I confess to being an Apple fan. I can think of many reasons to upgrade my current iPhone 5S, but it’s only a year old and costs more than a reasonable spec Windows laptop. So logically I’m stuck with it, whilst emotionally I’m trying to justify an upgrade.
Revolution from the East
Meanwhile, there is a smartphone revolution currently brewing in the East, which is more powerful, cheaper and cooler than what Apple addicts, myself included, may think. The names of Xiaomi and OnePlus perhaps haven’t travelled sufficiently enough to threaten California yet, but they are most certainly on their way!
OnePlus One is a sleek, high quality Android powered phone, similar to the Samsung Galaxy S5, but half the price starting at under $300, and it’s just as cost-effective in marketing too. Focusing solely online, they rapidly grew in popularity from obscurity to a trending topic on Twitter within a few months of launch.
It doesn’t stop there either! Not only are they competitive in price and marketing, they are extremely exclusive due to their invite only style and limited distribution channels. As a matter of fact, it’s physically not available on the open market, increasing levels of interest even further.
A potential OnePlus One customer would need to be personally invited from someone who has already purchased the device. Alternatively, people can win an invite through one of the many contests on the company’s social media channels and website, which is equally as ambitious.
Stepping away from the safer ground of Android OS, the company is using Cyanogenmod – a firmware that gives the user nearly complete control over every aspect of the operating system. It also provides additional enhancements not found in the stock version of Android. The fact that it’s half the price of an iPhone 6 with enough change in your pocket to celebrate your purchase says it all in my opinion!
Apple’s intriguing response
Despite Apple’s phone market share reducing, their actions seem to be only further helping their competitors. The 4G/LTE certification process in particular seems bizarre, Apple needs to send an engineer to certify each network installation – this doesn’t appear to make any business sense! Additional frustration occurs when your phone works on a certified network but you roam to a non-certified network, you will notice that the handset drops back to 3G.
The timing issue with 4G is being experienced on a worldwide scale. The entire 5 million population of Bahrain have been waiting two years for their certification visit, which is not in itself cheap and although money isn’t an issue for them, the long waiting game remains
Interestingly, new entrants such as Huawei make LTE communications and phones. Their handsets are similar to Oneplus One, they too are economical, dynamic and polished products. More importantly, they work on any LTE network without approvals, which gives potential customers yet another compelling reason to consider an alternative to Apple when it comes to the next upgrade.
Samsung recently confirmed that it has reduced its phone portfolio by 25% to 30% due to the pressure being applied by the Chinese alternatives,, reinforcing my reasons for rational that the market is shifting!
It is clear that the Chinese smartphone creators are gearing up for global expansion and reassessing our price expectations for a high-end phone. Their move won’t happen over night of course, largely due to IP obstacles, but I can’t help but wonder if by the time I come round to replacing my iPhone that the competitor to the iPhone offerings will be a cut price, easier to replace and faster alternative from Shenzhen?
I guess time will tell…