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MWC 2017: Day 2: Smartphones

by Rajeev Nair | Feb 28, 2017

Mobile World Congress (MWC 2017), the biggest show on mobile and connected ecosystem is under way currently in Barcelona. The event to last till March 2 (Thursday) has a very strong team of analysts from Strategy Analytics to cover diverse domains including Smartphones, Drones, Robots, Tablets, Wearables, Smart home and Connected cars.

Our Day 1 coverage, on key smartphone and handset launches is available here.

We would also be hosting invitation-only client presentations in MWC 2017 (attend), followed by a post MWC Webinar on March 6 (register).

Below are our top picks on smartphones and related developments, from Day 2 of the Mobile World Congress (MWC 2017):

1. Sony Launches Smartphones in the Premium to High to Mid-price tier: Sony launched four new smartphones under the Xperia series to include: Xperia XZ Premium, Xperia XZs, Xperia XA1 and Xperia XA1 Ultra. The success of these four devices in 2017 would play a pivotal role, if the vendor is to claw back some of its market share from the lows of 2016, as was captured in our latest report (here), from the Wireless Smartphone Strategy (WSS) Service.

The XZ premium has the world’s first 4K HDR display powered by Snapdragon 835 processor. Its motion eye camera technology is a USP for Sony, as it brings the “world’s first Super slow motion video in a smartphone.”  It also boasts of new camera sensor with stacked memory in the sensor, which is a world’s first again.  XZs focuses on audio function, while XA1 and XA1 Ultra are being branded as frameless phones. The XZ series is of course flagship and would be pitted against the likes of Galaxy S8, the XA series would be positioned in the high to mid-price tier.

                  MWC 17 -1

2. Jolla / Sailfish to partner with Sony
: Jolla too intends to go the Blackberry way, in terms of licensing model. The makers of Sailfish platform, would partner with Sony to support a range of devices from the Xperia family. The end user target segments to include Enterprise, Government and Sailfish OS community

This would now be the only global OS with a regional licencing model and initial target markets would include Russia, China and Latin America. The Sailfish OS is the only accepted official mobile OS in Russia and confirmed by the Russian government. In China, Jolla has entered into an exclusive license agreement with a Chinese consortium to license Sailfish to wide range of devices. 

3. BlackBerry’s comeback trail looks feeble: Blackberry officially announced the BlackBerry KEYone smartphone at the event. It is the last phone designed and engineered by the vendor in-house. Manufactured in partnership with TCL, the device includes fingerprint scanner and keyboard with capacitive touch. It also boasts of the largest ever battery to come on a BlackBerry branded phone.

We at Strategy Analytics are however not very optimistic of the device making a significant impact and remain cautious of the TCL-BlackBerry Alliance.

             MWC 17 - 2

4. TCL-Alcatel launches budget smartphones: TCL-Alcatel has unveiled three smartphones in MWC 2017 to include A5 LED, A3 and U5. Leading them is the Alcatel A5 LED that boasts of a removable LED back cover. This back cover is customizable and can provide users notifications with its functionality controlled by a dedicated app.

We did predict the vendor taking stab at modular phones and advised it to strengthen its entry and mid-tier portfolio, in our recent Q4’16 quarterly report, on TCL-Alcatel. Though it may now have to do a better job of managing the multiple sub brands, with the launch of this new series.

                                 Alcatel A3

5. Other notable announcements include:

  • ZTE goes ’forward looking’: ZTE unveiled the Gigabit Phone and terms it forward looking. The concept phone is the world’s first smartphone with download speeds reaching up to 1Gbps. The Gigabit phone is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and is integrated with Snapdragon X16 LTE modem. ZTE has leveraged its strengths in 5G and Pre 5G Giga+ MBB solutions, to introduce a phone that significantly enhances data processing capability.

ZTE also announced new smartphones under its Blade series: Blade V8 mini and Blade V8 Lite. Both the devices include .finger print sensors and have been positioned for the younger generation

  • Gionee launches mid-tier models: Gionee launched two phones under the new A-series: Gionee A1 and A1 Plus. The focus being on imaging, the powerful front facing cameras, 16 Mp for Gionee A1 and 20 Mp for Gionee A1 Plus makes the two devices selfie oriented. This apart both the devices are equipped with large batteries and fast charging support feature.

You can tune into our Day three update tomorrow and can find our first blog about our expectations for MWC 2017 across smartphones, display, technical innovations and others here.

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