Vivo aims for high-end segment with premium, hi-tech handset sporting large dual displays

The new phone’s radical design and technology make it the Chinese smartphone maker’s most expensive offering yet

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2018, 12:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2018, 1:15pm

China’s Vivo launched a new premium handset on Tuesday, equipped with sleek front and back displays as the Dongguan-based company aims high with its most innovative and hi-tech phone yet, carrying a price tag of 4,998 yuan (US$725).

Apart from a 6.39-inch AMOLED display on the front, the Nex Dual Display Edition phone features a 5.49-inch AMOLED rear display with triple cameras. This means users get a bezel-free front and can snap high-quality selfies using the main cameras.

The company has also included some of the best innovations currently available such as 3D sensing technology, facial recognition, in-display finger scanning, as well as 10G RAM and 128GB of storage.

Vivo’s latest expensive offering, comes at a time when Chinese smartphone brands are continuing to win share in the domestic market, while foreign brands such as Apple’s iPhones are losing growth momentum. Just this week, Apple was slapped with a court injunction in China and banned from selling some older iPhone models, over allegations it violated at least two patents of US chip maker Qualcomm. Apple is expected to appeal the preliminary ruling and said its phones are still available for sale in China.

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“We do not want to offer a handset that looks like an iPhone. We want to design and provide something completely innovative and different,” Vivo’s design director Kyle Xiao, said during the product launch event in Shanghai on Tuesday night.

Huawei and Vivo, the top two smartphone brands in China, are the only brands that have reported positive growth in shipments in the third quarter this year. The phone manufacturers’ shipments expanded 13 per cent and 4 per cent year-on-year respectively, between July and September, according to research by Counterpoint in November.

While home-grown brand Oppo’s growth stagnated during the past quarter, China’s Xiaomi, Apple and Samsung saw shipments decline by 16 per cent, 17 per cent and 67 per cent respectively year-on-year during the period, the report said.

Vivo’s dual-display phone with its revolutionary design and technological innovations, are part of efforts to raise brand awareness, Zaker Li, a senior industry analyst at IHS Markit, said.

Vivo launched its first flagship Nex phone in June in Shanghai. It’s full-screen, notch-free design and pop-up camera solution was a striking departure from most other Chinese smartphone makers, most of whom had followed Apple’s iPhone X notch format.

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The company is not the first to introduce dual-display phones. Two smaller players in the Chinese market, Meizu and Nubia, launched phones equipped with two displays in the past but failed to stir a big response in the market.

The radical design of its first Nex phone allowed Vivo to price the handsets between 3,898 and 4,998 yuan. Nex pulled in more than 8 billion yuan in sales after selling over 2 million units in less than six months, Vivo’s executive vice-president Hu Boshan said, in an interview published last week.

“The expensive Nex phones are not the main profit contributors for Vivo, as the company’s medium-priced phones like the X series and R series are selling dozens of million units,” Li said.