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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Why Google Pixel is the ‘toughest’ phone to get in India

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#teamPixel is the slogan that Google used for its Pixel smartphones. It was an attempt to create a community for phones whose camera performance is considered top-notch. Pixel continues to be the benchmark for smartphone cameras. Now, team Pixel may not have a legion of fans as compared to the ‘cult’ of Apple but there was a collective groan of disappointment when the company announced that it won’t launch the Pixel 4 series of smartphones in India. Yet, the Pixel 4 series of phones can be bought in the country but remain tough — nearly impossible — to buy.
The Pixel 4 XL (64GB variant, Clearly White) is listed on Amazon India website at Rs 99,990. The delivery time mentioned is 4-5 days. Under the brands’ tab on Amazon, you won’t find Google listed.

Even on Flipkart, it’s impossible to get a Pixel phone. The ‘newer’ Pixel phones — currently not deliverable — on the e-commerce platform are Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. The older variants of Pixel phones too remain “temporarily unavailable” on Flipkart.

So if you were to go by two of India’s largest e-commerce platforms, the only available Pixel phone is the Pixel 4XL, which as mentioned is selling at Rs 99,990. It’s not clear how Amazon is shipping or delivering the phone as it wasn’t officially launched in India.
Times of India-Gadgets Now tried to reach out to Google for comment but didn’t get a response.
Back in October 2019, the Pixel 4 was launched at a starting price of $799 whereas the Pixel 4XL starting price of $899. In an official statement, the company said, “Google has a wide range of products that we make available in different regions around the world. We determine availability based on a variety of factors, including local trends, and product features. We decided not to make Pixel 4 available in India. We remain committed to our current Pixel phones and look forward to bringing future Pixel devices to India,” said the company in a statement.
While Google did not reveal the exact reason officially for not launching the Pixel 4 smartphones, it was suggested that Google had failed to acquire permission from the Indian government to use the 60GHz mmWave frequency band — which is not permitted in India. The 60GHz mmWave frequency band is required for Google’s key biometric feature in Pixel 4 series — Project Soli — to work.
One has to wonder why the mid-range Pixel phones which were launched last year aren’t available in India. In fact, during one of the company’s earnings call last year, CEO Sundar Pichai name-checked Pixel 3a series phones and the role they played in a successful quarter. No official data verifies it but the lack of availability of Pixel phones could be perhaps down to the lack of adequate demand in India for the phones. From all the quarterly research reports that are released by the likes of IDC, Gartner, Counter Point and Strategy Analytics on premium or affordable premium phones, the Pixel phones are conspicuously absent. Apple, Samsung and OnePlus have been the key players in this segment and often figure prominently in reports released by market research firms but Google and Pixel phones do not make an appearance.
A case can be made for why Pixel phones are a hard sell in an extremely price-sensitive market like India. For all its camera prowess, the Pixel phones don’t really offer a compelling price-to-specs ratio. Phones from OnePlus, Realme offer better specs at lesser prices than the Pixel. The camera remains a critical part of the consumer buying behaviour in the market but it isn’t the be-all and end all. For Pixel phones, however, the perception is that it’s all about the camera.

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