iQoo 12, Astrophotography, Funtouch OS, and 2024 Smartphone Trends: Interview With CEO Nipun Marya

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iQoo 12 was the last big ticket launch of 2023 in India, and it certainly sets the tone for next year’s smartphone unveilings. You can read our first impressions here, where we talked about how iQoo 12’s mature design impressed us while flagship-grade specifications ticked all the checkboxes. Soon after the announcement on Tuesday, Gadgets 360 got a chance to sit with iQoo India CEO Nipun Marya to talk about the all-new handset and almost everything in the smartphone space.

At a starting price of Rs. 52,999, the iQoo 12 packs many features and the initial launch offers make the deal sweeter, bringing down the price to under Rs. 50,000 for the entry model. For a market like India, physical retail presence is an important factor where Vivo showed dominance in its initial years, so we were curious whether iQoo plans to try its physical retail strategy in India somewhere around 2024. Marya explained, “There is some good buzz in the offline market where they want to experience iQoo devices; fans also want to experience. But unfortunately, right now, we will stick to online channels and will be available across Amazon and iQoo online stores.”

Astrophotography and Software Support Commitment

Lately, astrophotography, a term used for clicking night sky photographs, has become a feature that’s being talked about in premium smartphones, and iQoo 12 is one of the select phones available in India that comes with a dedicated 50-megapixel astrography camera. We wanted to understand how astrophotography was a choice for cameras on the new flagship. With a smile, Marya started explaining, “Astro is building up as a strong passion point, which many people don’t realise, but I think if you have to show good camera capabilities, then Astro is a very good use case. Unfortunately, we don’t have very clear skies in this part of the country at this time, and I think we’ve also chosen the wrong time, but otherwise, I think Astro is a great way to show camera capability apart from whatever you know, other use cases like portrait and macro, and so on. We wanted to do something special; therefore, we introduced handheld Astro mode, where you can click amazing night sky photos without using a tripod. I think that will be a wonderful feature for users.”

Some Android OEMs have extended software support for their devices while iQoo sticks to the 3+4 update cycle, where the company promises up to three years of Android updates and up to four years of security patches. When asked whether iQoo plans to extend the software support, “There are two parts to look at. One part can be the more the merrier. And if that’s the case, then even a 10+12 cycle, maybe less. Right? If one looks at that, which I think is not a very practical way to look at it,” Marya explains. 

“Most consumers will like to use their device for 3-4 years, especially if you’re buying a flagship device. Therefore, what we are promising right now is – Android 14 out of the box. Also the iQoo 12 is the first phone to launch in India with Android 14 out of the box. Then, we are promising guaranteed Android 15, 16, and 17 updates. There are also up to four years of security patch updates. And by that time, I think one is certainly ready to upgrade. Over 80-90 percent of our customers are getting ready to upgrade in the third or fourth year. So, I think they will be very well covered, and it’s not just the numbers of years of updates; I think it’s also timely updates, and it’s always been our endeavour that, you know, we give timely updates, and I certainly believe that we have one of the best track records when it comes to giving, you know, monthly updates and timely updates. So, as far as a software update is concerned, users can be assured that with iQoo, there will be no issue,” he adds.

Funtouch OS, Priority Pass, and 2024 Smartphone Trends Prediction

For iQoo (and Vivo) devices, bloatware was one the most significant pressing issues; though, Funtouch OS 14 has acknowledged it to a great extent. In our limited time with the iQoo 12 at the event, the OS seemed smooth with a bunch of new features like Always On display, more customisation options on the lock screen, and new multitasking features onboard. When asked about refinements in Funtouch OS 14, Marya laughed and said, “We always said we are working on it.” 

He continues, “It was common feedback from some of our users, and we believe that the way we are building iQoo, we would like to try doing this, so we hope our consumers like this, and that’s what I have to say because, from our side, I don’t think there’s any stone left unturned as far as iQoo 12 experience is concerned.”

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On being asked about the iQoo 12 Priority Pass response, Marya added that they had received a fantastic response from consumers, and it was sold out within nine hours on the day it went live.

Lastly, when asked about 2024 smartphone trends in India, he said that the growth is muted (as per Marya). 

“But, the good part is for a young brand like iQoo, there is tremendous growth opportunity because we are still young. Therefore, for iQoo, we expect to see growth. That’s the expectation we have from our side. And for the industry, there are clear signs that the market is moving towards premiumisation,” Marya added.

“ASPs (average selling prices) are increasing, and I believe we will see this trend in 2024,” he concludes.

The iQoo 12 goes on sale in India starting Thursday, December 14, and you can expect our full review of the phone in the coming days.

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