Three months after the smartphone giant Samsung launched its latest flagship Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the US technology company Apple is gearing up to officially release its top brand iPhone12 and 12 Pro in the same category in the last week of November in Bangladesh.
And the market is waiting to see how the two giants – the world's number one Samsung and number two iPhone – are going to lock horns here at home.
The top end segment, where handsets are priced at Tk1 lakh and above, is small. Nevertheless, around 8,000 such handsets of these two brands are sold in the country every month, according to industry insiders.
And this is the share of the pie that the iPhone wants to bite, which it now shares equally with Samsung.
However, Samsung has some leverage because eight months ago it launched another top product Galaxy S20 Ultra, which, at the time of release in February, was priced at Tk1.30 lakh. Later, its price came down to Tk99,000.
Their latest flagship phone Note 20 Ultra is currently being sold at Tk1.34 lakh, confirmed Fair Group – the authorised distributor of Samsung Bangladesh. So, customers will have a cheaper go at a high-end product under this pricing range.
On the other hand, the price of the upcoming iPhone 12 and its other models – which is set to start at Tk1.06 lakh and could reach as high as Tk1.70 lakh – has the "newness" element to grab buyers. Price can be a factor unless someone is an iPhone die-hard.
The new models of both brands have almost the same features and functions with upgraded technology. There are however some noticeable differences between these flagship handsets, mainly in terms of storage, RAM and cameras.
The Samsung Note 20 Ultra has an expandable storage card slot, while the Apple iPhone 12 Pro has none. Besides, the iPhone handset offers a 12MP+12MP+12MP main camera system and a 12MP front camera, compared to Samsung's 108MP+13MP+12MP and 40MP, respectively.
The Samsung Note 20 Ultra also offers 12GB of RAM, compared to 6GB offered by the iPhone 12 Pro.
Therefore, a question is there whether the iPhone's new model will be able to make room in the market with its hefty price rate.
When approached for comment, Compustar Pvt Ltd – the authorised distributor of iPhone in Bangladesh – expressed optimism that the iPhone will not face any difficulties in Bangladesh's market because of other brands.
Md Moniruzzaman, head of business at Compustar, said, "We have our own customer base and that is why we never target other brands' customers," adding, "iPhone's product quality is the main branding that attracts new customers."
"So, iPhones give fewer offers and discounts compared to other smartphone brands," he said.
When asked whether Apple's new handset would compete with Samsung's comparatively affordable flagship phone, Md Moniruzzaman pointed out that these phones cannot be compared on the same ground.
"One device has the iOS operating system, while the other runs on Android. The users are also quite different. The Note is office equipment, while an iPhone is office-friendly and personal equipment as well," he said.
Currently, the Bangladeshi market has a demand of 8.5 lakh smartphones monthly, where iPhone's share is only around 4,000 sets, according to the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers' Association.
Further, 90% of the iPhone's demand in Bangladesh is met through the grey market, which means the number of legally imported products is only about 400-600 units per month, Md Moniruzzaman told The Business Standard.
Meanwhile, Samsung holds around 24% of the smartphone market in Bangladesh, and sells around two lakh devices every month.
But its top-end products Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra only have a monthly demand of 4,000 units, said Mohammed Mesbah Uddin, Chief Marketing Officer at the Fair Group – which manufactures and assembles Samsung mobile phones in Bangladesh.
He added that the Samsung brand has a very strong backbone in providing affordable mobile devices in Bangladesh.
Mesbah continued, "Customers want to have an open platform so that they can download any application, and for that reason, android is very popular here. Therefore, its sales are high compared to those of iPhones."
The iPhone 11 was the most recent model of Apple handsets, which was released in September 2019. Meanwhile, Samsung Galaxy Note S20 was released in February and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra in August this year.