The idea of this material arose suddenly, when I came across the recently published August performance rating Android – smartphones from the creators of the popular AnTuTu benchmark. Looking at it, you can draw a number of interesting conclusions. We will talk about them today.
- Nine out of ten Chinese
- Performance and manufacturability are no longer a high price justification
- A-brands need to learn again to surprise us
- Cameras almost caught up with the leaders
- Screen scanner – almost standard, but so far only for the Chinese
- Flagship chipset is no longer expensive
- China is actively entering the international market
- Everything is fine, but there are two “buts”
Nine out of ten Chinese
Surprising but true: there is only one smartphone in this ranking that is not Chinese, and that is the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (Snapdragon 845). Any comments are superfluous.
Performance and manufacturability are no longer a high price justification
Chinese flagships are cheaper, sometimes even half as much as smartphones from A-brands, but at the same time they are more productive. This means that A-brands have finally lost one of their trump cards and now cannot justify the high price of their gadgets with the power and relevance of hardware. The entire TOP 10 AnTuTu runs on the most productive chipset for Android – devices – Snapdragon 845, which means it gets all the most relevant technologies tied to a single-chip system. This is a 10-nm process technology, and top-end graphics Adreno 630, and “pumped-over” artificial intelligence, and a coprocessor for image processing Spectra 280, and a Snapdragon X20 modem that supports an extensive list of LTE networks. That is, the point is not only and not so much in performance, but also in access to the most modern and trendy hardware chips.
A-brands need to learn again to surprise us
In this situation, there is only one thing for A-brands – to re-learn to surprise us and the market as a whole. And to surprise us so that we would like to overpay 1.5-2 prices for it. After all, the performance and technology of SoC is not the only trump card that is lost against the background of Chinese devices.
The fate of the market depends on whether they come up with something that can surpass the Celestial Empire. If not, then I see only two scenarios. Or A-brands will start to reduce the price to the level of Chinese flagships, which will negatively affect their financial performance and, most likely, the quality of the devices themselves (they will save on everything they can). Or they will finally cede the flagship market to Chinese companies.
Cameras almost caught up with the leaders
Another trump card that recognized giants are losing are cameras. Going back several generations of flagships, it was safe to say that the cameras of Chinese smartphones are much inferior to those of Samsung, Apple, Google Pixel. But if we take the current generation of devices, then the gap, if any, is minimal. Let's take the three participants in the August AnTuTu rankings: Xiaomi Mi 8, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, OnePlus 6 – they are among the top 10 in the DXOMark rankings. Meizu 16th this resource has not yet been evaluated, but, according to the reviews of fellow journalists, including Roman Belykh (Review Meizu 16th), the quality of the images is comparable to Pixel 3 and only slightly inferior Huawei P20 Pro (DXOMark leader).
Screen scanner – almost standard, but so far only for the Chinese
Three members of the TOP-10 from AnTuTu have an on-screen fingerprint scanner, these are Meizu 16th, Vivo Nex and Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition. Judging by the reviews of colleagues who held Meizu 16th in their hands, the scanner is accurate and quite fast. Yes, it is still inferior in speed to classic scanners, but it is quite comfortable to use.
Surprisingly, here the Chinese became pioneers. According to rumors, the next generation of Samsung Galaxy will receive a similar scanner, but this will only be in early 2019. iPhone will most likely not receive this technology at all, since Apple believes in Face ID. Sony, LG or Pixel have not yet heard about the implementation of a screen scanner.
Flagship chipset is no longer expensive
If we talk about the prices for smartphones from the TOP-10 of AnTuTu, then almost all of them are in the range of 40-50 thousand rubles (PCT). However Xiaomi continues to methodically lower this bar. First, the Chinese company released Mi 8 with an official Russian price of 30,000 rubles, and then launched the Pocophone sub-brand, the debut device of which is sold for almost 20,000! At some point, it may even seem that the dollar is 30 again …
At the same time, almost all current PCT flagships from Apple, Samsung, Sony and HTC are outside of 50 thousand rubles.
China is actively entering the international market
If earlier in the AnTuTu ratings one could find many exotic smartphones for our market, now almost all TOP-10 participants are either already sold in Russia, or sales in Russia are planned.
Vivo Nex, Xiaomi Mi 8, OnePlus 6, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S is already available in Russia.
Meizu 16th and Oppo Find X are available for pre-order.
Xiaomi Black Shark S1, Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition may appear on the international stage, including in Russia, but this is still in the plans.
Only one device, the Smartisan Nut R1, has no plans to expand outside of China.
Everything is fine, but there are two “buts”
Firstly, it happens that the Chinese “cheat” and “take doping”. News feeds regularly report how a particular Chinese manufacturer is manipulating the results of synthetic tests. The point of “cheating” is that when you run a popular benchmark on your smartphone, all possible limitations are disabled in hardware. The device can raise the processor clock speed to a level that is unattainable for other applications and games, disable thermoregulation and increase power consumption. And this is all just for the sake of beautiful numbers in the benchmark.
Just the other day, Huawei got caught on this, earlier OnePlus and Meizu were included in the cheater lists, but in fairness it should be noted that Samsung, Motorola, Google and HTC are also not sinless in this regard.
By the way, no one has had any questions about the devices from the TOP-10 of August, but maybe they have not been checked yet.
Secondly, the current situation in the market arose on the eve of the launch of a new generation chipset – Snapdragon 855, which will be presented either at the end of 2018 or at the beginning of 2019. It is likely that Qualcomm is giving away its SoCs at a good discount, freeing warehouses from the gradually aging flagship. Other suppliers of components may do the same due to the imminent change of generations.
It was the beginning of the end of the Snapdragon 845 era that could be the driver for the emergence of inexpensive devices with top-end hardware. It is difficult to imagine the appearance of a successor to Pocophone based on Snapdragon 855 in the first half of 2019 at a similar price or the same conditional Xiaomi Mi 8S with 855 for the same 30 thousand rubles.
Chinese brands have long had a strong influence on the smartphone market. But if earlier their hostilities extended mainly to the budget and medium segments, now a full-scale attack on the flagship front has begun. Yes, still with some reservations, but it's only a matter of time. I am sure that a hot autumn and an even more interesting 2019 are ahead of us. We stock up on popcorn, as they say.