Eyeing the prize: OPPO targets premium smartphone market
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Eyeing the prize: OPPO targets premium smartphone market

Eyeing the prize: OPPO targets premium smartphone market

With global smartphone sales largely flat after a decade of almost exponential growth, 2021 was a watershed year for OPPO

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In third place with one attempt left in her first Olympic final, the 18-year-old needed the jump for a chance to win gold. With all eyes on her, she hurtled down the giant ramp and launched 20 feet into the air. In what seemed like a fraction of a second, she pulled off an astonishing move – a four-and-a-half-revolution manoeuvre known as a 1620 – before landing her skis safely.

Eileen Gu had never even attempted this trick before – not even in practice. But after the most dramatic finale, the freestyle skier and model was now the Olympic “big air” champion. Resilient, bold and spontaneous, it was the ultimate performance under pressure and one of the most awe-inspiring moments of the Beijing Winter Games.

Gu’s incredible story deeply resonates with smartphone-maker OPPO. Once seen as a budget brand whose success was largely confined to its China home market, the brand made a bold decision to move out of its own comfort zone and produce more innovative, higher-end devices – an extremely challenging market space.

At the end of last year, the company unveiled the Find N, the result of four years of research and development and six generations of prototypes – a significant step in foldable technology. Its crease-free display, smaller size, and ability to stand at any angle between 50-120 degrees made it a more user-friendly option, propelling foldables in the minds of consumers from niche market curiosity to approachable life companions.

Hardcore innovation
With global smartphone sales largely flat after a decade of almost exponential growth, 2021 was a watershed year for OPPO. The brand’s global sales soared by 22 per cent, outstripping the industry average of 7 per cent, and those sales were driven not by its lower-cost handsets but also by high-end models. Those consumers now come from more than 50 countries worldwide, which suggests that the strategy is on the mark. The Find N received immediate positive feedback from users and industry insiders alike.

Find X5 Pro
If the Find N was the most premium smartphone to emerge from OPPO’s $7bn research and development programme over the past three years, another recent launch hints at far more to come.

The smartphone pushes the boundaries of innovation even further. The centerpiece of this device is the most powerful imaging experience ever seen on a premium smartphone, driven by OPPO’s proprietary, Mari Silicon X neural processing unit. This technology makes 4K ultra night video with live preview possible for the first time on an Android smartphone, processing an incredible 18 trillion operations per second.

It’s the biggest leap forward the company has made, but more importantly it delivers on its goal of meeting the everyday needs of users. Recent industry surveys found that the most important camera enhancement desired by consumers by far is better low-light image quality. So, with the Find X5 Pro, milestone moments of people’s lives that take place at night and indoors can be captured in full clarity. Memories of family moments, parties, or dinners would no longer be a frustrating, murky blur.

Smarter, kinder technology
The global market has already responded to this combination of premium positioning and user-focused innovation. In 2021, for the second consecutive year, more than half of OPPO’s sales were outside China.

OPPO ranked second for 5G Android smartphones shipments in both 2020 and 2021. Last year, sales in Europe grew by 78per cent – doubling in Italy and Germany and more than tripling in Switzerland and Portugal – while sales more than quadrupled in countries including South Africa and Mexico.

The Find X5 Pro certainly seems capable of maintaining that momentum. The flagship premium smartphone has already been chosen by all major telco-operators across Western Europe, as well as in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, while OPPO has established strategic partnerships with more than 80 of these operators. In Spain and France, OPPO ranked first among telcos for customer satisfaction in 2021.

As Eileen Gu pondered her final run atop the ramp in Beijing that day, she knew that the only option was to do something different – something her competitors wouldn’t be able to achieve.

OPPO understands that sentiment, and it applies it very well.

Ivan Wu is the general manager at OPPO GCC

Read: Raising the bar: How OPPO is inching towards the high-end segment

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