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Oppo aims new flagship at China smartphone market

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 10:12am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 4:04pm

Chinese smartphone maker Oppo will probably ship more than 15 million units in the mainland this year, with foreign expansion also picking up, a senior executive said on Tuesday.

That would put the Dongguan, Guangdong-based company on a par with Xiaomi, which has also said it would meet its 15 million units sales target this year.

Oppo hopes a new flagship handset launched on Monday would help it stand out from the pack of competitors locally and globally, said Pete Lau, vice-president of Oppo, in Beijing.

“We have never set any target – it’s always been the more the better. If it could exceed what we have done with the Find 5 [a past model], I’d be very happy,” he told The South China Morning Post.

“Anyway, we are sure to sell more than 15 million phones this year, with at least three million being the Find 5.”

The new phone, N1, has a swivel 13-megapixel camera that can be turned facing forward or backward, which Oppos says is superior to front mounted cameras. It also has a touch panel on the back of the phone to make self-portraits easier.

The company has sold close to 3 million units of Find 5 in China alone. Released this February, the model was not the bestselling among the company’s portfolio, but “considering its 3000-yuan (HK$3,785) price tag, selling 3 million units is remarkable,” Lau said.

The rest of Oppo’s phones are priced between 1,000 yuan and 3,000 yuan.

Oppo faces heated competition in the quickly growing domestic market, where almost all major players, including Samsung, Apple, Sony, Xiaomi, and Meizu have launched new models this month. Oppo is estimated to be about ninth in terms of Chinese market share.

A recent IDC survey said Samsung led, with 17.6 per cent, and Chinese brands, including Lenovo (12.3 per cent), Yulong (12.2 per cent), ZTE (8.7 per cent), Huawei (8.6 per cent), and Xiaomi, all comfortably surpassing Apple.

Lau said the new phone would help Oppo expand globally, especially in developing markets, including Indonesia and Thailand, where “not a lot of phones have been sold, but our brand is building up,” he said.

“What makes us different from other Chinese phone makers is that we put most of our efforts in our products. We aren’t too cosy with the media – we met the press the first time only last year,” he said.

Oppo was founded in 2008, and broke even in the same year, Lau said.

The company said its new phone’s camera applications allowed photos to be taken with a swipe of the back of the phone’s sensor.

At a launch event in Beijing on Monday, presenters said the swivel camera - which can rotate 206 degrees - would also come in handy when users wanted to take surreptitious photos.

“It will be useful when you come across a stunning woman on the street and wish to take a photograph of her, but pointing your phone at her would seem rude,” a presenter said. “You can just rotate the camera.”

The phone, N1, is said to be the first Android-powered smartphone with a six-piece lens design – conventional smartphones only boast five - and offers real-time video conferencing.

“It’s a dream phone for many people now who love to take great pictures of themselves - you don’t even have to photoshop them,” another presenter said.

It has a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor with a 5.9-inch 1080p display, and a 3,610 mAh battery.

Oppo claims its swivel camera has passed a 100,000-time rotation test, which works out to about seven years of usage if rotated 40 times a day.

It said it’s taking orders for customers on China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA network, and the phone will be available in December.

Prices start at 3,498 yuan (HK$4,413) for the smallest capacity (16 gigabytes) model.

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