Realme is currently the fourth largest smartphone brand in India after spinning-off from the clutches of Oppo back in 2018. As to how it managed to gain so much popularity over the course of the last three years is a case study in itself. The decisions Realme took considering the volatile Indian smartphone market propelled it to stand against the likes of Xiaomi, Samsung and more. Realme even shed its smartphone roots during its years of infancy and expanded into other consumer electronics categories such as televisions, wired and wireless earphones, smartwatches and other AIoT devices.
Realme grew the most in 2020 in comparison to all the other smartphone brands and kicked off 2021 with the launch of the X7 series earlier this month in India. The Realme X7 marks the arrival of the MediaTek Dimensity 800U processor while the X7 Pro goes a step ahead with the Dimensity 1000+. With the X7, Realme is looking to capture a piece of the sub-Rs 22,000 smartphone segment going up against the likes of the Mi 10i while the X7 Pro is priced at Rs 29,999.
We sat down with Realme CEO Madhav Sheth post the launch of the Realme X7 series and had a chat on the company’s plans for this year, 5G connectivity and its expansion to new product categories. Please note, the interaction has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Realme won’t remove charging adapter from retail box
During the launch of the Realme X7 series, the company laid emphasis on the fact that it was bundling the charging adapter in-the-box, unlike some other smartphone companies. With the iPhone 12, Apple stopped providing charging adapter in the box and Samsung followed suit with the Galaxy S21 series. Realme CEO Madhav Sheth told us that the company has no plans of removing the adapter from the retail box anytime soon.
“What we are trying to give is not readily available in the market. So the point is, even if I tried to sell it separately, users wouldn’t appreciate it at this point of time,” he said. If Realme removes the charger from the box, it gives rise to a potentially bigger problem which is the rise in third-party chargers that won’t be quality tested or approved by Realme. “And because we are trying to fight with the counterfeits also, we do not want the user experience to go down southwards in a way that when people try to buy a charger from the market, and it basically turns out to be a fake,” Madhav added.
Realme absorbed increased custom duty
Recently, the Indian government announced in Budget 2021 that it will be revoking custom duty exemptions on some parts of mobile phones. With this, there’s a fear of smartphone prices going up. So we asked Madhav whether the 2.5 per cent manufacturing duty levied on some hardware parts will impact the overall smartphone prices.
Madhav reassuringly said that the prices of Realme smartphones are unlikely to increase anytime soon due to the new government policy. “We have already absorbed the current price with what we launched today (X7 series) and we will ensure even in the future devices will try to absorb because it’s the bare minimum cost on some of the components that we will try to absorb it. In a way, I think it is one of the bigger initiatives in terms of Make in India which helps us bring the ecosystems or the component manufacturing also into India, which is I think the right direction to move on.”
Realme to disrupt affordable segment with 5G devices
When asked about some of the key trends that will be driving smartphone innovation this year, Madhav immediately responded saying “5G”. Realme and other smartphone companies are already selling 5G smartphones in India since 2020 and this year we will see it on even more affordable devices. “People would love to experience 5G devices without compromising on the 4G specs as well. That will be one of the biggest disruptions what we are trying to bring to this market,”
On new product categories
We weren’t letting Madhav go before asking him whether Realme will be expanding into other product categories in 2021. He confirmed that the company is looking to venture into multiple new product categories and also teased laptops as a potential category.
The company has already confirmed that it is planning to launch over 100 new AIoT products in 2021 including TWS earphones, smart TVs, smart plugs, trimmers, LED bulbs and more.
“We had a user pool feedback from our community where a lot of feedbacks had come in. Specifically, the major feedback came on laptops and our R&D teams are working on all the feedbacks and definitely, you will see a lot of products coming this particular year, ”he added.