After the runway success of the IDEOS U8150, Huawei came back to take the low end market in 2012 with the Huawei Gaga and the Ascend Y 100 which is being marketed as the “New IDEOS”. While the former is available through Orange, the latter is still available through Safaricom which distributed the highly successful U8150.
The penetration of smartphones in Kenya can be highly attributed to Huawei and Safaricom’s efforts with the IDEOS U8150. Its recent assault on the entry level segment of the market may not be as successful as it was previously due to the entrance of new players like Mi-Fone and Tecno and established big boys like Samsung but Huawei continues to enjoy a good share of the low end market.
2012 started with it displaying what was touted as the world’s first quad core smartphone, the Ascend D Quad and until towards the end of the year, there has not been much from the Chinese device maker throughout the year.
Huawei has many devices in its native China but is keen on taking the international market by storm. It launched a consistent tag for its devices in 2012, Ascend. Several devices (like the Ascend P) are available locally with that tag and they are good devices (I have used almost all of them). It also continues to gamble in the tablet market and 2012 saw them unveil locally the Huawei MediaPad, a tablet that sought to fill the gaps not addressed by its 2011 sibling the Slim S7.
It has recently released the Ascend D2 and only a few days ago it announced the Ascend mate, a 6.1” device.
2012 also saw Huawei stop offering vanilla Android on its new devices and introducing its own custom UI, Emotion.
If there’s one very popular low end Android device out there amongst people my age then it is the ZTE Blade. The Orange San Francisco as it is marketed remains one of the most popular Android devices in Kenya. This is a fact most people won’t want to hear but by putting a high density LCD screen on a low end Droid where competitors only go so far, ZTE created for itself a name. A name it has not been able to defend since the ZTE Blade II is not even a quarter way popular than the first generation Blade. Heck, the third generation Blade is now available and even fewer of the owners of the first generation Blade are aware of it.
Globally, ZTE sought to create inroads in 2012 and towards the end of the year it went to great lengths to show just why it was doing that.
Last week it unveiled the Nubia Z5, its very own phablet to take on the Galaxy Note II from Samsung. While that may be a tall order, ZTE’s intentions are very clear: nothing will stop it from its rise to the top. Before the Nubia Z5, ZTE had just unveiled the ZTE Grand and if that is not enough to pint a picture of its intentions in 2013 then I don’t know what else will be clear in this post.
Pardon my ignorance but I only became aware of the existence of this phone brand early this year when its products started appearing in local tech blogs and adverts in local dailies. Since then I’ve watched Mi-Fone slowly come out of the shadows and reposition itself strategically for a battle of its lifetime.
With an Android device lineup and feature phones with dual SIM capabilities and with a strong appeal to the Facebooking youths, watch out for Mi-Fone. It announced its arrival to the local scene in 2012 and 2013 could be the year it makes its signature moves. The pricing of their devices is also attractive. With its Android device offerings, I’m not sure how my roundup of 2013 same time next year will be like.