Oppo Launches New Flagship Smartphone as China Market Roars Back
(Bloomberg) -- Oppo, a contender to replace Huawei Technologies Co. in the global smartphone rankings, launched its latest flagship device on Thursday with a novel camera system and the latest Qualcomm Inc. silicon.
Seeking to entice keen mobile photographers, the Oppo Find X3 Pro has matching Sony Corp. sensors for its wide and ultrawide cameras that eliminate the inconsistencies that result when users change zoom levels. With a 6.7-inch, high-resolution OLED display and curved screen edges, the 5G-capable handset doesn’t stray far from the pack of Chinese Android rivals to Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy line.
“Especially in the high-end segments, Oppo has been able to establish itself as an alternative to Samsung and Apple,” said Gerrit Schneemann, an analyst at research firm Omdia. “The Find X3 will fit into the top-tier segment, addressing key focus areas of current smartphones, especially camera features.”
China’s economy and smartphone market have recovered from the coronavirus pandemic faster than most, with February shipments more than tripling. About 15 million of the 21.3 million smartphones shipped during the month had a fifth-generation connection, underscoring the country’s fast transition to the next-gen cellular standard. Oppo and compatriot rivals like Xiaomi Corp. and Vivo are in hot pursuit of the market share expected to be vacated by Huawei, China’s leading smartphone vendor which no longer has access to key chipmaking suppliers owing to U.S. sanctions.
Oppo ranked first in China in January with 21% of the market, according to Counterpoint Research, which also noted Huawei’s hemorrhaging sales and shrinking retail footprint. Oppo and Vivo have done the best job capturing new customers offline while Xiaomi has seen the biggest increase online, Counterpoint said.
Smartphone makers eagerly stockpiling chips has contributed to the global semiconductor shortage, making an already competitive market more difficult to navigate.
“With component shortages biting, another challenge for Oppo and others will be ramping up enough volume and also dealing with escalating costs,” said Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight. “This will put even more pressure on Chinese phone makers locked in fierce battles that have led to cutthroat pricing and margin erosion.”
At stake is a 5G smartphone market that component suppliers expect to hit 500 million units this year. Oppo’s efforts to secure a larger share resulted in its average handset selling price falling to $212 in 2020 from $223 a year earlier, according to Omdia’s Schneemann.
“With a successful launch of the Find X3, Oppo can re-energize the momentum the company developed in 2019 when it was able to reach carriers across Europe as one of the first OEMs to supply 5G-enabled handsets,” he said.
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