Oppo A57 brings its 16MP selfie camera to India


Back in November 2016, Oppo announced the A57 smartphone. The Chinese manufacturer is now bringing the device to the Indian market. The Oppo A57 will go on sale on February 3 and will be available in all the major offline retail stores. Additionally, you’ll be able to get the device from well known online stores including Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Amazon. It comes in Gold and can be yours for Rs. 14,990.

The Oppo A57 will most likely appeal to those who love taking selfies. The device is equipped with a 16 MP front-facing camera with an f/2.0 aperture. It sports a 5.2-inch LCD display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels and is powered by the Snapdragon 435 chipset. The mid-range smartphone has 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, which can be expanded with the help of a microSD card (up to 128 GB).

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The 2,900 mAh battery keeps the lights on while the front-mounted fingerprint scanner will make sure your data is safe. The selfie-focused smartphone also features a 16 MP primary camera with an f/2.2 aperture and runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Oppo’s ColorOS 3.0 user interface on top.

If you’re looking for an affordable smartphone with a great selfie camera, the Oppo A57 is the way to go. But keep in mind that there are also a bunch of other great mid-range devices available in India, including the recently launched Honor 6X.

Why you should be keeping a close eye on China in 2017


When it comes to smartphone markets there are two sides to the coin: the highly attractive consumer mentality of Western markets in America and Europe and the sheer numbers of potential customers in India and China. Both are equally viable, but traditionally very few companies have managed to bridge the divide. But those days are numbered.

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Huawei is a case in point. The company has skyrocketed in popularity, from a company no one in the West could even pronounce the name of a few years ago, to a household name in mobile devices in a number of markets outside of Asia. Huawei is now the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer behind Samsung and Apple, who have held the top two spots since 2011.

The Nexus 6P, Huawei P9, Mate 9 and Huawei Watch have become synonymous with the very best China has to offer. Huawei’s design styling and premium build quality has increasingly helped the company stand out from the Chinese pack. It’s the undeniable quality of Huawei’s products that has helped it appeal to Western audiences in Europe, even if the company still has a long way to go in the U.S..

Why you should be keeping a close eye on China in 2017

Huawei, OPPO and Vivo

Back in China, Huawei has the largest market share with 16.4 percent, but its position at the top is increasingly under threat from some equally skyrocketing rivals like OPPO and Vivo. Huawei has the safety net of network infrastructure and chipset manufacture for its own devices to rely on, but even that can’t insulate it completely from local handset competition.

In 2015, Huawei went from sharing second spot in China with Apple (behind Xiaomi), to a comfortable first place position in 2016 with OPPO and Vivo in second and third place respectively. Huawei reports its shipments grew by 30 percent and its revenue by a staggering 50 percent. But even as Huawei has grown impressively in the last year, OPPO and Vivo have grown exponentially faster.

Why you should be keeping a close eye on China in 2017 Counterpoint

In a year where smartphone market growth was restricted to dingle digits globally, OPPO doubled its Chinese market share in 2016 (from 7.8 percent to 15.5 percent) on the back of the insanely popular OPPO R9. In fact, the R9 was the single most popular device in the country in 2016, selling twice the volume as its closest rival, the Apple iPhone 6s.

Vivo enjoyed an only slightly lower level of growth, scooping 13.9 percent of the local market from just 8.4 percent the year before. If the success of Huawei and Xiaomi in years past has taught us anything, it’s that local success breeds international ambitions. We may still be waiting for the rest of Xiaomi’s global rollout to occur, but the company’s U.S. plans have been public for some time now.

Following that logic, and the very real possibility that Huawei will be toppled in the domestic market this year, it would be strange if we didn’t see expansionist goals from both OPPO and Vivo. They too may take a few years to happen, but I’d be very surprised not to see a Western mobile landscape with an increasing number of Chinese names in years to come.

Why you should be keeping a close eye on China in 2017Counterpoint

The next few years

Of course, this isn’t to say that South Korea won’t remain the dominant force it has been for years. But for Samsung (and Apple for that matter) to lose some market share to fresh competition can only be healthy for the ecosystem. Just look at the incredible designs coming out of China recently including the Xiaomi Mi Mix and Honor Magic. Huawei even fixed up its previously awful UI.

There are of course significant considerations like network compatibility, brand awareness, security concerns, carrier agreements, licensing and patent disputes to contend with, but Huawei is in the midst of showing its local competitors just how good overcoming those barriers can be for the bottom line.

Chinese smartphone shipments hit an all-time high in 2016 with double digit growth nationally. That trend is only set to continue as the fight for top spot heats up and more and more of the population get mobile.

Even as global smartphone shipments plateau, China is still one of the great, largely-untapped audiences in the world. But when Chinese companies enjoy huge domestic success, suddenly the rest of the world becomes an untapped audience for their wares. And I for one can’t wait for that day.

Chinese giant Oppo plans massive investment in India


India is an increasingly contested battleground for the world’s top smartphone makers. Among them, Chinese companies like Lenovo, Xiaomi and OnePlus have strong presences in the country, which recently beat the US to become the second largest telecom market in the world.

