Apple (AAPL) iPhone 5C: Top 4 Domestic Chinese Smartphone Competitors

  @SophieXSong on September 13 2013 6:23 AM
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Lei Jun, founder and CEO of China's mobile company Xiaomi, speaks at a launch ceremony of Xiaomi Phone 2 in Beijing August 16, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL)’s announcement of its new iPhone models, the 5S and the 5C, was greeted with widespread disappointment on Tuesday. The Chinese were especially dissatisfied with Apple’s failed promise of a more affordable model -- the lower spec 5C will still cost 4,488 yuan ($733,57) -- and they are entitled to be, because they have a number of other low-cost, high-spec smartphones from domestic startups to choose from.

Here are four of the latest domestic Chinese smartphones that will likely prove to be fierce competition for Apple’s iPhone 5C, which a Chinese Weibo user has quipped looks like an expensive, colorful potato peeler.

On top of these native stars, Apple also has to grapple with international competitors such as Huawei, HTC and Samsung for the Chinese market. Apple already saw its China market share drop from 9 percent to 5 percent between Q2 of 2012 and Q2 of 2013, and things might get even worse for Tim Cook now that the 5C has missed the mark.

• Mi3 from Xiaomi Inc. 

Xiaomi is valued at $10 billion, sold 7 million units last year and is on track to sell 20 million this year. It has also just poached Hugo Barra from Google, according to the Guardian. With such bold moves, it’s no wonder that the company has been dubbed China’s Apple, or in some cases, the next Apple, by the media.

But Xiaomi is not all talk -- its Mi3 smartphone has everyone convinced the company has the hardware to back up its ambition. For just 1,999 yuan for the 16GB model, the Mi3 is a big, 5-inch slab of Android running Nvidia’s Tegra 4 Chip, the first smartphone with that cutting-edge gaming processor, according to PC Magazine, with a price tag that is less than half of the 5C.

• MX3 from Meizu Technology Co., Ltd.

Meizu was founded in 2003, and made its name with MP3 players. Its MX smartphone was released in June 2012 and its MX2 in December 2012. In the eight months since its release, more than 1 million units of the MX2 have been sold.

Meizu just announced its newest model, the MX3, which will be released at the end of September. The model will feature a 5.1-inch touch screen and the new Samsung Exynos 5410 chip, and it will be the first smartphone to have 128 GB of internal memory, according to Mysinchew.com, a Chinese-language news outlet in Malaysia. The best part is, the MX3 will retail for about 2,500 to 3,000 yuan, and the older MX2 will drop down to just 1,699 yuan.

• Vibe X from Lenovo Group Limited (HKG:0992)

Earlier this month, Lenovo unveiled its newest smartphone, the Vibe X, an incredibly thin 5-inch smartphone featuring a 1080p IPS LCD screen, which Lenovo is calling a “20/20 vision” display, covered with a layer of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3 with beveled edges. The phone is powered by a quad-core 1.5GHz MediaTek processor and features 2GB of RAM, but weighs just 4.26 ounces, according to the Gigaom.

The Vibe X will go on sale in China in October. Prices have not be released, but will likely be on the costlier side of Lenovo’s smartphone offerings, which range from less than 1,000 yuan to 3,200 yuan, which is still cheaper than the iPhone for a bigger screen and more gigabytes.

• Zopo C2 from Zopo Mobile

Zopo runs on Android, has a full high-definition screen and a 13.1 megapixel camera as well as a high-speed graphic processor, according to the Wall Street Journal. Just like Xiaomi, most of Zopo’s units sold online, but the brand also has 100 retail stores across China. The company also has a C3, which targets female consumers (it comes in pink), and both retail for around 1,500 yuan, cheaper than even its domestic competitors.

If you have not heard of Zopo before, you might have heard of its collaborator for the C2 -- Aliyun, a subsidiary of Jack Ma’s Alibaba that specializes in technological research and development.

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