|Samsung Galaxy A51 in white. Courtesy of Samsung Electronics|
By Kim Hyun-bin
The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on global smartphone sales in the first quarter despite leading electronics manufacturers having unleashed their latest gadgetry.
In May, tech giants Samsung, Apple and LG began a fierce competition with their newly released budget smartphone series, hoping to bounce back from the previous three months
Samsung's released its Alpha series, Apple came out with its iPhone SE and LG unveiled its flagship Velvet smartphone as its game changer to increase their shares in the global market.
Samsung unveiled its 5G Galaxy S20 flagship smartphones in February, but sales reportedly were unimpressive due to the virus outbreak, only reaching 60 percent of those of its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 10.
Since then companies have been trying to appeal to customers with less expensive but high-spec phones at a time when demand for top tier phones has dropped. Samsung hopes its budget lineup of smartphones can defend its domestic presence against its archrival Apple.
On May 6, Samsung launched its mid-range Galaxy Alpha series, with the Galaxy A51 competing against the iPhone SE in terms of specifications and price range.
The Galaxy A51 comes with a 6.5-inch OLED screen, along with a quad rear-camera that embeds a 48-megapixel shooter, a 12-megapixel wide lens, 5-megapixel macro camera and 5-megapixel depth sensor.
The A-series all run on the Android 10 platform and are powered by a 4,000mAh battery capable lasting up to 28 hours after each charge.
The Galaxy A51 is equipped with the Exynos 9611 chipset and 4GB of RAM. There's 128GB of storage, of which 105GB is available straight out of the box. When needing additional storage the phone can accommodate an additional 512GB with a microSD card. However, unlike the iPhone SE, the unit is not water resistant.
The company first introduced the A series in 2014, though it wasn't too popular in the initial stages compared to the flagship S series as it was perceived by consumers as a lower quality device with limited storage capacity that was overpriced for a budget phone.
To better satisfy customer needs, the company has enhanced the specifications to include a better display, improved charging and more attractive pricing ― some devices come with a price tag in the mid-$300 range.
Currently, Samsung offers Galaxy A01, A11, A31, A41, A51 and A71 lineup, as well as A51 5G and A71 5G
Apple released its iPhone SE, May 7, with a price tag of $399, which many smartphone enthusiasts called a "turning point" in consumer technology as it comes equipped with sophisticated technology at a price that doesn't empty consumers' pockets. The price is the lowest in four years which is significant considering its predecessor the iPhone 11 peaked at $1,499 last year, while its budget phones tended to come with price tags of between $200 and $400.
Apple included a fast CPU and an excellent camera as well as useful features that were previously exclusive to new upmarket phones, such as water resistance and wireless charging.
|Apple's iPhone SE in black. Courtesy of Apple website|
The iPhone SE runs on Apple's A13 bionic processor, the same chip used to power its flagship iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. As a result, the iPhone SE is faster and snappier compared to its competitors becoming a major advantage against the similar priced Android-based smartphones, with its sophisticated cameras run by powerful processors.
The iPhone SE is one of the most compact smartphones Apple has released in recent years sporting a 4.7-inch LCD screen (as in the iPhone 8)0, weighing in at 6.63 ounces and coming in at much less than its predecessors, the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro.
But the phone comes with a tiny 1,821 mAh battery, which is dominated by Samsung's 4,000 mAh one. Still, the phone is considered a solid option for Apple fans looking for a cheap, portable device.
|LG Velvet comes in four colors: aurora black, white, green and orange. Courtesy of LG Electronics|
LG's choice to compete in the mid-range market is the Velvet, which is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset, has a 6.8-inch OLED display and a 4,300 mAh battery featuring fast wireless charging support. It is also equipped with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.
The most noticeable feature is the "raindrop" style camera on the back. The triple rear camera array includes a 48-megapixel sensor, plus a 9-megapixel ultra-wide camera and a 5-megapixel depth sensor, in addition to a 16-megapixel camera on the front side.
The phone is also rated IP68 for water resistance and has an in-display fingerprint sensor. The phone is available in four colors: orange, green, black and white.
Chinese smartphone manufacturers have also upped the ante in the budget smartphone sector by remodeling existing models or further lowering prices for their products to better solidify their position in the market. Huawei recently launched the Honor 30s 5G which features a 20x zoom quad camera for 2,399 yuan ($337). Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note 9S earlier this month.