Why Are Smartphones Flocking to the Philippines?


The new smartphones are pretty hard to miss, especially the cheap ones. Some of these can compete with international flagships of Samsung and Apple, both in design and performance. So there must be a catch right? There can’t be that big of a price difference and not have a caveat?

Turns out, though, these devices are the real deal. These are refined, extremely functional, and well-engineered phones. Some of the specifications differ from the industry standards, but these have been created so well you really wouldn’t notice. Multitasking is seamless, there’s no lack of media playback, and many of them feel premium to the hand.

So how come there’s so many of them in the country?

Smartphone Country

With a 20% year-over-year growth, the Philippines is the fastest growing Southeast Asian market for smartphones. That’s a big opportunity for manufacturers, especially for Chinese brands who have the production clout to meet the high demand. The local vendors are not to be outpaced, however, as they maintain a major hold on the vendor share at 53%, IDC says.

More than that, there’s also the reality that brands such as Sony, Samsung, Apple, and Google are either too expensive or their lineup is too small. Sony and Samsung do have a cheaper lineup, but most of them lack too much for their price. That provided room for brands like OPPO, VIVO, Huawei, ASUS, and MyPhone to move into the market.

It’s a Simple Choice

Let’s take Samsung’s J7 Prime and the VIVO V5s. The J7 Prime is Samsung’s second-best mid-range phone: a full HD TFT screen, 3 GB RAM, 32GB of internal storage (with 256GB SD card slot), and a 3600mAh battery. All these come for P12,499, which is just about the best smartphone for most Filipinos.

The V5s is the same price, has a 4 GB RAM, the same OS, same storage capacities, and a better camera. Its screen, though a lower resolution, is IPS and that means crisp colors. The only real drawback is the smaller battery. The OPPO F1s is on the same level of specs and much cheaper. And the ASUS Zenfone 3 Laser is probably the biggest steal at this price point, going toe-to-toe with the higher-ranked J7 Pro and goes on sale often.

This is a simple comparison, and when you go deeper, you’ll see that big brands have met their match in these young companies. You may say that these small margins matter, but for most Filipinos who just want something adequate, these phones are already excessive in what they provide. It would make no sense for them to buy a more expensive smartphone.

It’s hard to deny the tech lover in the Filipinos, especially with phones this cheap and powerful. And with smartphones now a necessity to daily life, they’re getting a lot in return with these smartphones.

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