Xiaomi is gunning for Samsung and Huawei in South Africa

Xiaomi has seen significant growth in South Africa since establishing a dedicated local team in the country at the end of 2020.

This is according to Xiaomi South Africa marketing manager Nicola Nell, who recently spoke to MyBroadband about the Chinese tech giant’s plans for the country.

On a global level, Xiaomi recently surpassed Apple to become the second-largest manufacturer by smartphone shipments in the second quarter of 2021. It was second only to South Korean behemoth Samsung.

Nell pointed out that shipments into Africa increased by over 150% during the same quarter, demonstrating Xiaomi’s focus on expanding its business on the continent.

Xiaomi first came to South Africa six years ago through several distributors and resellers but only established a dedicated local team at the end of last year.

Nell said Xiaomi has now earmarked South Africa as a “Level 1 strategic growth priority”, which means people can look forward to further growth in the coming months.

The company first started offering devices on Vodacom contracts in November 2020, and is working on agreements to offer its smartphones on postpaid with the country’s other major mobile network operators.

Nicola Nell, Xiaomi South Africa marketing manager

Xiaomi’s main competitors in South Africa are its Android rivals with competing devices in the mid-range and budget categories.

It could potentially fill the gaping hole left by another well-known and established Chinese brand that once dominated the local market – Huawei.

Coinciding with a massive drop in global sales, Huawei’s appeal has also waned in South Africa.

Its lack of support for Google Mobile Services (GMS) due to an ongoing ban on US firms from doing business with the company has turned out to be a big deterrent for sales.

Huawei has also been cut off from leading chip manufacturers, which has made it difficult to continue producing large numbers of flagship smartphones.

While the company’s South African division typically runs launch events that coincide with big international releases, there was little to no local exposure for the Huawei P50 in August.

Huawei is not the only manufacturer from which Xiaomi could snatch market share.

The company’s highly attractive price-to-performance ratio often gives it an edge over market leader Samsung.

As Nell puts it, “consumers can get their hands on excellent specs and capabilities, at a cost that is affordable”.

For example, its Redmi Note 10 Pro retails for R4,999 at Vodacom.

That’s the same price as Samsung’s Galaxy A32 LTE, despite offering much better hardware in almost all respects, as shown in the table below.

Specifications Samsung Galaxy A32 LTE Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
OS Android 11 Android 11
Display 6.4-inch 1,080 x 2,400 AMOLED with 90Hz refresh rate 6.67-inch 1,080 x 2,400 AMOLED with 120Hz refresh rate
Processor Mediatek Helio G80 (AnTuTu 8 score: 198,438) Snapdragon 732G (AnTuTu 8 score: 278,992)
Storage 128GB, microSDXC 128GB, microSDXC
Rear Camera 64MP + 8MP +5MP + 5MP 108MP + 8MP + 5MP +2MP
Front Camera 20MP 16MP
Network LTE LTE
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1
Biometrics Under-display fingerprint reader Side-mounted fingerprint reader
Battery and charging 5,000mAh
15W fast charging
33W fast charging
Dimensions 158.9 x 73.6 x 8.4 mm (184g) 164 x 76.5 x 8.1 mm (193g)
Retail price R4,999 R4,999

Nell said Xiaomi will be launching new devices later this year and in early 2022, but was unable to share which models will be available in South Africa.

“We can guarantee that they will set the market on fire and are what our Xiaomi fans have been waiting for,” Nell stated.

Aside from smartphones, Xiaomi also offers more than 2,000 smart home products, including robot vacuums, hairdryers, kettles, smart lights, smart speakers and TV boxes.

Xiaomi’s AIoT [Artificial Intelligence of Things] products are very popular as the price points of these intelligent appliances means that all South Africans have access to smart and interconnected homes and offices,” Nell said.

The company is planning to launch Xiaomi branded stores in various locations in South Africa, but no dates have been finalised for these openings yet.

Now read: I used a R1,700 smartphone for a week — and was surprised by the experience

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Xiaomi is gunning for Samsung and Huawei in South Africa