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Realme CEO Madhav Sheth on the New C55 and Mini Capsule: What Buyers Want, and Where Budget Phones are Heading

With its latest launch, Realme wants to give budget buyers something they haven't seen before.

Realme CEO Madhav Sheth on the New C55 and Mini Capsule: What Buyers Want, and Where Budget Phones are Heading

Realme C55 has been launched in India priced starting at Rs. 10,999

  • The Mini Capsule is not intended to be interactive
  • Third-party developers do not have API access to implement integrations
  • The C series is pivoting towards focusing more on features and design

Realme has just launched its new low-cost C55 smartphone, and with it the company is pivoting its budget C series to a slightly more premium position with a greater focus on design than before. The Realme C55 has also grabbed attention thanks to its "Mini Capsule" feature, which introduces some new functionality that hasn't been seen before on Android devices. You can read our launch coverage of the C55 including prices, launch offers and sale dates, and also check out our full hands-on first impressions of the device and the Mini Capsule. We also managed to ask Madhav Sheth, CEO Realme India, VP, Realme, and President, Realme International Business Group, a few questions about this device and how he approaches figuring out what buyers want.

Gadgets 360: What is happening with the budget smartphone market in India and how has customer demand shifted over the past year?

Over the past year, we have witnessed a significant shift in the preferences of Indian consumers. With pandemic-induced remote work and education, there has been a surge in demand for budget smartphones that can cater to the growing digital needs of the masses. Furthermore, the increasing adoption of 5G technology and the rise of social media platforms have also contributed to this trend.

We have always aimed to democratise cutting-edge technology and bring it to the masses at reasonable prices. The demand for larger screens, fast charging, massive batteries, high refresh rates, and superior camera capabilities has gone up. Also, the replacement cycle of any phone is now 18-24 months. We take pride in our customer-centric approach and have been quick to adapt to these changing demands. The budget smartphone market in India is evolving at a rapid pace, and we at Realme are committed to staying ahead of the curve by offering innovative and value-for-money products.

Realme C55 back big ndtv

Gadgets 360: What is it like for manufacturers to compete in the sub-Rs. 10,000 and sub-Rs. 15,000 brackets now? Does it still make sense to offer overlapping models and variants priced just Rs. 500 or Rs. 1,000 apart?

This is a fiercely competitive industry and we believe that competition is healthy and necessary for innovation and progress. It drives us to push boundaries and come up with unique and innovative products. We strive to offer a broad range of products that are specifically tailored to our customers' needs and preferences.

Our "spire strategy" is an example of our commitment to innovation and differentiation. With this strategy, we focus on offering unique technology in each product series that serves as the foundation of a strong product tower. This approach helps us stand out in the crowded market.

We firmly believe that high-quality products should be accessible to everyone. We work hard to develop and manufacture top-notch products at reasonable prices, and this allows us to offer a broad range of products to our fans. We value our customers' opinions and feedback, and we take it seriously. Through over 50 roundtable discussions, we gathered feedback from our customers to understand what features are essential for a good experience. We learned that large storage, a good camera, and fast charging are the three key features that customers value the most. Our R&D team is currently focused on these aspects to ensure that our upcoming products meet our customers' expectations.

Gadgets 360: What is Realme's plan for its C series and Narzo series? Is there any evolution in terms of the target audience, differentiation, and appeal?

As we look ahead, our C series and Narzo series will continue to be a significant focus. Our objective for the Realme C series is to achieve excellence through strategic upgrades, to redefine the entry-level smartphone market. The C series represents the concept of a champion. We firmly believe that everyone has the potential to be a champion in their life, and our aim is to inspire and support young people worldwide to pursue their passions, follow their dreams, and enjoy the journey to greatness. The new C series smartphones will lead the market segment with cutting-edge upgrades in four key areas: camera, storage, charging, and design.

In line with our “spire strategy” this year, we will ensure that each product series will lead with one major leap-forward technology. In terms of the target, we remain dedicated to serving the needs of a tech-savvy young audience who value high-quality, performance-driven devices with leap-forward technology.

Gadgets 360: Coming to the new Realme C55, how and why did Realme come up with its "Mini Capsule"? What exactly does it do, and how does it change the smartphone experience?

Our latest breakthrough, the "Mini Capsule", is a prime example of our dedication to innovation and our pursuit of excellence in the tech industry. This feature is intelligently designed to adapt to the display and perfectly wraps around the punch-hole camera cutout, ensuring that it seamlessly blends in with the rest of the phone's design.

With the introduction of this functionality, our aim is to make cutting-edge technology accessible to a wider consumer base, thereby democratising the technology for everyone. To activate the Mini Capsule, users need to follow these easy steps: go to Settings, then Realme Lab, and select Mini Capsule. Once activated, you will be able to enjoy three functional scenarios: battery status, data usage, and steps stats.

First, the battery status feature is designed to keep users informed about their phone's power level. The dynamic light will display green when fully charged, blue when charging, and red when the battery is low with only 5 percent remaining. Second, our data usage feature will give users peace of mind when it comes to monitoring their data usage. The dynamic light will display orange when you reach 90 percent of your daily data limit. Users can set the limit according to their usage.

