China’s Itel targets SA’s Gen Z with entry-level smartphone

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The Itel Vision1 Pro entry-level smartphone costs R1 699.
The Itel Vision1 Pro entry-level smartphone costs R1 699.

Chinese phone brand Itel is looking to “democratise” smartphone technology in SA, taking on established players in the entry-level category.

Itel – owned by China’s Transsion Holdings, which is also behind the Tecno and Infinix brands – is launching its Vision1 Pro entry-level smartphone in SA.

The device costs R1 699 and will take on other mostly Chinese brands which have descended on the country in recent months.

Itel’s products are mainly sold in Zimbabwe and some parts of Africa, South Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Last March, Transsion made its South African debut, announcing local availability of Tecno smartphones from major retail stores and online outlets.

Of late, there has been an influx of Chinese smartphone brands in SA, with analysts saying the high smartphone penetration rate makes the country a lucrative market for smartphone producers.

As Huawei faces restrictions in the US, analysts recently told ITWeb this will likely play a role in local consumers opting for other Android-powered Chinese brands.

With a smartphone penetration rate of 91.2%, according to the Independent Communications Authority of SA’s latest State of the ICT Sector report, SA is witnessing new Chinese smartphone providers entering the market.

Other Chinese brands also trying to crack the South African market are Oppo and Vivo, which are owned by BBK Electronics.

The Vision1 Pro smartphone harnesses a HD+ 6.5-inch Waterdrop Fullscreen display, and it is powered by a quad-core UNISOC CPU that supports 4G LTE.

Itel’s Vision1 Pro comes with 32GB storage memory and 2GB RAM, and a 6.5-inch HD + Drop display.

It is also equipped with an 8MP + QVGA rear camera and 5MP front camera, and features face unlock and fingerprint sensors.

In a statement, Itel says in the next five to 10 years, the democratisation of technology will be one of the key drivers of disruption and how new opportunities are created in the world.

It notes that global research and advisory firm Gartner places democratisation only behind the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning (hyperautomation) and advances in people-literate technologies in terms of impact in the next decade.

“Democratisation essentially means that people will be provided easy access to technical or business expertise without extensive and costly training. In simpler terms, it is ‘citizen access’ to technologies, says the company.

“However, if there is to be true democratisation, affordability – and therefore access – will be key. The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa exposed severe shortcomings in this regard,” it adds.

Nonetheless, Itel believes things are changing, noting that a data study by Android Authority shows that while there was a noticeable increase in the typical price for the most expensive flagship model smartphones in 2020, there was a “barely noticeable” increase in prices of affordable models.

Itel says after years of development, it has expanded its brand in 50 emerging markets globally and African business.

It notes it has devoted a significant amount of time to understanding what millennial and Gen Z consumers, many of them students, want from a phone.

“Technology that is able to enhance their social connection experience is high on their list of priorities, and considering that Gen Z represents 27.5 million people in South Africa and millennials a further 14 million, it stands to reason that Itel is placing so much emphasis on meeting their expectations.”

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