Chinese Best Phone Manufacturers and Their Sub-brands

It seems that China’s leading smartphone brands are all trying to improve their market competitiveness and expand market share through setting up new sub-brands. Vivo recently joined its rivals Huawei, Xiaomi, and OPPO, in announcing its sub-brand iQOO.

Vivo and iQOO – I Quest On and On

  • Brand: vivo
  • Sub-brand: iQOO
  • Release date: Feb. 12, 2019
  • Newest product: iQOO smartphone (in China)
iQOO sub-brand of vivo
iQOO sub-brand of vivo (photo source: iQOO)

On the morning of Feb. 12, a brand-new smartphone account named iQOO made its debut on Weibo saying “Hello, this is iQOO”, and soon vivo reposted it with “Welcome a new friend this year”.

Then on March 1, iQOO unveiled its first smartphone, featuring a Snapdragon 855 chipset, 12GB of RAM, 4000mAh large battery, and a 6.41-inch OLED screen with a waterdrop notch. The phone is now available for order in China, with a price starting from about $450.

Early in 2010, vivo has already planned to release a sub-brand, aiming for younger and international market. According to Feng Yufei, the vice president of iQOO, iQOO stands for “I Quest On and On”, marching “a new start of march and exploration” for vivo.

Xiaomi and Redmi – budget-friendly phones

Early in 2013, the brand Redmi was created as a new product line of Xiaomi smartphone rather than a sub-brand. At that time, China’s phone market was flooded with a large number of low-price copycats. Xiaomi seized the opportunity to hit the market with budget-friendly Redmi series phones. After entering the Indian market, Redmi excelled at quickly occupying the emerging market, which successfully surpassed Samsung to become the NO. 1 smartphone brand in India.

Redmi, sub-brand of Xiaomi (photo source: xiaomi)

In January this year, Redmi officially became an independent sub-brand of Xiaomi. “The separation allows Xiaomi to focus on different consumer groups. Redmi and Xiaomi are independent brands and can be developed in different directions to help enhance the overall brand image.” Lei Jun, CEO of Xiaomi, announced on Weibo, “With the ultimate budget-friendly Redmi focusing on its e-commerce channel, it guides the company’s Mi series further onto the path of higher-end market and new retail.”

An inherent impression would be, the reason why people buy Xiaomi is they cannot afford other phones. Xiaomi is now trying to get rid of it.

Pocophone, sub company of Xiaomi in India
Pocophone, sub company of Xiaomi in India (photo source: Xiaomi)

For further expansions, Xiaomi also launched its sub-brand Pocophone in India. Its first product, the Pocophone F1, has a high-end phone configuration but with low pricing.

OPPO and Realme – targeting Southeast Asia market

  • Brand: OPPO
  • Sub-brand: Realme
  • Founded: May 4, 2018
  • Newest product: Realme 3 (in India)

Frankly speaking, I didn’t know anything about the Realme, China’s big smartphone manufacturer OPPO’s sub-brand, until the new release of the Realme 3 in India. The brand was officially established on May 4, 2018, and it mainly target the Southeast Asian market, including India and Indonesia. It gained over 4 million users within 7 months.

Realme 3 smartphone (photo source: Realme)

Launched in May, 2018, Realme 1 is the first product of the line targeting Indian young consumers exclusively. Realme 3, released on March 5 is yet another powerhouse with an affordable price tag. To start with, it features a 6.22-inch Dewdrop notch design and a HD+ resolution 1520×720 pixels. Its screen-to-body ratio is 88.3 percent with an aspect ratio of 19:9.

Huawei and Honor

  • Brand: Huawei
  • Sub-brand: Honor
  • Founded: 2013
  • Newest product: Honor V20

In 2013, Chinese companies like Xiaomi were already on the rise, taking up a huge share of the Chinese smartphone market. Huawei decided to join the competition of the mid-range market, and Honor was launched. The brand has been striving for stylish, top performance products with cutting-edge design to meet the needs of young people.

Honor V20 launch
Honor V20 launch

In the Q3 of 2018, Huawei’s smartphone ranked NO.1 in terms of smartphone shipments, contributing half of the total, according to Counterpoint. Now Honor still focuses on the Internet channel, young user groups and continues to contribute to Huawei’s reputation. Honor, like Huawei, also covers various online and offline products, including tablets, notebooks, wearables and smart home devices.

Setting up a sub-brand is popular for large manufacturers to cater to different groups of people, and keep the competitive edge in the fierce market. So far, Chinese leading smartphone companies, such as Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo, Lenovo, and ZTE, all have their own sub-brands. Considering the current landscape dominated by the major manufacturers, will the new sub-brands survive in the ever more drastic competition? Time will tell.

Featured photo credit to Xiaomi