Encased in a glass pedestal, Huawei’s Mate 9 Porsche Design was the most expensive phone I’d ever seen. It sat next to a gleaming, black Porsche (the car) at Huawei’s launch event last November with a price tag of over US$1,500.
China’s smartphone market today is a much different beast than it was five years ago. A Porsche-inspired smartphone may not be for everyone, but it shows what lengths companies
need to go to dazzle increasingly sophisticated Chinese consumers. Domestic brands that were once known as cheap copycats of Apple
have also expanded to pricier flagships. Xiaomi, for instance, rolled out its luxury Mi Mix last year, a bezel-less phone that comes with a whopping 256GB of internal storage. An even posher version comes with 18 karat gold accents.
For Apple, which will debut its highly anticipated iPhone 8 today, hitting Chinese consumers with an expensive but extraordinary phone could help the US tech giant get its mojo back. According to industry analysts, Apple
saw its market share in China decline for the first time in 2016. This year, it slipped to fifth place in China’s smartphone market.
A higher bar
China’s shift towards more expensive phones could play in Apple’s favor if its iPhone 8 – particularly the most glam “iPhone X” variant – succeeds in impressing Chinese consumers who can afford a US$1,000 device. At the same time, if the iPhone 8’s capabilities and design are not vastly superior to existing offerings, then Apple
will be overshadowed by domestic smartphone companies
– which are also crushing it overseas.
China’s more modest consumers also have higher expectations. Built-in beauty filters, dual cameras, and speedy fingerprint scanners are becoming the new normal in mid-range smartphones. Minimal upgrades, as seen in the iPhone 7, won’t be enough to woo back Chinese buyers.
This is an excerpt from Tech in Asia. You can read the full article here