The global smartphone market is reaching saturation point, and phone makers are now focusing on computing products too. According to CounterPoint Research, the global smartphone market saw a modest year-on-year growth of 3.4% in 2016 —it was 1,462 million units in 2015 and 1,512 million units in 2016. Major brands such as Apple and Samsung reported an annual decline in growth. Quietly, brands such as Huawei, LG and Xiaomi, as well as companies like Micromax and iBall, are entering the field of laptops and convertibles meant for home and professional use. We take a look at some options that could give the likes of HP, Lenovo and Dell sleepless nights.
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air 13.3
$829 (starting from around Rs56,200); Xiaomi-mi.com
The Mi Notebook Air 13.3 has the looks of an Apple Macbook Air and the hardware of a premium Windows notebook. The aluminium finish and the light form factor (it weighs 1.28kg) make it durable and easy to carry around. It runs on the Intel Core i5 chip with 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD and Nvidia’s 1 GB GeForce 940MX graphics. The Notebook Air also has a 4G SIM slot which could come in handy when you don’t have access to Wi-Fi. It is very useful for travellers.
Samsung Notebook 7 Spin
$1,199 (around Rs81,360); Samsung.com
The Notebook 7 Spin and the new crop of Samsung laptops could propel it into the laptop big league once again. In the Spin, the display can be tilted backwards so it can be used as a big-screen tablet. The screen is quite big at 15.6 inches and has a resolution of 1,920x1,080p. Powered by Intel’s top-of-the-line Core i7 processor, it has 12 GB RAM and a 128 GB SSD on which the Windows 10 operating system is installed for faster performance. The Notebook 7 Spin also has a 1 TB HDD for storing data. The well-built device has a premium metal exterior and weighs 2.26kg.
$699 (around Rs47,390); Microsoftstore.com
Huawei is making waves in the smartphone segment, but that is not all. The company also has a computing device called the MateBook. The entry-level variant runs on the Intel M3 chip with 4 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD, and can offer battery backup of up to 9 hours.
The magnetic keyboard case protects the 12-inch (2,160x1,440p) display, but costs an additional $129.
Asus Chromebook Flip
This is a convertible notebook running Google’s Chrome OS. The user can push the display all the way back; this tablet-mode flexibility can come in handy at times. It weighs just 890g, and the compact 10.1-inch (1,280x800p) display helps. It runs a Rockchip Quad-Core RK3288C chip with 2 GB RAM. The aluminium finish adds a dash of premiumness and solidity that is often missing in low-cost notebooks. Buy this if you are usually around a good Wi-Fi connection, and don’t mind keeping all your data on Google Drive cloud storage.
The success of the Canvas Lapbook paved the way for Micromax’s movement up the price ladder. The successor is the Alpha, which is the first full-fledged laptop with a 15.6-inch display and a full keyboard. It runs on Intel’s Core i3 chip with 6 GB RAM and offers a 500 GB hard drive. The display has a resolution of 1,366x768p, but comes with an anti-glare coating which negates reflections and puts less stress on the eyes. It runs Windows 10 Home and provides up to 4 hours of battery life in most use cases.
LG Gram 15
$1,499 (approximately Rs1,01,669); LG.com
South Korean company LG has the ultra-slim Gram notebook, which is just 16.8mm thick and has a metal body made of carbon magnesium alloy. The name Gram reflects the fact that it weighs just 980g, making it one of the lightest notebooks, with a display size of 15 inches or bigger. The 15.6-inch display has a resolution of 1,920x1,080p. It’s available in five variants; the most powerful has an Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD.