Xiaomi will launch the 55-inch Mi QLED TV 4K in India on December 16. This will be the company’s most premium –category-first— smart TV in the country to date. Contrary to many media reports, this smart TV will not be the same as the Mi TV 5/Mi TV 5 Pro already selling in China, Xiaomi has confirmed to Financial Express Online.
Come to think of it, the move is not very surprising. This is something that Xiaomi had already hinted in June.
Xiaomi is no stranger to premium smart TVs. Its first smart TV in India, the Mi TV 4, was billed as the world’s thinnest smart LED TV. It was gorgeous, alright, but its real USP was its aggressive pricing. A 55-inch 4K HDR-ready TV that looked as good and cost just Rs 39,999, was hard to imagine in 2018. It was later replaced by the Mi TV 4 Pro which, given it did not look as swanky, introduced a handful of useful upgrades including full-scale Android TV (in addition to Xiaomi’s PatchWall) support and a voice remote. The Mi TV 4X Pro that followed, brought further enhancements to picture quality and audio.
In many ways, the Mi QLED TV is a spiritual successor to the Mi TV 4. “Over the last two and a half years, we have gained a lot of expertise in this market. We have poured all of that knowledge into this product,” Eshwar Nilakantan, category lead for smart TVs at Xiaomi India, tells Financial Express Online in an exclusive interview. “In terms of performance, it is four-five generations ahead.”
The primary difference that this TV will bring, when compared to a regular LED TV, is the higher –100 percent— colour volume. It will take advantage of Quantum Dots. All this should theoretically entail in picture quality that is “true” to how content creators intended. The TV will support HDR10+ and Dolby Vision.
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More importantly, Xiaomi has spent months fine tuning it as per the market requirement. “We could have launched a QLED TV nine months ago. Taking something that is available in China and launching here is something that we do not want to do because we want to spend that extra bit of time and energy to ensure we are able to do complete justice to the technology, so it works to its full potential,” Eshwar says, adding that “all the QLED TVs that we will sell in India, will be made in India. Going forward in 2021 we are looking to bring more of this technology to India.”
Xiaomi switched gears earlier this year, entering what we like to call the “Mi 2.0 phase” focusing on more premium play— by way of both product and category expansion. “Our Mi fans have been eagerly waiting for the same (to happen) in the TV category.”
That said, Xiaomi would still rather “wait to get the right experience,” before launching a product, and “never settle for anything low,” Eshwar said, upon mentioning a certain rival brand that started off its innings with QLED. “For us, it takes the same amount of effort to launch any TV, so we would ideally want to do things at scale, so it moves the market forward.”
Xiaomi is no doubt at home in India when it comes to smart TVs. The numbers speak for themselves.
“The Q3 numbers will officially be out in a couple of days. We continue to be the number one smart TV brand in India –this would make us, number one brand for 10 consecutive quarters,” Eshwar says, adding that “we have shipped over 5 million smart TVs so far.”
We have spoken at length previously on how Xiaomi has been able to crack India’s smart TV market. It is all about doing the right thing at the right time. Launching the Mi QLED TV 4K seems to be dictated by the same logic.
“We have been good at spotting trends and then trying to see how we could be the first movers in that space. The total number of QLED TVs sold in India is less than half a percent. We believe there is a big opportunity there. Lots of consumers have been asking for a QLED TV because it is a good technology and 55-inch is ideal for most consumers at home. We believe with the right picture tuning; we can make a big difference,” Eshwar says.
When probed about possible pricing, Eshwar hints that “this price category is not very alien to us,” which suggests the more the things (will) change in terms of technology, the more they (will) stay the same when it comes to all-round value.
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