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China Mobile’s A3 Smartphone Powered by Spreadtrum Chipset Has Exceeded 1.5 million Shipments

by Yiwen Wu | Aug 18, 2017

Our analyst from Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) services attended 2017 Global Partners Conference hosted by Spreadtrum in Shenzhen this week. In the conference, Spreadtrum unveiled two LTE Soc Platforms: SC9853I and SC9850 with the goal to expand into middle and high-end smartphone market.

What caught our special attention is China Mobile (CMCC)’s announcement in the conference on the shipment of its own-branded A3 smartphone. A3 is an entry-level 4G smartphone powered by Spreadtrum SC9832 chipset, and run on YunOS from AliCloud. CMCC proudly claimed that A3 has exceeded 1.5 million units shipment in the first five months after the initial launch in March this year.

A3 is a typical operator-branded smartphone: a locked entry-level 4G model with preloaded and non-deletable operator’s services. For CMCC, A3 is an important pillar in the operator’s overall terminal strategy. It helped the operator to migrate 2G subscribers to 4G networks. It also provides kind of reference design to other smartphone vendors for low-end 4G models.  Last but not least, A3 is a hardware which provides the operator’s customized services integrated in the hardware level.

In addition to CMCC, operator-branded smartphones come back worldwide. Vodafone, Orange, Reliance, and T-mobile are all good examples behind the trend. However, the trend remained niche in the global smartphone market with single digit percentage points, according to our latest estimate. Looking forward, we expect the market share of operator-branded smartphone will remain stable in the global market, as these models have strategic roles for operators as shown in CMCC’s A3 example. 

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