The iPhone offers better user experience despite higher prices

Updated 2017-09-21 10:01:06 Global Times

Chinese consumers stand by iPhone

Chinese mobile phone maker Huawei has depicted Apple as an enemy in its self-promotion on overseas social media platforms, at a time when it is about to launch a new product, but Chinese users told the Global Times on Wednesday that they stand by iPhone for its better user experience.

According to overseas media reports, Huawei uploaded a video on its Facebook page around September 15 showing an unhappy clown emoji failing to unlock its own phone, which mocked the Face ID function on Apple's newly launched iPhone X.

Huawei had withdrawn the video as of press time.

In a promotional video for the new Mate 10 phone posted by Huawei on its Twitter page on September 11, an entire Apple is gradually consumed with the caption "Take the next step with Huawei." Huawei declined to be interviewed by the Global Times on Wednesday.

Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based independent Internet analyst, said that it's "an interesting phenomenon that domestic phonemakers have the same dream of challenging Apple."

Another domestic phone maker, Meizu, has described its mobile phone MX5 as "maybe slightly better looking than iPhone" in an advertising campaign.

"To some extent, it shows that domestic mobile phones are catching up fast, but I would say that the iPhone leaves domestic phones behind in terms of user experience and technologies," Liu told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The Global Times interviewed several people who own both iPhones and domestic mobile phones, and most of them told the Global Times that their user experience with the iPhone is better.

Liu said he has used iPhones and almost all domestic mobile phones. "The opening of an app will take a longer time on a domestic phone than on an iPhone. Also, some domestic phone makers boast a higher-pixel camera than the iPhone, but still the imaging effect is no better than on an iPhone camera," Liu said.

Another Beijing-based user named Li told the Global Times that she used to be a fan of Huawei but abandoned the brand after her Mate 8 battery proved to be short-lived and sometimes failed to recharge.

Liu said that the gap in user experience between iPhones and domestic phones stems from the fact that domestic phone makers still lack the two most fundamental technologies: mobile systems (iPhone has its own system iOS) and central processing units (CPUs).

Most domestic high-end mobile phones use CPUs made by U.S.-based Qualcomm as well as the Google-invented Android system, experts said.

Wang Mengxuan, an analyst at Beijing-based market consultancy iResearch, said that compared with the Android system, the iOS has advantages such as faster Graphics Processing Unit acceleration, which makes phones operate more smoothly.

"Compared with Samsung, which also uses Android, domestic mobile phones still have a big loophole in terms of key technologies, and that has given them less freedom in terms of supply chain management," Wang told the Global Times on Wednesday.

But Xiang Ligang, chief executive of domestic telecom industry portal, said that the technical gap between the iPhone and domestic phones is getting narrower. He cited the example of a domestic brand Sugar, which launched a full-screen phone that costs about 1,000 yuan (2).

"Apple has not used this technology yet on its iPhones," he told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Despite the user experience gap, domestic phone makers are becoming almost as popular as Apple on the global market, and they already lead the domestic market.

Data from market research company Strategy Analytics showed that in the second quarter of this year, Huawei's global shipments reached 38.4 million, slightly lower than 41 million units for the iPhone. Another popular domestic phone maker Oppo shipped 29.5 million units globally, according to the data.

In China, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi all surpassed Apple in the second quarter in terms of shipments, data from industry research firm IDC showed in August.

Liu said that the relatively cheap prices of domestic phones have been a key reason. "Some domestic phone makers also realized that it's not 'the cheaper, the better,' and they have to find a balance between user experience and price. I think Vivo has done a good job on finding the balance," he noted.

He also said that stronger promotional efforts are another reason, as "you can see that Apple seldom advertises in the media, but domestic brands invest big money in promotion," he said.

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