Local or global?
BEN MANSILL LIKES GLOBAL PRICING WITH LOCAL SUPPORT
The smartphone market is changing, and it’s great fun to watch. When once the choice was limited to brands we’ve been familiar with for many years, and the transaction happening either at a telco or mobile phone store, or consumer electronics superstore, buying online – maybe from outside Australia – is now a valid alternative.
Chinese smartphones are here, shaking things up with products that are far cheaper, spec for spec, than the bigger brands we’re used to from Korea or America. In this issue I’ve reviewed an Oppo and a Xiaomi, last month another Oppo and the issue before that a Huawei. And, they’re all generally excellent phones, sold for hundreds of dollars less than a Samsung or Apple, with, really, little dierence in the actual product.
Oppo and Huawei have been selling in Australia for many years and both have local oces and support operations. Xiaomi doesn’t, yet, but it’s one of the biggest brands in the world so a local presence is only a matter of time. The sooner, the better, I say, especially in the light of my hands-on time with the Xiaomi Mi 6 this month. Top phone, but with a deal-breaking fault, as you can read in the review on page 57.
Now, the review phone was sent from Gearbest, a Chinese online megastore. It’s worth a look if you’re chasing a bargain, the prices and range is seriously impressive. But what to do if there’s an issue? Gearbest will support returns, but it’s a big hassle. The company only oers a guarantee of replacement if a fault is reported within three days of delivery, and you have to provide photographic or video evidence of any issue rst, then pay for return shipping yourself, and they won’t send you a replacement until the original unit is received and assessed.
That’s just not acceptable. Gearbest will refund you the shipping costs, but only after the whole process is complete. Now, I’m not suggesting places like this should be avoided because you can save serious dollars, but the sooner we see more local presence of brands like Xiaomi, the better. Sure, prices will creep up a little to pay for running an Australian oce and support system, but looking at Huawei and Oppo prices locally compared to buying the same products online from China, the dierence is minimal.
LAPTOP, CONVERTIBLE, TABLET OR 2-IN-1?
At Microsoft’s launch event for the new Surface Pro recently, I asked just what category it ts it into. It runs a desktop OS, desktop hardware inside powers it, yet, the keyboard is sold separately. Well, according to Microsoft it’s a laptop. Huh?
Part of the reason I was asking was to cover o some simple PCTA housekeeping – just what should we put on the top of the page for the product type, in our reviews section, when we cover such products? Seeing as there’s no ocial category, we’ve decided things like Surface Pros are 2-in-1 machines. In case you were wondering...