India

Samsung and Xiaomi are closely fighting for supremacy

Each holds a 30 percent market share in India

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Samsung and Xiaomi have been battling for supremacy since the last few quarters in India. According to the Canalys second-quarter 2018 report, both companies shipped 9.9 million devices in the country, each holding a 30 percent market share.

After falling slightly behind Xiaomi over the previous two quarters, Samsung is indeed bouncing back. The total shipments have also increased by 22 percent in the country. Samsung and Xiaomi are followed by Vivo with a market share of 11 percent and OPPO at 10 percent.

Samsung was the largest smartphone vendor in India for six years. Xiaomi’s introduction of budget Redmi phones followed by the midrange Note series has seriously damaged Samsung’s position in India. Samsung has doubled down on its efforts to improve market share and recently launched a wide range of devices.

The Galaxy J2 Pro was Samsung’s top model in the quarter with an estimated 2.3 million units being shipped. Xiaomi shipped 3.3 millions units of the Redmi 5A. Honestly, the huge gap isn’t surprising. Xiaomi’s offering is cheaper and better-equipped in terms of specifications.

“Samsung is hitting back,” Canalys Analyst TuanAnh Nguyen said. “It has launched devices pitted directly against Xiaomi’s portfolio and is focusing on its cameras and imaging capabilities with Portrait Dolly and Background Blur Shape functions.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Apple has been performing miserably. Its shipments fell by 50 percent in the quarter and is currently undergoing a strategy and operations restructuring in the country.

Canalys notes that smaller vendors haven’t given up and are actually doing pretty well. ASUS has managed to make a comeback along with OPPO’s sub-brand Realme.

While Samsung is bouncing back, its recent offerings have been heavily criticized in the country. The pricing is a lot higher than the competition’s, the phones have inferior hardware, and the company is known to rename old devices.

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Here’s why OPPO created a new brand called Realme

Will it help them take back the budget segment?

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2018 has been one of the most intense years for smartphones with brands launching new phones every other month. In developing markets, the budget and midrange segments account for a majority of the sales, and in an attempt to establish supremacy, companies have pumped in all their resources.

The markets have reacted positively and sales are steadily rising thanks to improving standards of living, technological advancements, and aggressive competition among brands. Pricing is always the primary factor of differentiation and companies want to offer as much as they can, this means the profit margin is often meager.

Behemoth companies like Huawei want dominance in the high-end as well as the price-sensitive segment. But, it gets increasingly difficult to establish a brand image when you have products in all price brackets. With rising sales, Huawei could’ve been associated with budget phones, and this would make launching flagship phones a challenge, especially when they demand a premium.

To counter this brand recognition issue, Huawei launched the Honor brand a few years back. Honor is known to make feature-packed phones that belong in the price-sensitive bracket. Now, the Huawei brand targets the upscale flagship segment with the P and Mate series.

OPPO is trying to pursue a similar strategy with the Realme brand. Realme made its debut in May this year and has launched a handful of phones since then. Its marketing efforts purely target the budget and lower-midrange segment, as well as the youth.

Realme launched as a sub-brand of OPPO but has since parted ways from the parent in terms of management, product design, and operations. This means, even though OPPO owns and strategically helps out Realme by leveraging its supply chain and research, the brand takes its own independent decisions. Design elements and ColorOS are a few things that are being shared by the two brands for now.

This division enables OPPO to concentrate on its high-end flagship phones like the Find X and R17 Pro. OPPO has taken a massive beating in terms of brand recognition even after spending millions on marketing. According to IDC, sales in Q3 2018 have slumped by 2.1 percent year over year while Xiaomi and Huawei have clocked a staggering 21 percent and 32 percent growth, respectively.

The dip in sales is because of two reasons. Firstly, OPPO intends to concentrate on the high-end segment and not get their brand value saturated further. Secondly, it has slowly taken a step back from the budget segment and handed over the reins to Realme. Though, this doesn’t mean OPPO is out of the race; it continues to launch new budget phones, but it’s clear no intensive marketing efforts are being taken up.

