How idiom changes with the times! Ten years ago, 'sweet spot' meant only one thing: the spot on a bat or racket that made the best contact with the ball. Today, most online dictionaries provide the most popular new meaning: optimal balance of cost and benefit. This comes as no surprise to Indians: the concept of paisa vasool is embedded in our psyche. Leading tech analysts like IDC and Counterpoint have separately concluded that the sweet spot or Average Selling Price of a mobile phone for Indians coincide at around a selling price of USD 100 — USD 140 ( Rs 7000 — 10,000). And Indians get their value cheaper than anyone else. The ASP is half of what the Chinese are prepared to pay and a third of the price in the US.
We tried out phones in this popular category and our conclusion is: Indians can sniff a good deal at a hundred paces. The models we review here spends almost zilch on big advertising. Yet they are snapped up — especially by canny buyers in smaller towns. Here's why:
Micromax Canvas 2 Plus: Return of the Native
'Make in India' has been a Micromax mantra every since they entered the handphone business. And in mid-2018, they updated one of their most popular models with the Canvas 2 Plus. The 5.7 inch HD screen adapts to the new 18: 9 ratio and unlocks either with a face or fingerprint. The 3GB memory and 32GB storage are more than adequate and the 4000 mAh battery is virtually a standard in this price band.
The 13 MP rear cameras come with a useful watermark feature: you can add custom logos and signatures to your picture. The 8 MP selfie camera is up to its task. The asking price of Rs 8999 is very reasonable but I would have liked to see Android 8 instead of Nougat in a 2018 phone.
Infinix Smart 2: Twin clickers bring up the rear
Another brand that proudly proclaims "Made in India' on the box, even with the parent company in Hong Kong, Infinix Smart 2, is a mite smaller than others in this category, with a 54.45 inch screen, but if like me you like an easily pocketable device, that doesn't other stint on specs, you won't mind.
Both front (8 MP) and rear (13 MP) cameras come with dual LED flash with the selfie clicker enhanced by some quick-select beauty enhancing tools. The 3 GB RAM with 32 GB storage version costs Rs 6,999, while you can save Rs 1000 if you are OK with 2 GB + 16 GB. The latest Android 8.1 comes with the ability to put 4G VoLTE SIMs in both slots. The 128 GB micro SD goes in a separate slot. The face unlocks rounds up the very decent specs of this compact performer.
If size matters to you, Infinix also offers the Hot 6 Pro for Rs 7,999, with a 54.9 inch HD screen. At that price, it is one of the very few phones with a dual (13 MP + 2 MP rear camera). And the 3G memory and 32 GB storage combo makes it a compelling alternative.
Comio X1: AI, AI Sir!
I don't want to overstate what Artificial Intelligence has done for the Comio X1. But it is arguably among the most affordable devices in the market today where you get a taste of how AI can enhance what your cameras (8 MP front and 13 MP rear) and the face unlock feature can do: It practically forces you to smile for that selfie and inserts some funny expressions of its own with a Face Cute tool. Forget Space Age. This is Face Age photography where the camera second guesses age and gender.
The 5.5 inch HD full view screen comes with 2GB RAM and 16 GB storage and a battery that is a mite smaller than others in this price range — 3050 mAh. I am guessing AI also optimises its usage. Like many made-for- India phones today, the Android 8.1 — 4G VoLTE (and ViLTE, that is Video over LTE) — dual SIM-ready X1 can be set up in any of 22 languages. Good value at Rs 7499 .
Tecno Camon i TWIN: The best of Bokeh
I have included the Camon iTwin in this mid-priced phone fiesta, though by strict definition the asking price of Rs 11,499, bursts the Rs 10,000 barrier. I think its combo of specifications will push buyers into forking just a bit more. I am no simpering Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but there — I said it: How do I love thee, let me count the ways:
I love thee for thy 6 inch HD screen — the largest of phones reviewed today. I love thee for thy hefty 3GB memory — 32 GB ROM combo and for thy twin rear cameras for 13 MP and 2 MP, not to speak of a huge 13 MP selfie lens and the best bokeh effects. I scan my finger to open thee and revel in the 4000 mAh battery, thy sweet Oreo OS and the 4G VoLTE SIM. And I shall love thee till the next Camon comes along.