Oppo launches the F1 in Australia

The Chinese smartphone company is launching its second Australian-destined handset next week, to be sold through limited retailers.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Oppo has announced the launch of its smartphone the F1 in Australia next week, with the company hoping to cement its position in the mid-market sector.

The aluminium F1 is priced at AU$299, and features a 5-inch display; a Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 octa-core processor; 3GB of RAM; a 2,500mAh battery; 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4; dual SIM slots or expandable memory for up to 128GB; a 13MP rear camera with Flash Shot technology; an 8MP front-facing camera with a wide f/2.0 aperture and 1/4-inch sensor for improved lighting; Pure Image 2.0+ camera software; and an operating system running ColorOS 2.1, which is based on Android 5.1.

In terms of the Australian mid-market sector, which covers phones costing between AU$250 and AU$500, Oppo ranked fourth place behind Apple, Samsung, and Huawei, according to GfK sales data from December 2015.

"Globally, Oppo sold 50 million smartphones last year, and locally, we've made impressive inroads, too," said Michael Tran, marketing director of Oppo Australia.

"We're looking to expand our presence even further this year, and with the right mix of products and innovations, there's no reason why we can't be a dominant player in the Australian market."

Oppo launched in Australia in August last year, when it signed a deal with Optus for the telecommunications company to sell its high-end R7 smartphone.

The R7 sported 3GB of RAM; an 8MP front-facing, autofocusing, anti-shake camera; a 5-inch, 1080p Super AMOLED screen; a Snapdragon 615 processor; a rapidly charging battery; and an Android 4.4-based version of ColorOS.

"We're delighted to be working with Optus to bring the Oppo R7 to market," Tran said at the time.

"Australia has always been a nation of early adopters, and our partnership with Optus provides yet another channel for them to experience the Oppo R7 style in a flash."

Oppo entered the United States and European markets in December 2013 with its 5.9-inch N1 smartphone priced at €449 in Europe -- including Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe -- and $599 in the US.

The company then launched the same device in India. The N1 was the first CyanogenMod Android smartphone to be produced.

Oppo faces stiff competition in its home market of China, contending with Huawei, Xiaomi, Lenovo, OnePlus, and ZTE for traction, as well as foreign phone giants Apple and Samsung.

The fourth quarter of calendar 2015 saw Xiaomi in the number one spot in China, with 15.4 percent market share, followed by Huawei, with 14.2 percent; Apple, with 11.3 percent; Vivo and Oppo in the fourth and fifth places respectively; and Samsung trailing in sixth place.

The Chinese mobile market is facing saturation as well as an overall economic downturn, however, with Seoul-based analyst IBK Securities predicting a decrease in smartphone sales over 2016.

"The smartphone industry is almost saturated. I have found that China's smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2015 decreased 4 percent year-over-year," said Lee Seung-woo, a securities analyst with IBK Securities.

"The two sides of the story behind this grim outlook are smartphone saturation and an overall weak economy."

Smartphone shipments within China reached just 118 million over the October to December quarter -- 4.72 million fewer phones shipped than during the same period a year previous, according to the IBK data.

"That means the biggest market for smartphones is saturated, and 2016 numbers will only decrease more. The first half of 2016 has a dismal outlook for the smartphone industry," Lee said.

The F1 is available through Oppo's online store, as well as retailers Move and Dick Smith, despite the latter having entered voluntary administration last month due to poor sales.

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