Samsung and LG Electronics are going to strengthen the lineup of entry-level and mid-range 3G smartphones. On the other hand, their competitors, such as HTC, Nokia (acquired by Microsoft), and Motorola (bought by Lenovo), are accelerating the launch of a new offensive to dominate the mid-range and low-cost smartphone markets. Against this backdrop, the success or failure of the two Korean handset makers to maintain their market share is drawing a lot of attention.
According to industry sources on Feb. 17, LG is expected to unveil four kinds of phones in the middle and lower price range, including the G2 Mini, the L Series III Trio, and the F-series phones at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2014 in Barcelona on Feb. 24. An industry source explained, “I think that one or two types of the F-series will be showcased at the event.”
The L Series III runs Android 4.4 KitKat OS with the latest user experience featured in premium smartphones. To capture various markets, the new 3G smartphones come with a 3.5-inch, a 4.5-inch, or a 4.7-inch display. However, the smartphones are equipped with 1GB or less of RAM, since they are mid-range devices.
LG is expected to unveil a new lineup of low-end and mid-range devices at MWC 2014, and to launch an aggressive sales drive for smartphones in the mid and lower-range price segments. Previously, Yoon Boo-hyun, an executive of LG’s Mobile Communications Division, pointed out, “With the smartphone penetration rates of growing markets such as those in North America and Europe approaching 50 percent, the global market’s center of gravity has shifted to the emerging market.” The executive added, “We are planning to boost sales by strengthening the lineup of entry-level and mid-range 3G smartphones, because the mid to low-end market is leading the entire smartphone market.”
Samsung is also reportedly going to lower the proportion of its premium product lineup consisting of the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note in total smartphone sales, and to expand the share of entry-level and mid-range smartphones up to 50 percent. In particular, the tech company introduced its 3G device, the Galaxy Core Advance, in Korea on Feb. 18, after two years of research and development.
The largest Android phone maker plans to fit both premium smartphones and middle to low-cost phones with its Super AMOLED display, rather than the conventional LCD from the second half of this year. To date, it has been difficult to feature the Super AMOLED display in low-end and mid-range devices, due to high prices.
The two tech giants’ strategies for entry-level and mid-range smartphones is to realize the functions and design of the existing premium products as similarly as possible, and to lower the factory price by reducing unnecessary functions.
Samsung’s and LG’s low-end and mid-range phones are priced at between 400,000 won (US$374.80) and 700,000 won (US$655.90).
The reason for their focus on mid to low-end smartphones lies in the fact that other smartphone manufacturers are aiming for a comeback by targeting the low and mid-range areas of the smartphone market. For instance, Taiwan-based HTC is likely to launch low-cost phones in the price range of US$150 per unit. Nokia is also going to reveal its new mid to low-range Android phones at MWC 2014.