Rise of the cheap iPhone mimics
IN THE Australian smartphone market, the iPhone has been the undisputed king for years. But a raft of cheaper alternatives are threatening to chip away at its dominance and it's easy to see why.
I've always been an iPhone user and find myself most at home with the clean and intuitive design of the iOS interface. But when you're paying upwards of $1579 for a new iPhone X, it's probably worth checking out some of the more affordable alternatives.
Chinese smartphone manufacturers like Huawei and Oppo are making inroads in the Aussie market with devices like the $1100 Huawei P20 (you can find two differing reviews of the phone here and here) and Oppo's recently released R15 Pro.
I've been playing around with the Oppo phone and with its own version of flagship features like Face ID, it does a pretty decent job of mimicking Apple's technology.
I was surprised how much I liked the Face ID on the iPhone X and found it super useful for things like banking apps because it was more secure and quicker than typing in a password. And by comparison, the facial recognition on the Oppo worked pretty seamlessly.
The R15 also ships with a fingerprint scanner on the back if you prefer that way of unlocking your phone or protecting access to apps.
Oppo has consistently marketed itself to the selfie crowd, tending to focus on its camera technology. The Oppo R15 Pro is no different and boasts a capability that the company refers to as an AI-enhanced camera.
The phone has a 20 megapixel front-facing camera that can improve backlit selfies and allows users to check high dynamic exposure live effects in real-time.
On the back of the R15 Pro is a dual lens camera (16MP and 20MP) which uses Sony's flagship image sensor, IMX519, to achieve a larger photosensitive area and boost performance.
While I think the iPhone takes better photos, the R15 Pro is certainly a good camera.
Below is the dual lens camera in action, alongside a similar photo taken on an iPhone X.
The Oppo R15 has a 6.28-inch full screen display made from OLED Gorilla Glass 5 which packs 1080 x 2280 pixels.
However it's certainly not as sturdy as the iPhone X which is totally encased in a durable glass finish.
When it comes to storage, Android phones usually offer a lot more capacity. The R15 has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage which (unlike an iPhone) can be increased by up to 256GB with the addition of a MicroSD card.
The device is also powered by Qualcomm's powerful Snapdragon 660 processor.
The R15 Pro retails for $779 and, all in all, it's a pretty great phone at that price point. But it remains to be seen if it can truly challenge the big players in the Aussie market.
About 44 per cent of smartphones bought in Australia in the second half of 2017 were iPhones, according to recent figures from market research company Telsyte which put the total number of iPhone users in Australia at 8.6 million, or 45 per cent of the 19.3 million smartphone users in the country.
But some signs are pointing to a change.
THE RISE OF THE MID-TIER PHONE
Big brands have long had the monopoly on the smartphone market, but new data from eBay Australia exclusively shared with news.com.au shows that's beginning to change.
Purchases of Huawei and Oppo phones increased by more than 100 per cent in June 2018, compared with the same period in 2017.
While top selling smartphones are still dominated by brands like Apple and Samsung, ebay.com.au saw Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus enter its top 20 selling phones for the first time in 2018 with its 5T model.
Given the potential savings on offer, it's easy to see why. The average price of a new top tier smartphone sold on eBay in the first half of 2018 was $1142, while a mid-tier smartphone in the same condition went for an average of $376 - a saving of $766.
The Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report released last week by the International Data Corporation (IDC) also showed Oppo had Huawei gaining momentum.
Despite global smartphone shipments declining by 1.8, Oppo shipments grew 5.1 per cent on last year while Huawei overtook Apple in global shipments.
"Both globally and locally here in Australia we're definitely seeing a trend where consumers are realising premium does not have to mean pricey," Oppo Australia managing director Michael Tran said.
"Increasingly Aussie consumers are prioritising affordable devices with all the features they expect in a flagship phone."
Over the weekend, Huawei chief executive of the consumer division Richard Yu, said the company could take out Samsung as the biggest smartphone seller in the coming years - despite having troubles entering the US market.
South Korean titan Samsung remained on top in April-June, shipping 71.5 million handsets for a 20.9 per cent market share, IDC said.
Huawei sold 54.2 million phones for a 15.8 per cent market share, followed by Apple's 41.3 million iPhones, that gave it 12.1 per cent of the global market.