August 27, 2015 12:46
Chinese smartphones are making inroads into the Korean market, which used to be dominated by Samsung and LG.
Armed with low prices, high specs and near-knockoff designs, Huawei, TCL, Xiaomi and ZTE have made huge strides over the past few years in the global market for low to mid-priced smartphones and are now threatening their Korean rivals.
Huawei has already surpassed LG to become the world's No. 3 smartphone maker after Samsung and Apple.
The Chosun Ilbo surveyed the top 10 low- to mid-priced smartphones sold by the three major mobile operators, and two Chinese models made it on the list, one at SK Telecom and the other at LG Uplus.
At SK Telecom, TCL's Alcatel idol Chac was in the Top 10 along with seven Samsung and two LG phones.
The Chinese smartphone has a five-inch screen, 16 GB memory and 13 megapixel front and 8 megapixel rear camera.
The main selling point of the TCL phone is its price tag. At W287,000 it is cheaper than Korean phones in the same bracket (US$1=W1,189).
But customers who sign up for a W51,000 monthly plan can buy the smartphone for just W22,000, so it effectively ends up costing nothing considering the fact that most mobile phone dealers offer an additional 15 percent discount.
Huawei, which began selling cheaper smartphones in Korea in September last year, managed to place its X3 model in LG Uplus' Top 10 list.
Chung Wan-sook at Huawei Korea said, "The product went through additional design changes to meet the preferences of Korean consumers."
The Huawei X3 also has a five-inch screen, 16 GB memory, 5 megapixel front and 13 megapixel rear camera, 3,000 mAh battery and is only 7.6 mm thick.
It costs W330,000, but if customers sign up for a W51,000 monthly plan it ends up costing nothing just like the TCL phone.
Almost all of the X3 smartphones in Korea have sold out. Huawei apparently showcased a new smartphone model to Korean telecom service providers and is expected to roll out the new product here within this year.
Xiaomi also plans to foray into the Korean market. A staffer with a local telecom service provider said, "I believe Xiaomi is opting to sell its smartphones at electronics outlets like TVs and other home appliances, rather than teaming up with a telecom service provider."
Xiaomi presently sells smartphone batteries and other gadgets in Korea, and they are gaining in popularity. One Internet shopping mall sold Xiaomi scales, and all of the products were sold out in just two hours.
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