As the global competition for smartphones hots up, Tecno Mobile is fiercely taking the battle for the market to its competitors with improved quality of its devices, user experience and pricing.
Last week, the Chinese phone maker launched the Camon 19 series, the latest line in its fast-growing repertoire of smartphones, promising superior camera quality, a longer battery life, expanded storage and simpler navigation for users.
On the 65th floor of the iconic Rockefeller Centre, overlooking the Fifth Avenue and the East River in central New York, celebrities, technologists and business journalists converged as the world came alive in a launch that featured colour and cocktails and a mission: to take over the world smartphone market.
The launch in New York City was as symbolic as it was a market statement. The city is considered the cultural capital of the world, with fashion, technology and cultural icons living in the city. The American city is also home to museums, galleries, world-renowned brands ranging from fashion to finance and all nationalities of the world.
By launching in the US, Tecno was taking the smartphone battle to the iPhone’s doorstep, as the Chinese tech company claims its place in the global smartphone high table.
The latest edition of the smartphone series includes Camon 19, Camon 19 Pro and Camon 19 Pro 5G and will retail at Sh23,500, Sh33,800 and Sh41,600, according to the manufacturer.
The series is an upgrade of its predecessor, the Camon 18 Premier, which hit the market eight months ago in October last year.
This has been the trend in the smartphone market, with makers developing smartphones and upgrading them soon after before releasing them to retain their share of the mobile phone market.
The Camon series was first established in 2015 as a ‘‘stylish, well-designed camera phone product line’’ and is considered by the company as the symbol of Tecno’s smartphone business evolution. When the manufacturer made a daring move by putting a high-performance camera in a relatively affordable phone, the strategy paid off, with sales spiking. The brand has not relented since.
In recent years, Tecno has established its authority in the global smartphone market by capitalising on growing demand for better camera and battery features in the lower-priced smartphone segment.
Tecno is popular in 70 countries around the world, from Africa to Latin America, South East Asia and the Middle East. It is also the fastest growing smartphone brands in India, Pakistan and Colombia, with a 44 per cent jump in sales in India in 2021 alone.
In Africa, its largest markets are Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Kenya, with streets in African cities such as Nairobi, Lagos and Addis Ababa awash with the smartphone’s branding colours.
While other smartphone brands have been built elsewhere and ventured into Africa as an emerging market, Tecno built its brand around Africa and its unique needs. Tecno became the first major phone maker to offer its keyboard in Amharic in Ethiopia, the country’s official language, a magic bullet that would unlock a new market in the country of 117 million people.
For East Africa's Tecno users, they can access the keyboard in Swahili while in Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, parts of Benin and Sudan, users have access to a keyboard in Hausa
In Kenya, the phone brand commands a significant and growing market share, competing with brands such as Oppo, Samsung and Huawei. A 2021 Counterpoint Research Market Pulse put the Tecno market share in Africa at 13 per cent, bettered only by Samsung at 16 per cent. Even so, Transsion Holdings, which manufactures Itel, Infinix and Tecno has the largest cumulative share of the market in Africa at 32 per cent as of last year.
Two years ago, Tecno surpassed Samsung as Africa’s top smartphone brand for the first time in history, underscoring the fast growth of the Shenzhen-based phone brand. This was propelled by aggressive spending during the pandemic at a time when other smartphone brands were scaling down and heavy investment in research and development (RND).
In its raid of the global smartphone market, Tecno is also riding on the popularity of young influencers on TikTok such as @iJustine and New York's black fashion entrepreneur CJ, both who command millions of followers on social media.
Says the company: ‘‘Our desire is to create stylish smartphones with advanced technologies that enhance the lives of people in emerging markets and their connected lifestyles by incorporating passionate experience and innovative technology in software development, hardware design or service provision.’’
Globally, the battle to develop the slickest smartphone is toughest on the fronts of ease of use, battery life and storage. So far, Tecno is holding its ground fiercely, ticking off these boxes.
Its recent editions feature a storage capacity of 256 gigabytes, for instance, essentially eliminating the need for additional external storage (memory card).
With a battery capacity of 5000mAh, the Camon 19 lasts longer than the Camon 18 series that features 4750mAh.
For a smartphone that has cut a niche as the gadget for Africa's middle-class, the Camon series is not slowing down in its quest to have a grip on a segment that is growing by the day.