Realme’s strategy has worked out positively in the short term and the company has registered a nine percent market share in India’s Diwali festive season. Realme has been targeting online-only sales for now and being a smaller company lets it be more dynamic.

The dynamic nature means it can make a wider range of products quickly, even strategically launching them to undermine the competition. While the brand was hastily launched in May, the recent branding change already matured and was built with a long-term plan in mind.

In the beginning, Realme seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to Xiaomi’s increasing dominance. We’ve seen the brand rapidly launch new phones in the last few months and they genuinely pack some unique offerings instead of just trying to undercut the competition based on pricing.

Only time will tell whether the division of segments among the two brands have paid off, but for now, it’s a strategy worth investing in.

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India

Snapdragon 632-powered Honor 8C goes official

A new processor and AI-powered cameras!

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Huawei has been on a roll this year globally with the launch of its P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro. While the brand is constantly striving to make a mark in the flagship segment, its sub-brand Honor too has been occupied in taking over the midrange and budget markets. Honor has been active in launching new products in the Indian market since a majority of the sales are in the price-sensitive bracket.

After teasing the phone for weeks, the brand has officially launched the Honor 8C today in India. The key highlight of the phone is its processor, the Snapdragon 632 SoC. This is the world’s first phone to be powered by the new chipset and Honor is relying on it to garner sales.

The phone is available in two configurations; the first one has 32GB storage and costs INR 11,999 (US$ 170), while the second one comes with 64GB storage and retails for INR 12,999 (US$ 185). It is available in Aurora Blue, Magic Night Black, Platinum Gold, and Nebula Purple. Sales start from December 10 exclusively from Amazon.in and HiHonor Store.

It comes with a 6.26-inch HD+ notched display that has a high screen-to-body ratio of 86.6 percent. The RAM remains constant at 4GB in both variants and storage is expandable via a microSD card.

On the rear is a 13- and 2-megapixel dual-camera setup while the front has an 8-megapixel selfie shooter along with a soft LED flash. Honor says it has integrated AI-backed image optimization in the camera app that is capable of recognizing over 500 scenarios in 22 different categories.

Powering these internals is a 4000mAh battery that supports faster charging via a 10W input. For authentication, the phone sports a fingerprint scanner on the rear.

The Honor 8C shall be competing against the recently launched Realme U1, Redmi Note 6 Pro, and Nokia 6.1 Plus.

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India

Realme U1 with 25MP front camera and Helio P70 launched

World’s first phone to be powered by this processor

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Image credit: Ershad Kaleebullah

Realme is a fairly new brand and has already launched a few phones in the Indian market. At inception, it was a sub-brand of OPPO but since then has parted ways from the parent and now operates as an independent phone maker. The previously launched Realme 1, Realme 2, and Realme 2 Pro have been significantly good in terms of features as well as sales.

Now, the brand has launched the Realme U1 and it continues the previous design language of the Realme 2 Pro. Not only does the phone bring a premium design to the midrange segment, but also touts to be the “world’s first smartphone” to sport the newly launched MediaTek Helio P70 chipset.

It is available in two options: The first one has 3GB RAM and 32GB storage and retails for INR 11,999 (US$ 170), while the second variant has 4GB RAM and 64GB storage and is marked at INR 14,4999 (US$ 205). Sales start from December 5 exclusively via Amazon.in for Ambitious Black, Brave Blue, and Fiery Gold color options.

Image credit: Ershad Kaleebullah

Sporting a 6.3-inch Full HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9, it has a waterdrop notch that increases the screen-to-body ratio to a whopping 90 percent. Underneath is the latest ColorOS skin on top of Android 8.1 Oreo.

On the back is a 13- and 2-megapixel dual-camera array while the front has a 25-megapixel single selfie shooter. The brand says it has incorporated AI Beauty+ in the camera app and can make changes according to Indian skin tones. The camera app further brings in Super Vivid 2.0 for accurate color saturation and automatic scene recognition.

Backing these internals is a 3500mAh battery, along with a fingerprint scanner on the back for quick authentication. The brand also announced Realme Buds that come with Kevlar-coated wires and retail for INR 499 (US$ 7).

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