The smartphone world is just about to get interesting. Oppo and Vivo, two Chinese smartphone brands that have been trying to break into markets outside their home country, China, for a while now, have outdone themselves and managed to top the charts in Q1 2016. According to the latest quarterly data from the International Data Corporation (IDC), the two smartphone brands successfully managed to unseat Xiaomi and Lenovo from the list of the top 5 smartphone vendors in the first quarter of the year.
With estimated shipments of 18.5 million smartphone units in Q1 2016, Oppo’s expansion strategy that has seen it enter several markets in Africa (including Kenya where it started selling its smartphones last year) and Asia seems to be paying off. Rival Xiaomi has also set its sights on the same markets and this means that we’re set for an interesting year ahead.
Vivo, the smartphone brand that boasts of having the world’s first 6 GB RAM mobile device, managed to increase its market share from slightly under 2% same time last year to a little over 4% after shipping 14.3 million units in Q1 2016, a 123.8% year-over-year growth. What should get your ears, however, is that Vivo is not yet even started. While it has been churning out premium devices that will make anyone drool at the sight of its press images and spec sheets, it has been largely confined to China and a handful of other Asian markets. Now what will happen when, like compatriots Xiaomi and Oppo, it starts expanding further from home?
Most device makers have spent the better part of the first quarter of 2016 introducing new smartphones and the results of their hard work may not be immediately captured in the figures quoted in this article. Xiaomi has two new high-profile smartphones in the market. The impressive Mi 5 just went on sale recently while the budget Redmi Note 3 is only becoming available in key markets at the moment. Another device, the Xiaomi Mi Max, is expected to be unveiled soon. These and other devices from other vendors like Samsung, LG, Huawei and HTC are likely to shake things up a bit by the turn of the next quarter.
Samsung continues its hold of the top smartphone charts even though shipments fell by 0.6% to stand at 81.9 million units for nearly 25% market share. Interest in Apple’s iPhone seems to have waned in the first quarter of the year as iPhone shipments fell by a whopping 16.3% to stand at 51.2 million units, a distant second from Samsung. This is despite the company having debuted a new slightly fairly priced iPhone, the SE, a month ago. The iPhone SE’s impact on Apple’s shipment numbers is expected to be felt in Q2 2016 by which time rumours of the iPhone 7 should be nearing top gear.
Of the top 3 smartphone vendors, only Chinese device maker Huawei managed to register positive growth. With a year-over-year growth of 58.4%, Huawei managed to ship 27.5 million smartphone units in Q1 2016 and cemented its both its hold of the Chinese smartphone market and the number 3 slot it snagged from Xiaomi last year. Huawei is expected to keep the momentum through to Q2 when its latest smartphones, the P9 and the P9 Plus, become available in the market.
In all, 334.9 million smartphones were shipped in the first 3 months of 2016. That is an increase of just 600,000 units shipped over a similar period last year. The negligible rise in smartphone shipments is mainly attributed to market saturation. China, where most smartphone shipments have headed to over the years, seems to have hit the roof and smartphone vendors are forced to source for new ways of enticing buyers as well as exploring new markets.
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I have been a Xiaomi user since the second day of this year 2016. That’s when I bought a Mi 4C with 32Gb internal memory. I love the device. But here’s why I won’t be getting that Mi 5 that I had promised myself if I had been (financially) a good boy, nor would I be recommending a Xiaomi for new buyers.
One time mid this year, I dropped my device and as it fell, my reflex was to put my foot on the spot the phone’s trajectory aimed, to cushion the fall. I did get the spot right, but the timing couldn’t have been any worse since I ended up kicking the phone instead. Really really HARD.
Mortified, I slowly picked the phone bracing myself for a shattered screen. To my great surprise, the phone’s screen was still intact. Double tapping the screen revealed the bright screen and touch component still worked. PHEW!!!!
Life went on smoothly until a month later when I started noticing the LCD panel browning at the spot where I suspect my kick hit. The browning continued to grow and spread and I thought “I should probably get it checked”.
I took it to the retailer’s service branch and was told to wait since they didn’t have the screen in stock. I was told to check in later the following week. And then the next. And the next. And the next. And the next.
And here we are. I genuinely love my Xiaomi Mi4C. And I have come to peace with the damaged screen (well, not really. It bugs me – I’d say I can sorta live with it). Don’t get it wrong, a vast portion of the LCD is great, which is great since it speaks volume of the quality of parts Xiaomi used to assemble the device.
PARTS. Now this is where I think Xiaomi skimps on to drive their prices down. Think about – their phones should cost nearly (if not more than) double if they were produced by, say, LG or Sony. But they cost the little they cost. My Mi4C is nearly identical to the Microsoft Lumia 950: they both have Qualcomm SD 808 with 3GB RAM, 32GB internal memory but the Lumia has an edge with its QHD AMOLED (over FHD LCD) screen and 20MP Pureview (over 13MP Sony sensor). They have a similar capacity battery and USB Type-C. But at launch, one cost $235 while the other $598. For the price of one Lumia 950, you could buy and accessorize two Mi4Cs by throwing in 2 Xiaomi Mi 2 band for you and a loved one.
I doubt Xiaomi spares parts off the assembly line to be used for servicing and repairs. It could explain the unavailabilty of the LCD panel that I had ordered, at my own expense. Spare parts cost money and are not usually a source revenue (of course, unless you’re Apple), and I now firmly believe that the only way to fix a Xiaomi phone is by getting a new Xiaomi phone. And unless your phone resides in a cushy padded pocket 100% of the time, I wouldn’t recommend the device to anyone
The browning as earlier described. Admittedly, it’s not extensive and is largely pronounced when a white background is being displayed. But once you see it, it’s the only thing you constantly see. A sad thing, given how otherwise great the phone is.
[…] been in the top 5 smartphone vendors list since the first quarter of the year when Oppo and Vivo pulled a surprise and displaced two other Chinese companies, Xiaomi and Lenovo from the top […]
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