It was a week of good news/bad news for Chinese smartphone maker Huawei.
News broke on Weibo that the company would be launching its new P50 flagship series device on the 17th of April 2021.
In the same week, Huawei, which has been hit hard by US trade sanctions, was dethroned by OPPO, which became the biggest smartphone maker in China for the first time ever, Counterpoint Research’s Market Pulse Service reported.
Experts say, the changing of the guard is the result of two factors: OPPO’s sharp rise and Huawei’s continual decline.
This January OPPO captured 21% of the Chinese market, putting it on top, GSMArena reported.
Fellow BBK brand Vivo was close behind with 20%, tied with the ailing Huawei. Behind that are Apple and Xiaomi, both at 16%.
OPPO’s market share in January increased 33% compared to December and 26% compared to January 2020. Note that the company’s 5G models are tracked separately as Counterpoint marks them as key drivers of growth.
And it’s easy to see why — 5G smartphones made up 65% of all units sold in China during the last quarter of 2020.
This also explains Huawei’s woes — in some ways, its hands are tied.
The company can source 4G chips, but for 5G phones it has to rely on the chips it stockpiled before the trade restrictions came into effect.
So, Huawei has shifted its focus to the premium market where profit margins are higher (but sales volumes are lower).
As a result, analysts say OPPO was able to capture the ceded market share.
They point to the successful Reno5 mid-ranger and the affordable A-series, both of which have 5G models at various price points.
“OPPO has been successfully able to reposition its product lines in 2020,” Varun Mishra, Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research, told SlashGear.com.
“The rebranding of the Reno series and launching a more capable device at a lower price point than its predecessor helped OPPO capture the affordable premium segment.”
According to an anonymous tipster on Weibo, the latest entry in the Chinese tech giant’s flagship P series will launch in the second half of next month but shipments are expected to be small.
The reason for the limited number of units is currently unknown. Although, it is likely due to the inventory shortage for chipsets, GizmoChina reported.
At the moment, the Huawei P50 series is apparently ready for mass production and will arrive in three new variants. This includes the base version, the P50 Pro, and the P50 Pro+.
Since these are flagship models, the lineup is expected to arrive with top notch specs like the high end HiSilicon Kirin 9000 series chips, great display, and a capable rear camera module as well.
As per previous reports, the base variant will feature the Kirin 9000E chipset while the two higher end variants will arrive with the Kirin 9000 processor, GizmoChina reported.
Furthermore, the standard variant will feature a 6.1 inch display, while the other two versions will sport a 6.6 inch and 6.8 inch panel respectively.
As noted by Counterpoint, Huawei’s decline has been beneficial for Xiaomi too.
It and the BBK brands are advancing on different fronts – Xiaomi is eating into Huawei’s online business, OPPO and Vivo are doing better in offline sales.
It also helped that Huawei was effectively hobbled by legal actions on the part of the US government that led to breaks in supply lines and the company’s ability to collaborate with brands of several sorts.
Meanwhile, OPPO will be releasing their next major smartphone, the Find X3 Pro, on March 11, 2021.
Sources: GSMArena, SlashGear.com, GizmoChina, Counterpoint Research’s Market Pulse Service