[Editorial] Expert Insight: Carolina Milanesi Talks Samsung Galaxy A Series and the Future of Mid-range Smartphones

Post Contents

You would be forgiven for thinking a phone with 5G connectivity, multiple cameras, and a world class display only exists at the upper echelons of the smartphone market, with a price to match. But Samsung has taken a no-compromises approach to the mid-tier smartphone category for several years, pushing innovation to bring users across the world cutting-edge features.

The Galaxy A series is the hallmark of Samsung’s approach to mid-range devices. Devices like the Galaxy A51/A71, the latest in the series, feature 5G connectivity, an all-new macro lens, and a stunning Infinity-O Display. Samsung’s efforts to bring these innovative features to a wider audience haven’t gone unnoticed.

Carolina Milanesi, Principal at Creative Strategies and Founder of the technology market research and consultancy firm, The Heart of Tech, recently wrote a column about the mid-tier smartphone market. Here’s what she had to say about the landscape of the smartphone market and Samsung’s approach to the mid-range category1.

Not Every Mid-Tier Smartphone is Created Equal

For many years, mid-tier devices were mostly designed as a stripped-down version of a higher-end device. Brands would start from a higher-end device and lower the feature-set to hit the price they thought was right. Often this meant that phones aimed at emerging markets did not quite feel as if they were designed for the users in that market. There was a disconnect between wants and needs and the product, which in turn was impacting what potential customers were prepared to pay.

Another side effect of this lack of focus was that consumers might have preferred to opt for a refurbished or secondhand flagship product or a new but older version of that flagship model. In the last couple of years, we have seen a drastic change in the way some top brands have been addressing the needs of consumers in this space.

In September 2018, Samsung’s Mobile CEO at the time, DJ Koh, made a decision that left some industry watchers puzzled. He announced a change in its mid-tier strategy. Koh wanted to bring to market new technology in its mid-tier portfolio first, rather than its flagship products, at first trying to appeal to the growing numbers of millennials across the world who were in the market for a phone but saw flagship models just out of reach.

Before the year was over, we saw the first example of what Koh envisioned in the Galaxy A8s, the first Samsung’s phone with an Infinity-O Hole-punch display. Then in early 2019, at an Unpacked -like launch event in Bangkok, Thailand and Milan, Italy, Samsung introduced the Galaxy A80, sporting Samsung’s first slide up triple camera system and an in-display fingerprint sensor.

As the Galaxy A series grew, so did the number of countries where Samsung started to bring these products with skews that addressed both consumers’ needs and the competitive landscape.

The Times They Are a Changing in the US

Historically, the Galaxy A series phones found in the US were unlocked and mostly international models not optimized for the American networks or market dynamics. Then earlier this month, Samsung announced a whole set of Galaxy A models that will come to the US market starting early this summer.

In the portfolio, two models stand out: the A71 5G and the A51 5G, two devices that bring 5G to the $600 and $500 price points. As 5G networks continue to roll out, it is clear that carriers cannot only rely on high-end buyers to get their return on the huge infrastructure investment they made. This is not the same economic and technologic environment of the past.

Back in 2008/2009, we were still at the very beginning of the smartphone market. Innovation around software, cameras and 4G technology were converging, giving consumers a solid reason to upgrade from their feature phones. Today most consumers have a capable smartphone already. It might not be the latest model, but it does the job. This means that, as their disposable income is restricted, if they need to upgrade their phone, they will be driven by core purchase drivers such as display size and quality, camera, and battery.

For those consumers who are particularly pragmatic and usually hold on to their device for three to four years, they might also be interested in future-proofing their purchase when it comes to cellular and buying an affordable 5G device might look appealing.

The current economic environment might also bring to the US a trend that has been developing in Europe: the resurgence of the corporate-liable smartphones in the enterprise market. Having mid-tier devices that tick the box on crucial features will help organizations provide a full portfolio of options that are attractive to users. Samsung’s ability to have Knox support across the portfolio, including the Galaxy A series product, provides differentiation for enterprises looking at Android devices that have attractive features at a lower cost.

What About Cannibalization?

If you are a consumer, having options is great. If you are an investor or an industry watcher, however, you might be concerned about the cannibalization that products like the Galaxy A series might bring to the flagship models. Well, you should not worry. I take you back from the start of this article, where I talked about how the needs of consumers who could not afford a flagship product were met: older models and secondhand devices. These will be the two main markets that will be impacted. Vendors will benefit from higher satisfaction and higher engagement that the newer features these mid-tier devices offer will drive in their users. In turn, that satisfaction and engagement might drive unique revenue opportunities from adjacent product categories like wearables or new services2.

# # #

A No Compromises Approach

As Milanesi’s analysis shows, Samsung has doubled down on its no compromises approach to mid-range devices with the Galaxy A51/A71. Whether for gamers, photographers, or those that just want a reliable, full-featured device to drive daily productivity, the latest A series devices come with a suite of enviable features.

Sporting a macro lens, users can now get up close to their subjects to capture the details we might otherwise miss. With 5G, the Galaxy A51/A71 also offer a more enriched entertainment experience, offering low latency for gamers and higher quality content sharing for live streaming. Both devices are also powered by a 4,500mAh battery, so they can keep up with you throughout your day.

The feature-rich devices are the result of Samsung’s hard work to redefine the mid-tier smartphone category and represent the path forward to bring innovative technology to users around the world. Stay up to date with Samsung Mobile Press to learn more about Samsung’s latest Galaxy A series devices.

1 A version of this article was originally published on www.techpinions.com. This article was extracted from the original publication of Carolina Milanesi’s column.
2 Carolina Milanesi’s original article ends here.

carolina_milanesi_byline 

 

Relevant Points