market share and global shipments, but at the MWC 2017 they are not aggressive enough

The Alcatel A5 is a modular phone, which comes with smart accessories that work on similar lines as the mods in Moto Z smartphones.
The Alcatel A5 is a modular phone, which comes with smart accessories that work on similar lines as the mods in Moto Z smartphones.

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017 in Barcelona saw some of the oldest phonemakers, which many critics had written off at one time, announce their upcoming phones. Despite being reduced into the shadows of Microsoft and trudging with its Windows Phone OS for years, Nokia is looking for a revival, while BlackBerry is making yet another attempt with an Android phone.

Amid all this, Chinese phonemakers such as Gionee, TCL and Nubia have been showing their new phones. Though Oppo showed a sleek phone with 5x zoom camera, it was only a concept and may not show up any time soon. Surprisingly, we haven’t seen anything so far from major Chinese companies such as Vivo, Xiaomi, Coolpad, Meizu and LeEco.

Here’s a look at some of the smartphones showcased at MWC by Gionee, TCL and Nubia which will be launched in the next few months.

Gionee A1 Plus

Gionee A1 Plus is a metal-clad smartphone with grey and mocha gold colour options. It is 9.3mm thick but tips the scales at 226g. The phone’s weight can be attributed to the fact that it offers a truly big 6-inch (1920 x 1080p) display. It runs Android Nougat (7.0) with Gionee’s Amigo UI over it. The phone is powered by MediaTek’s powerful Helio P25 processor octa-core chip with 4GB RAM and a 4,550mAh battery. It provides 64GB internal storage and up to 256GB expandable storage. For better audio output, the phone comes with embedded Waves MaxxAudio processing chip. The phone offers dual camera module with 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel cameras on the back. The A1 Plus will be available for April 2017 at €499 (approximately Rs35,284). At this price, it will compete with OnePlus 3T and Huawei’s P9.

Alcatel A5

Just when we though the modular design phones were on their way out, phone maker TCL has joined the bandwagon. The Alcatel A5 is a modular phone which comes with smart accessories that work on similar lines as the mods in Moto Z smartphones. These mods can be snapped on the back panel to boost the phone’s battery, camera and audio performance.

In this case, there is a speaker mod to get more out of the phone’s audio. Then there is a battery mod with a 3,000mAh battery to boost the phone’s battery backup. The most interesting one, however, is the back case with LED lights. It glows every time a user receives a notification on the phone. One can also modulate it to glow with a different pattern while playing music. This will definitely bring in the element of fun, but will drain the phone’s battery faster.

The A5 is driven by a modest MediaTek 6753 processor with 2GB RAM in tow, and offers 16GB internal storage with the option to add more via microSD card. It runs on slightly older Marshmallow (6.0) version of Android. The phone’s in-built battery has a capacity of 2,800mAh, which is not bad for a phone with a 5.2-inch (1,280x720p) display. The company is yet to release its date of availability and price.

Nubia N1 Lite

The N1 Lite is a variant of the N1 released last month at Rs11,999, but the new smartphone has little in common with the predecessor. Though it offers a 5.5-inch screen, it has a surprisingly lower resolution of 1,280x720p. It also runs on a less power consuming MediaTek MT6737 quad-core processor with 2GB RAM and provides 16GB internal storage and 32GB as expandable storage. Its older sibling runs on MediaTek’s powerful Helio P10 octa-core processor. The company did not announce the price and date of availability. However, considering the specs, we expect the Nubia N1 Lite to be priced between Rs5,000 and Rs10,000. At that price, the phone will be up against the more powerful Redmi 3s Prime and Lenovo K6 Power.

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