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Between Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi, there’s no doubting that we’ve got a pretty healthy variety of smartphone brands in the country. From budget-minded devices to pricey superphones, almost all the bases are covered.
In saying so, there are a few brands in the country (via distributors or directly in South Africa) that could do a better job of hawking their wares. Be it in terms of price or just actually bringing devices to the country, we’d like to see them step up.
Local distributor MIA Group has done a good job of bringing well-priced Xiaomi phones to the country. In fact, we’d say that the Chinese brand offers the best value for money in the country, thanks to phones like the Redmi 4A, Mi 5 and Redmi Note 3.
However, the biggest issue is that phones often take their time to get here, if they get here at all. The Redmi Note 4 (review) saw launches in India and China in January before dropping locally a month or two ago, for instance. Then there are the yet unreleased Mi 6 and Redmi Pro handsets.
Sure, Xiaomi’s launch/production plans, ICASA type approval (a problem faced by everyone, to be fair) and overall product saturation have a role to play here, but let’s hope that we eventually see the Mi Note 3, Mi Mix 2 or whatever it is they plan to launch in September.
The up and coming brand indeed has a local distributor in the form of Treppo Group. But after making a lot of noise at the beginning of the year, it went silent for months, even after we asked for interviews numerous times. In fact, the firm only popped up in June to confirm it was still in business and replenishing stock — reverting to silence again.
Nevertheless, Oukitel differentiates itself by slotting massive batteries into its phones. There was the locally available K6000 Pro (featuring a 6000mAh battery), but it’s the K10 000 Pro that delivers the goods. Packing a record-breaking 10 000mAh battery, the otherwise budget Android phone should last a week with pretty heavy usage. Doesn’t that sound like the ideal handset for our market?
Technically speaking, Asus hasn’t delivered devices to the country for quite a few years, but it’s still got a presence via its computing products. Even then, back in 2014, TechCentral reported that the brand wanted to bring its initial ZenFone lineup to the country.
The ZenFone 3 range delivered some pretty impressive features at less-than-flagship prices. Heck, the ZenFone 3 Zoom offered a dual camera setup (12MP f/1.7 shooter and 12MP telephoto camera), a power-sipping Snapdragon 625 chip and a massive 5000mAh battery for roughly US$330.
The Moto range isn’t exactly enjoying its best years right now, after the successes of the Moto X, Moto G and Moto E. But the Moto Z and Moto Z Play did succeed in putting the brand back on the map, it could be argued.
We even saw a release in South Africa last year, with the handsets coming to the country. But the biggest issue Lenovo needs to tackle is pricing, if the Moto Z Play’s R9000 launch is anything to go by.
The phone had an international price tag of around $350 to $400, while India saw a price of 20 999 rupees. Even when bearing customs duties and profit margins in mind, paying roughly double the price in SA was a big ask, especially when Huawei and Xiaomi were cheaper.
We saw the company launch via 2C Telecoms late last year, delivering the Meizu Pro 6 and M3 Note to South Africa. And the prices were very attractive too, pretty much matching Xiaomi’s Mi 5 and Redmi Note 3 respectively.
The manufacturer has since decided to open a local office here, 2C recently told Gearburn in response to a query. But between the need to install the Google Play Store and a lack of new phone releases (where’s the Pro 6 Plus, E2 and M5 Note?), Meizu South Africa has a few hurdles to overcome.