Finally, our steps stats feature will help smartphone users stay on top of their fitness goals. Every day at 21:00, the dynamic notch will pop up a notification of the number of steps and distance walked that day, with the dynamic light displaying yellow. We believe that the Mini Capsule feature is a game-changer in the smartphone industry, providing our customers with a seamless and enhanced smartphone experience.

Realme C55 front apps ndtv

Gadgets 360: Why has Mini Capsule debuted on a relatively low-end phone? What's the long-term plan, and will it become the norm throughout the lineup?

Our goal in implementing this feature is to democratise cutting-edge technology and make it available to a broader range of consumers, making it accessible to everyone.

Gadgets 360: Does Mini Capsule require app makers to do anything specific, and has Realme implemented any third-party developer support? Will there be limits on how it can be used?

Currently, there is no third-party adaptation software for the Mini Capsule feature, and we do not have any plans to implement such an adaptation at this time. The reason is that the Mini Capsule feature is designed to display notifications exclusively, without any interactive functionality.

Gadgets 360: What kind of user studies did Realme conduct while developing Mini Capsule, and was there any feedback that particularly shaped its final form?

We take great pride in understanding our customers' needs and preferences, and development of Mini Capsule was no exception. We went through previous questionnaires, specifically focusing on users in India and Indonesia. Our findings showed that these users prioritise battery power, prompting us to make significant developments in this area to improve their daily experience. This helped us to shape the final form of the Mini Capsule.

It's important to note that the charge and data usage notifications are turned on by default, while step notifications require an OTA. Overall, the Mini Capsule feature on the Realme C55 provides users with convenient and useful notifications, making it stand out from other smartphones in the market.

Gadgets 360: Are smartphones in general now becoming boring, commodity items? What's going to push people to upgrade if performance, cameras, and battery are good enough?

We believe that smartphones are much more than just a commodity, and they continue to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of technology and human interaction. While it is true that smartphones have become increasingly sophisticated and feature-rich over the years, we believe that innovation in this space is far from reaching its saturation point. As technology continues to advance, we are constantly exploring new possibilities to push the boundaries with new features in smartphones.

We understand that our customers' needs are diverse and constantly evolving, which is why we are committed to offering them a range of cutting-edge products. We believe that there is always room for improvement and innovation. Moreover, we believe that the future of smartphones lies not only in hardware advancements but also in software and user experience. With the rise of technologies like AI and machine learning, we are exploring ways to make smartphones more intuitive and personalised, offering a seamless and effortless experience to our customers.

In terms of upgrading, we believe that customer needs and preferences are highly subjective, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. While some customers may upgrade for better camera capabilities or battery life, others may do so for the latest design trends or to keep up with the latest software updates.

Realme C55 back cameras ndtv

Gadgets 360: Do you see the potential for a foldable or rollable Realme phone, and is this going to be possible at mainstream prices in the near future?

As we all know, the smartphone industry is evolving rapidly and the latest technologies such as foldable phones are garnering a lot of consumer interest. We recognise the excitement in this trend, but we think it's important to introduce new technologies to the market gradually in order to give users the greatest experience.

As a tech company, we are always open to exploring new ideas and are working round the clock to upgrade our products. However, we do not believe in rushing a product unless it is ready to be released commercially and meets our high standards of quality and user experience.

While we are cognisant of the interest in foldable phones, we believe that it is important to stay focused on our core strengths and bring products that provide real value to our customers. We will continue to monitor the development of this technology and will introduce it to the market when we believe it's ready.

Gadgets 360: What product segments besides smartphones do Realme see doing well during 2023?

We believe that our tech life ecosystem is a crucial part of our growth strategy, alongside smartphones. Our diverse range of products, including the Realme Pad, hearables, wearables, and more, have been widely appreciated by our users. We are committed to continuing our innovation in these segments, while also exploring new avenues to bring even more exciting products to our customers in the future.

Gadgets 360: 5G has become pretty much the norm for phones now, but will we see transformation in other areas, such as IoT, ubiquitous sensors, and computing? Which new product categories or markets is 5G opening up for Realme?

We remain committed to democratising 5G technology. We have already launched the Realme Pad X, the only 5G-enabled tablet in the segment, and we have a series of 5G-enabled smartphones in our product lineup. Going forward, we will continue to bring more 5G-enabled products to market, with a focus on creating a more connected lifestyle.

Some responses have been condensed and slightly edited for clarity.

  • NEWS
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • Premium-looking design
  • Bright 90Hz LCD panel
  • Fast wired charging
  • Good daylight imaging
  • 3.5mm headphone port
  • Bad
  • Lacks 5G connectivity
  • Software stutters and lags
  • Mini Capsule feature is half-baked
  • Too much bloatware, spammy notifications
  • Battery only lasts a day
Display 6.72-inch
Processor MediaTek Helio G88
Front Camera 8-megapixel
Rear Camera 64-megapixel + 2-megapixel
Storage 64GB, 128GB
Battery Capacity 5000mAh
OS Android 13
Resolution 1080x2400 pixels

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