The past couple of years has seen a multitude of Chinese brands making their presence in the country. We’ve seen brands such as Lenovo mature into a more household name, and the growth of brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus.
All this said, new avenues are opening up, with the smartphone sector – specifically the budget segment – being a new emerging market, which is attracting some major players. One of them is LeTV, who have come to India under their new brand name LeEco, and are looking to shake the industry up.
In this article, we take a look at the brand overview of the newest Chinese kid on the smartphone block – LeEco. We explore some of their devices, upcoming products and overall plans.
HISTORY / BRAND
LeTV started out as Leshi Internet Information and Technology, which has its roots in the video industry. Be it in the form of television episodes, movie titles or even exclusive content, LeTV was one of the major sources for video content in a country where the internet isn’t exactly present.
They later on evolved to manufacturing smartphones under the LeTV banner, and have the distinction of bringing USB Type-C for the first time in any smartphone: The Le 1, Le 1 Pro, Le Max and Le 1S (the latter two are sold in India) are the very first phones in the world to come with USB Type-C, offering easy data transfer and more robust connectivity speeds.
The brand name changed only for the global market. LeEco in a way represents the change in ideology of the company – the company now wants to build a ‘Le Ecosystem’. This ecosystem would comprise of various internet media content, smart devices and applications. In fact, LeEco actually has its fingers in businesses such as Smart Televisions and Virtual Reality, but more on those later.
SMARTPHONE LINEUP IN INDIA
As of February 2016, the smartphone lineup by the company in the country mainly comprises of the Le 1S and the variants of the Le Max.
The Le 1S features an all metal body with a 5.5 inch Full HD display. The phone has a top of the line MediaTek Helio X10 Turbo octa-core processor. There’s 32GB of internal storage and 3GB of RAM.
The main camera is a 13MP shooter and the front facing camera is a 5MP snapper. The OS onboard is Android 5.1 Lollipop, and the battery capacity is 3,000 mAh with SpeedVolt fast charging technology. This phone too features a reversible USB Type-C connector and is 4G enabled and also has a fingerprint sensor.
Priced at an attractive Rs. 10,999/-, the phone first went on sale on February 2nd on Flipkart, and the flash sale reportedly saw 700,000 phones flying off the shelves in under two seconds – which is a remarkable feat in itself. This all the more proves that the brand has generated quite a lot of buzz for itself within the country.
The LeMax features a humongous 6.33 inch Quad HD display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440. In the memory department, the prospective buyers can choose between two variants – the 64GB internal storage and the 128GB internal storage versions. There’s a hefty 4GB of RAM.
Beneath the hood is a powerful Snapdragon 810 chipset that’s clocked at 2GHz. In the optics department the main camera has a Sony IMX230 sensor with a resolution of 21MP. The company has taken a leaf out of HTC’s book for the One M8 and has incorporated a 4MP shooter in the front with an OmniVision sensor and an 81.6 degree wide angle lens.
The battery powering the device is a healthy 3,400mAh one. Connectivity options include 4G and Dual SIM. The OS is Android 5.1 Lollipop. Worthy of mention is that this phone was one of the first in the world to come with USB Type-C and fast charging capabilities.
There’s also a premium version of the LeMax called the LeMax Sapphire. The primary difference is the inclusion of a layer of sapphire over the display, which makes it more resistant to damage.
Pricing for the variants are as follows: Rs. 32,999/- for the 64GB version and Rs. 36,999 for the 128GB version. The more premium Sapphire edition will set the buyer back by Rs. 69,999/-.
AFTER SALES AND CUSTOMER SERVICE
Realising that the biggest shortcoming in the Indian smartphone market – atleast for the Chinese brands – is the absence of effective service centers, LeEco has announced that it would open up about 555 service centers in the country in partnership with Flextronics and HCL. These service centers would cover more than 300 cities across 23 states, with a 24 x 7 helpline in multiple Indian languages to cater to the buyers of its products.
And with the Le Max phone, if the phone stops working or is damaged within the warranty period, then the customer would directly get a new phone without having to go over the hassles of sending the phone in for repairs. There is also a free pick up and drop off service for this, specifically for the Le Max phone.
UPCOMING MOBILE DEVICES
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016 saw the company bring forth the Le Max Pro – officially the world’s first phone to feature the Snapdragon 820 processor. Specifications of this phone include four Qualcomm Kryo CPU cores chugging away, clocked at 2.2GHz, with an Adreno 530 GPU. Besides the processor, there’s 4GB of RAM, memory options of 32/64 or 128 GB, and a 6.3 inch display with a QHD resolution of 2,560 x 1,440.
There’s a 21MP camera at the back, a 3,400mAh battery running the show and Android 6.0 Marshmallow. There’s also a fingerprint sensor, which features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sense ID ultrasonic technology which adds more dimension to the security level.
FORAY INTO OTHER SEGMENTS
LeEco hopes to carve a niche for itself in other segments as well, not just the smartphone division. Back in China, LeTV has ventures in the smart television market, e-commerce sector and connected electric cars. In fact, the smartphone division of the company has emerged only recently.
In India, the company hopes to introduce a smart cycle with its own operating system and a 3D virtual reality system. VR headsets are quite the game changer, with phones such as the Lenovo K4 Note already coming bundled with a VR headset.
In fact, the brand has already marked its US presence with announcements revolving around various products, including the smart bike with integrated GPS, a 4K video streaming box, VR headset and Smart TVs. While the Smart TVs are rumoured to have sizes of 55-inches and 65-inches, both with a 4K resolution, the LeTV Box U3 would be the company’s Roku-esque streaming media player. This information comes from the FCC.
In India, LeEco’s presence might span across sectors involving:
• Streaming devices and TV boxes.
• Video content.
LeEco has been more quite the technology conglomerate in China, and its strides in the Indian market will bring about more avenues of employment for people, and at the same time force other brands to rethink their strategies. With plans of launching devices in multiple segments, LeEco truly aspires to create a disruptive and holistic ecosystem for itself within the country.