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Now Oppo, the Chinese company that quietly worked its way into the top 5 of global smartphone vendors, announced massive investments into a new industrial park in Noida.

Oppo already had production facilities in Noida, but the new investment will greatly increase its capacity in India. The industrial park, which will cover an area of 1,000 acres, will entail total investments of around Rs. 1,465 crores or $216 million.

Oppo’s goals for its Indian manufacturing arm are ambitious. Sky Li, President of Oppo India, said that production capacity could eventually hit 100 million units per year, though the initial target is 50 million.

Oppo’s Noida industrial park is projected to begin operations with three years.

Li said that Oppo will continue to focus on upper and mid-range products in the Indian market. “We are creating a trend for the industry and many are following our footsteps on the selfie functionality. Our positioning (in the market) is correct and precise, and that is giving credit to our market research,” Li said.

Oppo’s venture is the latest in a string of investments made by global mobile companies including Huawei, OnePlus, Asus, and LG. Not everyone is able to keep up though – Acer just announced it would withdraw from India, effectively abandoning one of the world’s most important markets.

By 2020, the Indian mobile user base is expected to balloon to one billion subscribers, up from 616 million users in 2016.

OPPO A57 revealed in China with a 13MP front-facing selfie camera


If you think that 8MP for a front-facing “selfie” camera is not enough, you might want to keep your eye out for the OPPO A57.  It was just announced in its home country of China and it includes a 13MP front-facing camera so your selfies can get even more attention.

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The smartphone also has a 16MP rear-facing camera with an f/2.2 aperture and PDAF laser focus hardware. However, the other specs that have been announced for the OPPO A57 are not as impressive. It has a 5.2-inch LCD display with a resolution of 720×1280. Inside, you will find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 octa-core processor with a clock speed of 1.4GHz. There’s also 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage, with a microSD card slot for owners to add up to 128GB of additional storage. Finally, the phone has a 2900mAh battery inside with Android 6.0 Marshmallow installed and out of the box.

The OPPO A57 will officially go on sale in China on December 12 for ¥1,599, or about $231, with color options of Gold and Rose Gold. There’s no word on if or when the phone will be released outside of its native country. Would you be interested in getting this phone for its selfie camera, even with its lower hardware specs?

Report: Huawei was the most profitable Android manufacturer in Q3


Strategy Analytics has released an interesting report, showcasing the global operating profit shares for smartphone manufacturers in the third quarter of the year.

According to the report, the smartphone industry generated $9.4 billion in profits in Q3. Apple came out on top, as it took home the vast majority of it — 8.5 billion to be exact (91%). But what’s even more interesting, is that for the first time in its history, Huawei came in at second place.

Huawei is the most profitable Android manufacturer in Q3.

This means that the company now prides itself as the most profitable Android manufacturer on the market. Huawei accounted for 2.4 percent of the industry profits, which comes out at around $0.2 billion.

Neil Mawston, the executive director over at Strategy Analytics, believes that Huawei’s success in the quarter is based on their efficient supply chain, effective marketing, and a strong product lineup. The company does have quite a few great devices on offer like its flagship P9, which sold over 9 million units globally so far and the newly announced Huawei Mate 9.

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Meanwhile, the third and fourth names on the list are Vivo and Oppo, which are not lagging that far behind Huawei. Each of the two companies captured 2.2 percent of the global smartphone profit share (around $0.2 billion). They were able to pull it off by releasing great-looking devices that offer an excellent price-performance ratio. Increased demand for smartphones across the Asian continent obviously helped them quite a bit as well.

It is interesting to see that the top three most profitable smartphone manufacturers are all based in China. This goes to show that consumers really are getting more price-conscious when buying a new device as these three companies are known to attract customer’s attention with their affordable prices.

Report: Huawei was the most profitable Android manufacturer in Q3

So, what do you think about this report? Did you expect Huawei to come out on top in the Android world?

OPPO launches higher spec’d variant of the F1s in India with 4GB RAM and 32GB storage


In August this year, OPPO launched the selfie-focused OPPO F1s in India, and followed it up with a special Diwali edition around the festive season.

The Chinese smartphone company has now launched an upgraded memory variant of the F1s with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. All other specifications of the OPPO F1s remain the same. The smartphone sports a fingerprint sensor on the home button that can also be used for making voice calls and launching apps.

The highlight of the F1s is of course the 16-megapixel front-facing camera with a 1/3.1-inch sensor and f/2.0 aperture, with additional software features for those selfies, including the company’s Beautify 4.0 app for editing, the Selfie Panorama feature that stitches together three selfies, and the Screen Flash feature.

