Realme wants to get involved in noble cell phones – a bad idea?

Realme wants to get involved in noble cell phones – a bad idea?

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© Realme

Realme obviously wants to get involved with the really big ones! Because as company founder Sky Li revealed on Twitter on November 12, the company plans to sell cell phones that cost more than 800 US dollars. A good chance for Realme or too daring an attempt?

“It’s official, Realme will enter the high-end smartphone market above $800!” Realme co-founder Sky Li announced on Twitter on Nov. 12. The CEO didn’t reveal more, and it’s unclear whether this strategy change will be initiated with the upcoming Realme GT 2. Because maybe the manufacturer will also launch a whole new line.

Realme CEO Madhav Sheth told me in an interview last year that the goal is to be in the top 5 smartphone manufacturers by the end of 2021. By mid-November 2021, the goal has not yet been fully achieved, at least not according to the figures from Counterpoint Research for the first half of the year.

Still, Realme grew exponentially by 135% in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year. And it was the fastest manufacturer, shipping a total of 100 million smartphones since entering the market just 37 months ago. Anyway, Realme seems to think this move into the premium segment is what it takes to reach big player status.

A logical transition

This strategy is not new. All Chinese smartphone manufacturers have followed the same business plan in Europe. They first enter the market as a cheaper challenger and then flood it with numerous cheaper products. These tend to come out with higher frequency and in doing so, you gather a following. These become so loyal until you can then sell higher-priced cell phones.

Xiaomi is a perfect example of this as the manufacturer managed to take the lead in the smartphone market in 2021. The company is now a serious direct competitor to the giants Apple and Samsung, with an extensive catalog in all price ranges.

However, the strategy can be double-edged, especially if the manufacturer doesn’t change its communication and doesn’t understand that what made it successful in the mid-range might not necessarily apply to the high -end .

OnePlus, once the favorite brand of tech journalists and YouTubers and an advocate of value for money, has also taken the premium route. The OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro marked the culmination of this strategy and a real breakthrough with a significant price increase compared to the previous generation.

But by 2021, the manufacturer has lost almost all of its brand identity to Oppo and its upcoming smartphones will even run ColorOS 12 . So Realme will have to avoid the pitfalls of OnePlus if it doesn’t want to end up as a sub-division of its parent company.

NextPit Realme GT Antoine
The Realme is an excellent sub-€500 flagship, but its weaknesses would be less forgivable at $800 / © NextPit

What lessons can we learn from OnePlus?

As good as its flagships were, OnePlus never really managed to appeal to a mainstream audience big enough to break into the high-end market.

Since launching its premium strategy in 2019, OnePlus has consistently criticized the quality of the camera module, wireless charging, and the regularity of updates. If you take those criteria and compare them to a mid-range smartphone or a flagship killer, you can overlook them. But with an $800 cell phone, they become essential purchase criteria.

And that’s what I think OnePlus has been missing. That and the fact that it competed a bit too much with Oppo’s flagships. This prompted the umbrella brand to spice up its own catalog with products from its sub-brands.

But it’s this transition that Realme needs to make if it wants to get off to a good start in the high-end market. Its latest flagship, the Realme GT , is an excellent smartphone in terms of value for money, precisely because it cost less than 500 dollars when it was released. If you don’t have a competitive price, you have to offer the best possible technical specifications in return.

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