Big, bold and beautiful! LeEco launches phones in India

The first Indian launches by Chinese phone brand LeEco, seem to cock a snook at all comers.

New Delhi, January 25 2016: Listening to the constant refrain of comparison  during the India launch event  in Gurgaon,  last week, of  its  first phones by the Chinese brand LeEco, I was reminded  of that punchline in the song from that old American musical , ‘Annie Get Your Gun’:  “Anything you can do, I can do better!”  With the iPhone as its primary target, LeEco  pitched its features against  all competition and seemed to say, we’ll match you, spec  for spec. 

Their flagship is audaciously called LeMax  -- and the name says it all: a jumbo 6.33 inch screen  with a very high   resolution Wide Quad High Definition or WQHD display of 1440 by 2560, which makes it twice as sharp as a HD display; an ultra thin bezel  and a rugged all metal body; a massive  21 megapixel  primary camera,  capable of  shooting 4K video,   a fairly standard  4 MP selfie camera,   4G of the latest DDR4 RAM  all driven by Qualcomm Snapdragon 810  8-core   2 GHz processor – one of the fastest available today.  The dual SIM  slots  can take  a combo of a micro and a nano SIM

Another   piece of future-roofing is the new Type C USB connector   -- the first phone to  sport this  symmetrical  design. It means the cable can be inserted any which way you please.   For the time being you may need to buy an adapter since  most of your other gadgets will have the conventional  USB termination. Interfaces  include new technologies like WiFi Direct  (ie without a hotspot) and MHL  for displaying and transferring HD and 4K video. A finger  print  sensor  placed on the back of the phone completes the contemporary basket of specs.  The  phone felt very strong in  my hand  inspite of the ultra-thin bezel. Correction: two hands. This is a phone on  steroids  and all this muscle  shows in the weight  just over 200 grams.  This is definitely  not for one handed operation.  The main camera  comes with a lot of  fancy  software for panorama   shots and  face beautification  and a dual -tone flash  with  two different light sources. I saw some amazing outdoor shots  taken with  LeMax, though I couldn’t try it out myself in the maara-mari of the launch event.

I thought in customizing  the Android 5.0 user interface, LeEco has tried to cram in too many things, making the home screen look crowded. If I owned this phone, I would  trash  half the icons and create my own simpler screen.  At an asking price of Rs 32,999, LeMax is aimed  at the upper  half of the smart phone market  and it will be deemed a good deal for its top-of-the-line specs.  However I do think it is somewhat bizarre to sell you a phone in this day and age where you can’t expand the internal storage  of 64 GB.  Is it because the maker ( as the previous name LeTV reveals) is also into the business of  providing  paid content on demand? And in India, LeEco has signed up with Eros Films   and Yupp TV  for  on demand  movies and live TV channel access? These are streaming services, requiring no storage If so, all I can say is :Sneaky!

Taking on iPhone 6s|
The second phone    available in india from LeEco,  come February, is the  Le 1S  which is smaller  at 5.5 inches, much lighter at 169 grams  and offers a full HD screen.  The cameras are   13 MP and 5 mp, with 3 GB  RAM and non expandable 32 GB of storage  . The screw-less  metal bodied phone is a thing of beauty,  to have and to hold --  and the finger print scanner is one of the fastest in the industry. Other features like USB  Type C port and twin 4G SIMs match the Le Max.  At an aggressive  Rs 10,999 price, the Le 1S is an audacious challenge to the considerably higher priced iPhone 6S Plus. It remains to be seen if customers perceive it like that.  Both phones currently sold only on FlipKart.
Anand Parthasarathy