Chinese smartphone brands are starting to fight back after Apple’s iPhone unexpectedly took the lead in the domestic market.
The industry has been shocked by the rise of Apple, even with the decline of Huawei, crippled by tough US sanctions. Apple was normally the No. 4 or No. 5 player in China in recent years.
Now they are committed to grabbing the high-end market share Huawei has lost and Apple has.
Chinese brands targeting the market include well-established Xiaomi, Vivo and OPPO and fast-growing ones such as Honor, Realme and OnePlus.
“The foldable model can be a chance. We can do better than Apple in this new category,” said Zhao Ming, general manager of Honor.
2020 Huawei spin-off Honor launched the company’s first foldable model, the Magic V, this month. Zhao dropped the new model twice at a press conference to show off the technologies’ durability collapsible and dispel worries about fragility.
It reminded people of similar tests conducted by former market king Nokia and boosted Honor’s confidence in the product.
Among the major smartphone vendors, only Samsung, Huawei, OPPO and now Honor have launched foldable models. Rumors suggest that an Apple foldable iPhone is in the works.
But Apple’s iPhone 13 model already adds enough pressure to its competitors in China.
Apple overtook Vivo in October to become the biggest smartphone brand in China “for the first time since December 2015”, as other brands lost ground in their October sales, according to a report by Counterpoint Research.
In October, foreign brands including Apple and Samsung took about a third of the market share in China, according to the Chinese Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a researcher authorized by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technologies.
Given Samsung’s limited market share in China, Apple likely topped 30% in October, far more than rivals like Vivo, OPPO and Honor, which took around 17-22% share, officials said. Of the industry.
Huawei held a 40% market share in China until it was hit by tech sanctions and supply chain issues and couldn’t recover in the short term.
“Chinese smartphone users are maturing rapidly and looking to buy more high-end devices, which can be a good opportunity for brands. The supply chain also prioritizes high-end and higher-margin devices. in the event of a shortage,” said CounterPoint senior analyst Varun Mishra. noted.
Since December, brands have been accelerating flagship model launches, covering foldable models and features that Chinese consumers love, such as eSports, selfies and fast charging.
Vivo launched its S12 models with a 108MP camera, front fill light and beauty enhancement software for women and selfie fans. Tencent, China’s No.1 dot-com company, is reportedly in the process of acquiring a brand of gaming smartphones.
Realme and OnePlus, which once focused on overseas markets, have returned to the domestic market. Realme plans to devote “70% of research resources” to the development of high-end models to start a new journey in the domestic market, its founder and CEO Li Huaizhong said when releasing the new flagship model Realme GT2 Pro.
The foldable is in fashion
With its phone drop tests, Honor aimed to show that the durability of the new Magic V was “five times better” compared to other models. It also features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 mobile platform, improved power management for gaming, and a high-resolution display for dual screens.
It will start sales from January 18 at a starting price of 9,999 yuan ($1,562).
Foldable models are designed not only for technical display, but also really meet user demand for display, durability and daily use, Honor’s Zhao added.
The Magic V’s foldable screen features high resolution, energy-efficient design, fast touch response and eye protection, representing “a counterattack from Chinese manufacturers”, said its display supplier BOE, a Beijing-based tech giant.
From the initial cultivation of the market by brands like Huawei and Samsung, foldable smartphones will gradually become mainstream.
In China, sales will grow 90% per year on average to reach 65 million units by 2025, said researchers including CITIC Securities and Essence Securities.
Also in December, Huawei launched its new foldable P50 Pocket while OPPO launched the first foldable model, the Find N, with a starting price of just 7,699 yuan.
With technological evolution and prices rising from the 15,000 to 20,000 yuan of the previous models, the foldable will become a trend in China.
The foldable phones attracted most people to Huawei’s flagship store on Nanjing Road, and were compared to other shiny products like cars and AR glasses, Shanghai Daily learned over the weekend this month. .
Young brands are coming back
Startups Realme and OnePlus have seen strong sales results in overseas markets, especially in Asia and North America, but they are returning to the domestic market and also targeting the high-end segment.
The global expansion has given Realme the confidence to compete with “any foreign giant”. In 2022, China and Europe have become two “growth engines” for the company to achieve its annual growth target of 50%.
That’s a high ambition compared to the smartphone industry’s single-digit growth, but it plans to devote 70 percent of its research resources to developing high-end models, Realme’s Li said.
Founded four years ago, Realme’s sales have exceeded 100 million units worldwide, with the top five positions in 21 regional markets. In 2021, its sales reached 60 million units, making it the fastest growing brand in the world, reaching No. 6 from No. 47 in 2018.
He recently launched the Realme GT 2 Pro as the company’s “first premium model”. It featured a 2K display screen and an ultra-thin design tied to paper and carbon neutral configurations authorized by a research center at Tsinghua University.
Also last week, OnePlus launched its flagship OnePlus 10 Pro in China.
In 2021, OnePlus sales topped 10 million units worldwide for the first time, despite pandemic-related challenges. OnePlus now has 14 million users in 50 countries and regions.
Its models are well received in the high-end market in the United States and have ranked No. 1 in Indian high-end markets for four consecutive years, according to Peter Liu, CEO of OnePlus.
The OnePlus 10 Pro, priced at 4,699 yuan, features an imaging system co-developed with Hasselblad and a HyperBoost game optimization system.
With an “All in Flagship” strategy, OnePlus plans to expand into its home market in China this year. As a sub-brand of OPPO, more than 1,000 OPPO retail outlets can offer maintenance and after-sales service for OnePlus in China.
Additionally, the OnePlus 10 Pro has been chosen as the official model for eSports events, including League of Legends (LoL) competitions in 2022.
As sales started on Thursday, the OnePlus 10 Pro’s sales volume reached 100 million yuan within seconds.
Among all the Android models, users are only willing to pay the extra costs for certain OnePlus models and Huawei’s Porsche Design products.
This popularity has led to sales among these high-end Chinese brands.
A similar situation occurred during the iPhone 13 launch in China, with users willing to pay more for early access to the new model.