5G take up in the Australian market has been relatively slow but it looks set to take off in the next year or two as all smartphone manufacturers look to bring 5G to most if not all of their handsets. One company that is now focusing on the 5G market is realme, a fledgling company making waves around the world.

Born out of OPPO, realme have made a name for themselves offering decent quality phones at a fraction of the cost of what you’d expect to pay. Recently we had a chance to discuss some of realme’s plan with their Australian Managing Director, Andy Yang, who gave us a peek behind the curtain at realme.

How have you seen consumer 5G perceptions shift over the past 12 months?

Aussie consumers are now viewing 5G as a ‘must have’ instead of a ‘nice to have’, and we are witnessing strong growth of 5G devices across the market and realme’s own product range. This is due to a growing understanding of the benefits 5G connectivity brings and the importance it holds in future-proofing the value of devices.

Consumer accessibility to 5G is set to open up too, and this will likely spur on more interest in 5G. In fact, there are reports that 5G coverage will be available to almost 75% of Australia’s population very soon. The widespread availability of 5G, coupled with a broader awareness of its benefits, will only encourage even more Aussies to take advantage of this connectivity over the next 12 months.

How will greater adoption of 5G impact the wearable technology market?

Consumer appetite for wearable devices is growing. This became particularly noticeable during the COVID-19 pandemic, when lockdowns during this period caused a shift in the lifestyles of Aussies. While being restricted to homes, many started to prioritise health and fitness; using wearable devices and trackers to help achieve wellness goals.

As Australia makes its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic (ed: this was written before Victoria’s latest lockdown) and establishes some level of normality, we don’t anticipate this consumer interest in wearables to subside. In fact, with the introduction of 5G, this will likely spur on even more interest.

5G enables greater data transmission speeds and has much lower latency, offering up perfect connectivity conditions for data to be shared across wearable devices at a much quicker rate than before. This will raise the bar for IoT innovation, leading to the development of a new generation of wearable devices that provide an even better consumer experience and capture the attention of more Aussies.

Why are we seeing the growing popularity of mid-tier smartphone models?

There is no doubt that Australia’s mid-tier smartphone market is heating up. Consumers are realising they don’t need to pay thousands of dollars in order to get their hands on a smartphone that delivers great performance and impressive specs.

Naturally, as demand for the mid-tier and entry market increases, so does the competition. A number of brands are turning their attention to bringing to market devices packed with all the features Aussie’s love the most at a much lower price point than we’ve seen previously. At realme, we welcome this competition. I believe it’s essential to driving innovation across the entire smartphone market.

For us, prioritising research & development alongside innovation has been key to producing affordable devices that come equipped with modern design, strong performance and high quality. It’s essential to achieving our goal of bringing to market pound for pound the best smartphones in Australia.

What are the three key features consumers prioritise when purchasing a mid-tier smartphone?

Operating in a market that evolves so rapidly means we need to keep our finger on the pulse when it comes to knowing the preferences of our consumers; making sure we launch devices that align exactly with what they want from a technology brand.

Research we commissioned earlier this year found that when consumers purchase a smartphone, long battery life is the most important factor influencing their purchase decisions, followed by high quality and value for money. (ed: I’d say a decent camera would be well up there too — what do you think?)

Alongside this, our most recent research also found that NFC enabled devices have increased in consumer importance by a staggering 9% since 2020. Given the growing popularity of this tap and pay feature, we want to ensure that it can be accessed by all consumers despite budget sizes. This is why our latest entry-level device, the realme C21, comes equipped with NFC alongside the other features Aussies value the most, all for under $200 (ed: read our review of the realme C21 here).

What shifts are you seeing within the Australian smartphone market more broadly?

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly impacted smartphone purchasing behaviours. We found that it drove consumers to purchase their smartphones outright from local online stores, while also extending the replacement cycle of their devices.

Alongside shifting purchasing habits brought around by Covid-19, consumer smartphone preferences are also changing. As I mentioned earlier, rapid innovation is driving forward more impressive smartphone features that are available at a much lower price point than we have previously seen. This means that Aussie consumers are steering away from top-tier, expensive smartphone purchases in replacement of affordable, mid-range devices that come packed with the features they need without breaking the bank.

What does the future hold for Australia’s smartphone market?

The future of Australia’s smartphone market is exciting. Interest in the mid-range and low-cost smartphone price brackets is quickly growing as consumers realise they don’t have to pay a hefty price in order to purchase a device that is packed with plenty of impressive features.

At realme, we strive to be a key player in offering plenty of affordable technologies to Aussies. We will remain committed to growing our product ecosystem with a range of devices that cater to the needs of all consumers and are ultimately ‘pound for pound’ the best value for money. I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds!

realme signalled their intention over 12 months ago to make a strong push into our market and with this strategy mentioned above they are not only looking to continue that push but also grow their offerings into areas other than smartphones. They are not the only player in the entry and mid-level smartphone market that offers great value for money and I would go as far as saying the mid-level market is the most competitive segment of our market at the moment so they certainly have their work cut out for them — one thing for sure though, they seem to know what they need to do. It’s the execution of that plan that will tell all.

Who knows where the pandemic will take us in the next 12 months but even after the pandemic the value for money devices will always be sought after. Bring on more affordable and more extensive 5G coverage so we can all enjoy it I say.