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4G smartphones become price-competitive

With introduction of 5G, brands like Huawei, Oppo, Realme and Apple are rolling back prices on certain high-end models.

4G smartphones are becoming more affordable as 5G networks enter trial operations in China. Firms like Huawei, Oppo, Realme and Apple have offered consumers price-competitive models or dropped prices on 4G flagships.

Startup brand Realme began selling its Realme X2 on Friday with prices from 1,499 yuan (US$214), which helped make it one of the most popular smartphone models on retailers such as JD, Tmall and Suning.

The model features a 64-megapixel camera, full-HD display, in-display fingerprint sensor and Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor. Other models with high-level features are priced between 1,500 and 2,000 yuan.

Xiaomi 9, which features top-level processor Snapdragon855, costs about 2,500 yuan in online stores, already 15 percent lower than its original price. Oppo and Huawei also dropped the prices of their latest 4G flagships by at least 10 percent.

The 5G is not a “must-have” feature in the market but it’s still attractive in the high-end market segment, said Jia Mo, an analyst of researcher with Canalys.

Even in Shanghai, one of the first-batch cities with 5G, signals are limited, according to carriers.

The market situation also forces brands to cut prices to attract users, researchers said.

In 2019, global smartphone production capacity is expected to be 1.38 billion units, down 5 percent from a year ago due to fierce competition and longer smartphone replacement cycles, according to researcher TrendForce.

Apple also launched new 4G models recently in China with lower starting prices. In some online retail stores, the iPhone 11 64GB model is being sold at 4,999 yuan, making it the first new iPhone model to be priced below 5,000 yuan.

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