Updated: November 21, 2019 4:04:15 pm
Realme is dipping its toes into the high-end of the smartphone segment with a new flagship smartphone as it looks to capture a large presence in the premium segment, amid stiff competition from OnePlus, Samsung and Apple.
Starting at Rs 29,999, Realme X2 Pro will be a direct challenger to OnePus 7T and Galaxy S10+ but at a cheaper price. The Realme X2 Pro comes equipped with a screen with a 90Hz refresh rate, a quad-camera array with a huge 64MP sensor, and Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855+ processor.
The phone is Realme’s first foray into the top-end of the smartphone market, where other Chinese players with exception of OnePlus have been less successful. Though it remains to be seen whether Realme’s push into the high-end smartphone market will be truly disruptive. Realme will start selling the X2 Pro via a special early access sale on Flipkart and its own website.
“We are serious about the high-end smartphone segment,” said Madhav Sheth, who heads Realme’s business in India. “Whenever I talk to my consumers, they expect Realme to launch more premium smartphones. I have a gut feeling that we will be successful in this particular segment.” Without revealing the product lineup, Sheth said the company plans to launch many more premium smartphones priced over Rs 20,000.
Founded in May last year, Realme has primarily known for being a budget smartphone maker. Its phones are mostly pitted against Redmi, which is now a sub-brand of Xiaomi that specialises in the budget to mid-range smartphones. However, Realme has come a long way from only producing smartphones that are priced under Rs 15,000. Earlier this year, the brand attempted to break into a slightly higher segment with the Realme X, followed by the Realme XT which became the first smartphone in the world to feature a 64MP camera. Although both phones were launched under Rs 20,000, but by Realme’s standards, they were on a higher side.
Industry insiders and experts agree that the meteoric rise of Realme has to do with the brand’s ability to introduce smartphones with the latest specifications at affordable prices as quickly as possible. Some of these features might seem overkill for a few people, but the fact remains that Realme is quick to adapt to the changing smartphone industry.
That strategy has helped Realme to become the fourth biggest smartphone player in India, behind Xiaomi, Samsung and Vivo. In fact, the brand’s share in the Indian smartphone market has seen a spike, with shipments growing more than 400 per cent year-over-year to reach 14.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2019, according to figures from IDC. Realme used to be a part of Oppo, but now operates independently with operations in over 20 countries.
Realme’s first-to-market approach is paying off and the brand seems stronger than ever. As Sheth points out, Realme is a profitable entity. But does the model of selling high-quality smartphones boasting great specifications at lower prices sustainable?
“Realme was never about lower prices and the brand is not about cheaper products. We offer smartphones at every single price point,” he said.
Realme’s entire strategy is modeled on bringing smartphones with great specifications and price them in such a way that they undercut the competition. This is the same business model that many Chinese smartphone brands thrive on, including Xiaomi.
Sheth says the segment the brand caters to demands smartphones with high specifications and he’s fine with it. “ The performance of a phone not only depends on the chipset, but also on the camera tuning, software tuning, the hardware of the camera, etc. Our audience does not want a phone for just calling, they want more from a phone,” he said.
Realme’s ambitions in the smartphone market have the entire tech industry on the edge, waiting to see what the brand’s next move would be. Without divulging details Sheth hints at a powerful smartphone with a Snapdragon 865 processor, which Qualcomm plans to unveil on December 3 in Maui, Hawaii. “If a product demands a Snapdragon 865, then why not,” Sheth said. Realme also plans to launch a phone with a 108MP camera, though he wasn’t willing to share more details on the device. Sheth has already made clear the brand will launch a slew of flagship smartphones next year.
“Realme is growing too fast,” Sheth agrees. The question is, will the brand gradually spread its wings beyond smartphones? Even though there is an immense potential for any smartphone brand to grow in India due to its sheer size and young population, the competition is already moving into other segments in an aim to diversify their offerings. Xiaomi and Samsung are already into a number of product categories and OnePlus too, has started selling smart TVs in India. While Sheth did not reveal which segment the brand plans to enter next, he did mention that Realme will soon enter into the IoT segment. “Realme is not going to be just a smartphone brand, it is going to be a lifestyle brand,” he said.
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