OPPO F1s Specifications

  • Operating System: Android 5.1 Lollipop with ColorOS 3.0
  • Display: 5.5-inch HD (720 x 1280) IPS | Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Processor: Octa-core MediaTek MT6750 SoC | Mali-T860 MP2 GPU
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Internal Storage: 64GB; expandable up to 128GB with microSD card
  • Rear Camera: 13MP | PDAF autofocus | f/2.2 aperture | Dual-LED flash
  • Front Camera: 16MP | 1/3.1-inch sensor | f/2.0 aperture.
  • Battery: 3075mAh
  • Dimensions: 154.5 x 76 x 7.38mm
  • Weight: 160 grams

The earlier variant of the F1s was priced at ₹17,990, and this higher spec’d variant is priced at only ₹1,000 higher at ₹18,990 ($280) and will be available by the end of November exclusively via offline stores, and on Amazon India from December.

Xiaomi is a huge hit in India, but not everyone is happy


If you’re a numbers person, Xiaomi is killing it in India. Last month, the company announced it had sold more than 500,000 smartphones in less than three days between October 1 to 3, an industry-first milestone. Later in the month, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun published a note on Xiaomi India’s Facebook page announcing the company’s latest milestone having sold 1 million smartphones in just 18 days as the online retailers in the country went on an overdrive for the festive season.

India is an extremely important market in Xiaomi’s globalization strategy and their largest market outside of mainland China, and per Lei Jun’s post, Xiaomi aims to capture the largest market share in India within 3-5 years.

Yet, all is not well. My Twitter and Facebook timeline is full of rants against what are great devices. Poor after-sales support experience, non-availability of spare parts, and long wait times for getting devices serviced have hurt customer experience and brand reputation. In an informal poll I did on Twitter asking about issues with Xiaomi in India, ‘after-sales service’ garnered over 40% of votes.

According to a Xiaomi spokesperson, the company is transitioning the most critical parts of our after-sales operations in-house, aiming for a significant improvement in the service. As part of this transition, Xiaomi is updating its processes further to ensure the quick resolution of complaints, and has already initiated a dedicated spare parts warehouse in Bangalore.

“We believe that this will result in a significant increase in customer satisfaction. We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our India business and we have never been shy in acknowledging that a significant portion has been dedicated to after-sales. Within two years of operation, the company has more than 100 service centers in the country, of which 70+ are exclusive service centers. I am positive that all our efforts will result in a much better after-sales and customer care experience to our users in the next few weeks.”

Xiaomi is a huge hit in India, but not everyone is happy

One of the constant cribs about Xiaomi comes from geeky audience who keeps a tab on global news and trends. A lot of Xiaomi devices never make it to India despite generating a lot of buzz. Not just smartphones, Mi Band and Mi Air Purifier are the only two smart home products from the Chinese company to be officially launched in India. Incidentally, a lot of that annoyance is caused by the regional media. Because it’s a popular brand, publications in India are happy to cover devices launched in China knowing well that they are not making their way to India. By privileged access, a lot of us acquire those devices and publish features around them generating interest amongst Indian consumers.

The Xiaomi spokesperson clarified that the company has a strategy of launching one flagship per year and this year it is Mi 5 and next year they will have another flagship phone. The flagship phone market in India is still very small and they intend to keep flagship portfolio very tight in India.

“Xiaomi is still new and learning in India with a small team and we need to plan our portfolio very cautiously. In our home market – It is extremely well known and quite popular and we are able to launch a diverse portfolio of devices.”

But the ‘availability’ issue is not just limited to limited devices being launched in the country, but also getting your hands on one of their devices after you’ve made the buying decision. Xiaomi entered the Indian market in July 2014 with a unique ‘Flash Sale’ model with Flipkart. While the entire stocks got sold out in seconds, and the company sent gloating press releases about it, it increasingly became hard to buy a Mi smartphone. The flash sales evolved into open sales, and Xiaomi extended its partnership with Amazon and Snapdeal as well, but limited stocks and no offline availability irks a lot of potential buyers. For people like me, it’s hard to recommend a device to a reader or a friend that is hard to procure.

Even in their home country, Vivo and OPPO recently edged out Xiaomi as China’s top phone makers. The former top smartphone maker, Xiaomi has dropped down to number four with a market share of 10.6 percent.

“Xiaomi needs a hero flagship device in premium to drive mindshare to compete with much more focused R&D and manufacturing driven brands such as Oppo, Vivo, Apple and Huawei. Also, lack of presence in offline space has been one of the determinants for Xiaomi’s slowing growth as its e-commerce driven business model has hit a ceiling.”

– Meng Zhang, Senior Analyst, Counterpoint Research

Xiaomi is a huge hit in India, but not everyone is happy

Despite the popularity of Xiaomi smartphones in India, and in other markets, a lot of users aren’t too happy with MIUI, the company’s proprietary Android customization. It’s a well thought out UI, and packs in a lot of neat utility features and advanced capabilities, but the Android layer underneath isn’t updated as quickly as users would like. There are a lot of MIUI fans, mind you, and the company does a better job at custom skin than most smartphone manufacturers, but MIUI lives on a dated Android version far too long than one would like.

With grand visions for the Indian market, and upcoming entry into the unforgiving US market next year, Xiaomi needs to iron out these issues if they want to build a brand and not just be contented with sales numbers. It’s a crowded market out there, and people are happy to jump ships for better value and experience, and rightly so.