Samsung vs Xiaomi Smartphone Battle Update : Korean Giant to Release a Trio of Affordable Metal-Clad Smartphones To Take on Xiaomi

Being a struggling contender in the handset market is a situation that Samsung is no stranger to. For many, many years, the Korean company had been vastly inferior to Nokia and Motorola in terms of sales -- until Android happened and Samsung had a runaway hit with the first generation Galaxy S in 2010. Soon after, the complexion of the mobile scene turned sharply to their favor.

Fast forward to 2014, Samsung remains to be the biggest handset maker in the world in terms of sales -- a title it has held for three consecutive years now. And although, in July, the company reported its lowest profits for the past two years, their current flagship - Samsung Galaxy S5 - managed to be their fastest selling smartphone ever -- with 10 million units sold in only 25 days following its release and with over 40 million units sold to date.

However, despite Samsung's continuing success in various territories across the world - including the Philippines - several key and major markets like China and India have altogether slipped from the Korean Giant's strangle hold and have been taken over by fierce, new competitors that the brand has never faced before. These new players hailing from mainland China are slowly but surely slaying Samsung by employing the tried and tested formula of selling viable alternatives for a whole lot less.

One such player is Beijing-based Xiaomi Global, which has just been named the world's third biggest smartphone maker trailing Samsung and Apple. According to The Guardian, "Xiaomi shipped 17.3 Million smartphones in the third quarter, 5.3% of the 327.6 Million total global shipments. [...] Samsung shipped 78.1 Million smartphones and Apple 39.3 Million, while Lenovo shipped 16.9M and LG 16.8M, which IDC describes as a tie due to the variability in the data."

Best-selling releases like the Xiaomi Mi3 flagship and the entry-level powerhouse Redmi 1s that offer great value for money have obviously eaten into the market share of electronics giants like Samsung in those said territories and have greatly helped catapult Xiaomi to its current position.

Samsung Galaxy A, Samsung vs Xiaomi

Nonetheless, like what I mentioned, Samsung is used to facing stiff competition and rolling with the punches so their next move - recently disclosed by various news agencies in their homeland - was to be expected. Now that Samsung has felt what it's like to be number one - coming from being an absolute laggard just less than five years ago - I'm sure they'll do everything they can not to give up their lead and surrender that position to another company.

Quoting Business Korea, "[...] Three Galaxy A series handsets with LTE features will be introduced to the Chinese market as early as this month under the names of Samsung Galaxy A3, Galaxy A5, and Galaxy A7. After rolling out the Galaxy Note 4 in the Korean and Chinese markets first, the largest Android phone maker is also gearing up to release new mid to low-range phones in the Chinese market. The Galaxy A3, the Galaxy A5, and the Galaxy A7 are going to be showcased one after another."

These three upcoming models are similar with the Galaxy Alpha, in that all of them have metal frames and curved designs. "In price competitiveness, the new versions stand on an equal footing with Chinese smartphones in the price range of 500,000 won (US$475)," they added. That's around Php 21,350 with current conversion.

Samsung Galaxy A, Samsung vs Xiaomi

Obviously, within the past several months, Xiaomi didn't encounter any major difficulty in convincing a lot of consumers to pass on Samsung's current entry-level Galaxy Young and Galaxy V offerings as well as the Grand 2 and Mega midrange phablet releases. This - in itself - is already a major feat considering that earlier versions of these plastic-clad models were all monster best-sellers.

Xiaomi was able to take advantage of one seeming weakness in Samsung's strategy and that's the Korean company's tendency to reserve good technical specifications only for its high-end models even if they were already able to cut costs on materials in crafting their entry-level and midrange handsets. The Chinese company attracted many consumers by offering Android devices with great specifications for the same price as that of Samsung phones with far less powerful innards.

With the upcoming affordable Galaxy A-series phones donning elegant and durable metal enclosures complemented by powerhouse internal hardware, Samsung hopes to turn things around and regain followers they've lost to companies like Xiaomi. “As far as I know, Samsung reached the conclusion that it has no choice but to greatly increase the supplies of entry-level products with high specs in the [...] market, even if it means less profitability [...] Samsung apparently thinks that it is the only option to check the influence of Chinese handset makers," an analyst told Business Korea.

I'm not sure if it's a case of resting too much on one's laurels -- but it's clear that Samsung just took way too long to come up with these major changes. Had they done this sooner, I don't think they would have lost China and India to Xiaomi and other relatively new brands. But I guess there's always that trap.

Anyway, according to insiders, the most expensive of Samsung's three new smartphones is Galaxy A7, which will run on a 64-bit processor and will have a price tag in the area of $450 to $500 USD (Php 20,250 to Php 22,500). The more pocket-friendly Samsung Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A3 are said to fall under the $400 to $450 (roughly Php 18,000 to Php 20,250) and $350 and $400 (roughly Php 15,750 to Php 18,000) price brackets respectively. Frankly, I was hoping they'd be more affordable.

Meanwhile, following IDC's announcement that it's now the third biggest smartphone vendor globally, Xiaomi posted this status update on its official Facebook page in the Philippines, thanking its loyal Pinoy fans: "It’s fans like you that make Mi fly high. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Stick with Mi, because something wonderful will always happen. Better believe it, baby!"

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