Observers say it is arguably Oppo’s first big smartphone launch since it entered the region last year
Oppo’s launch of its Reno range in Swiss capital Zurich was a “landmark” moment for the Chinese manufacturer in its bid for European expansion, according to analysts present at the event.
A crowd of around 600 people gathered in the Zurich Exhibition Hall on April 24, including the media, analysts and influencers.
Although Oppo made its first foray into the European smartphone market last year with a launch event in Paris, the debut of the Reno series was arguably the vendor’s first big European smartphone launch.
The range is made up of three smartphones: the Reno, Reno 10x Zoom and Reno 5G. Their launch followed weeks of online teases from the manufacturer, which gave the world glimpses of the devices as part of a marketing campaign dubbed ‘Meet Reno’.
Statement of intent
Anticipation was running high in Zurich, where IDC research manager Marta Pinto said it felt like the company was making a statement of intent.
“We shouldn’t count last year as Oppo arriving in Europe,” she said. “Last year was just a test and to get a flavour of the market. Now marks the beginning of Oppo in Europe.”
uSwitch commercial manager Christine Torlay agrees, noting that the move shows the vendor’s mettle.
“The launch definitely reflected how proud Oppo is of this new series and as a brand has confidence in the handsets doing well in the UK and Europe,” she said.
Canalys senior analyst Ben Stanton said, however, that he didn’t believe the launch was as “glamorous” as Oppo’s “stunning” entrance into Europe in Paris last year, but that Oppo needs to keep putting on these types of event.
“Oppo needs to persist with this type of showpiece marketing, as it still has a lot of customers and channel partners to convince in Europe about being a serious brand,” said Stanton. “The best way to do this is for Oppo to spend money.”
Whereas an array of smartphones feature notches where the camera sits, the Reno series has a different look that the analysts believe provides unique features.
Stanton think the shark-fin-style pop- up camera gives Oppo standout appeal compared with the vendor’s high-street competitors.
“The display is a big draw, along with the mechanical slider for the camera, partly as it’s a form factor that isn’t in too many phones that are mass market yet,” he says. “However, what will really stand out for Oppo in retail stores is the fact that it doesn’t have a notch and instead has a unique shark-fin camera that pops up, which is cool.”
Torlay agrees that the camera set-up is a pull factor. “I’m a big fan of the angled camera: it’s a quirky feature and adds character to the device without compromising screen visibility,” she says.
For Pinto, it’s not just the specs that lend allure to the range, but also Oppo’s pricing strategy.
She pointed out, for example, that the Reno 5G phone starts at €899, considerably cheaper than the price other manufacturers are expected to charge for 5G handsets.
“While the specs are good from Oppo, I was also impressed by the attractive pricing,” she said. “It was a bit of a surprise, but it is making this new technology affordable. Oppo will also make Xiaomi’s life a bit more difficult with this pricing and provide some competition.”
Stanton agrees, feeling Oppo has had a rethink on price since it brought the Find X out last year, recognising a need to be more competitive.
“Oppo has seen that it can’t go toe-to-toe with the big names such as Samsung, which has decades of experience, with price,” said Stanton. “That’s why these competitive prices are much better and I expect this range to pull Oppo more towards the mass market.”
Oppo looks to be seeking to put itself at the forefront of 5G, given that it has already revealed an exclusive network partnership with EE to stock the Reno 5G in the UK.
Throw into the equation that Oppo has launched the device with Swisscom in Switzerland, it is evident that the vendor wants to be at the forefront of the technology.
Indeed, Stanton believes the manufacturer is harnessing 5G as a pull factor to get operators to range its phones.
“Oppo is using 5G as an angle to get its handsets ranged by operators,” says Stanton. “We’ve seen this with Swisscom and will see the same in the UK with EE.
“Operators want as many 5G smartphones as possible in their portfolios, so this new technology provides a gateway for Oppo into the European operators.”
Torlay adds: “It’s great to see a manufacturer bringing a 5G-ready smartphone for well under £1,000. It’s clear to see Oppo has huge intentions to lead on the technology.”
Pinto said the move showcased what the vendor could do. “Oppo has launched a 5G phone to show the world that it can, and it shows the innovation the company can produce at an attractive price,” she said.
She does, however, expect it to take time for 5G to be adopted.
“Oppo is doing its part by bringing a 5G device to the market at a lower price, which well help adoption,” said Pinto. “However, I believe the adoption of 5G will be slower than with 4G. It’s worth remembering that 4G is still strong and has room for development.”
While all the analysts agreed that the Zurich event was a success, they believe Oppo needs to keep developing partnerships and its brand. “Oppo is in the brand-building stage, and the strategy for the company should be to continue getting key partners on board,” said Stanton.
He cited the vendor’s new five-year deal with the All England Tennis Club to become the first official smartphone partner for the Wimbledon Championships as a good example of how it can boost its standing.
“The partnership with Wimbledon is exactly what Oppo needs to do,” said Stanton. “It’s a classy showcase event that is not easy to be associated with. Oppo has obviously shown that its name is worthy of being associated with the Wimbledon Championships.”
Pinto concluded: “The deal with Wimbledon shows Oppo’s mentality of becoming a premium brand and that it is a brand that means business.”