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The Case for Global Blacklisting

The theft of mobile phones is a growing problem fuel by the insatiable demand for premium model second-hand smartphones, particularly in developing countries.  There are no clear statistics recently, but reports indicate there are between 3 and 5 million phones reported stolen every year – if you include the number of stolen devices not reported, the true number is suggested to be in the region of 10 million.

 

Every phone has at least one unique identifying hardware number called the IMEI which transmits every time the mobile phone interacts with a cellphone network. This is not dissimilar to a unique engine number on a car.

 

If your mobile phone is stolen or lost the IMEI number can be reported and the phone is more than likely blocked in your respective country from working on all of the local mobile networks. However, the blacklisting of hardware is not shared between countries and consequently, the phone can be used with impunity in another country.   If you activate security software on your android or iPhone that allows you to brick the device remotely. This then renders the phone useless, a paperweight, that is the ideal situation however very few people actually “brick” their phones or activate this option as part of the initial setup.

 

What you may not know is that all the major brands of phones “ping” your online activity to their manufacturers constantly. It is therefore possible for all mobile phones to be bricked anytime by their creator. This is done by remotely transmitting an instruction in code to the device no matter where in the world the phone is connected to the internet – exactly what Samsung did after the “battery gate” saga of their recalled Galaxy Note 7.

 

Consumers should demand from mobile phone manufacturers that they have the absolute right to switch off their phone or brick their phone remotely globally in the event the device is stolen.  Naturally, there needs to be a clear verification process with some proof of ownership or there would be havoc.

 

Then watch phone thefts collapse, insurance prices drop, the only remaining reason to steal a phone would be for the chop shops to salvage a few valuable parts but that is a very limited market.  Mobile networks benefit massively from unsubsidized stolen phones on their networks so this movement must be driven at manufacturer level by consumer activism.

 

 

Cellucity the leading suppliers of insurance replacement devices to the insurance industry. Our dedicated insurance replacement division has long-standing relationships with most of the big insurance houses in South Africa, including the likes of; Vodacom Insurance, Santam, Old Mutual Insure, Discovery Insure, Bryte and many more.
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Avoid the Hack

When travelling abroad, many of us will rely on public Wifi, whether from a hotel, shopping mall or the restaurant you are enjoying that very expensive ethically sourced cup of coffee from the foothills of some mountain, whose beans that were ingested by a baby panda.

The problem with many of these public Wifi hotspots is that they can be used to hack your credentials, so we strongly suggest not using them to do banking or login to services that require password access.

It is not always possible to wait till you get back to your hotel or accommodation provider to make use of their probably more secure connection. That’s where have a local sim loaded with a data bundle provides you far greater security and peace of mind when travelling abroad.

A worrying development recently revealed at DEF CON, Security conference in August 2019, was the upcoming availability of fake lightning cables:

“Mike Grover, who goes by the pseudonym MG, designed the “O.MG cable” to look and function exactly like a legitimate Lightning cable made by Apple—but they are modified with hardware (including a very tiny wireless access point) that allows a hacker to remotely run various scripts and commands and hijack a targeted device.”*

So next time you run out of battery power and hand your phone over to the barmen or waiter to charge your phone, think twice. Ideally when travelling always use your own cables and if you are forever running out of battery make sure to pack an airline friendly power bank (those that are 10 000mAh or less) to take on your adventures.

And if you ever get stuck without a cable on your travels, make sure you buy an original or at least a certified manufacturer-approved cable. For accessories certified by Apple, they come with an MFI (Made for iPhone) logo, the MFI chips costs around $5 so if the cable you buying is cheaper than that, it’s most likely a fake. You can check which manufacturers are Apple approved by clicking here.

A lot goes into planning the perfect trip, make sure you have your mobile security bases covered before your next adventure. Explore your world with us.

*Sourced from Gizmodo

 

Established in 1994, Cellucity is a specialist mobile phone retailer and Vodacom’s leading independent, award-winning, dealer. We pride ourselves on offering the best service, innovation, quality brands and innovative products.

For real 24 hour convenience, browse our extensive range of cell phones, accessories and gadgets online or apply for pre-approval on your next contract, upgrade or fibre internet.

Cellucity, the best way to connect to Vodacom.

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Failure to launch?

Exclusive invitations “By innovation only”, have gone out for Apple’s next phone launch on the 10th of September which will herald in the announcement of a variety of new devices from Cupertino. When you think back to the days of long lines of excited customers waiting patiently, some even camping out, the night before, to get their hands on the latest technical marvel delivered by Apple. You can only think, “were we mad?”.

The tech landscape is ever-evolving and, in the past when there were massive leaps forward in technology at each phone launch, you almost didn’t want to, couldn’t afford to be left behind. How would your social life cope, when you didn’t have access to the latest apps or all-important Instagram filters, and AI camera’s to smooth your “selfie” face into doll-like perfection?

 

Today we have such good mid-tier phones with such exceptional camera’s and processing power onboard that the iconic, premium devices are no longer the pinnacles of desire they once were. The race to become the most desired smartphone manufacturer was originally a two-horse race with Samsung ever chasing Apple for the top spot, and in the past 2 years, Huawei has made a serious play to tease for the title making this little threesome a very exclusive party indeed.

 

But is this crown still worth fighting for?

 

Apple has lagged behind in Camera tech so much so that many mid-tier Android devices provide a much better photography experience for a fraction of the price. Samsung, in an attempt to create the same “iPhone” premium allure, has set their flagship models at a similar price point to Apple’s. Many customers are happy to shop down and get more value for money. Huawei has followed the same example, although you will find their premium devices are still a little more accessible.

 

The challenge in 2019 is really to decide is it worth it to upgrade? With Huawei being caught in the US vs China trade war, the launch of their Mate 30 looks more and more in doubt as without access to Google’s Android it won’t even feature on the race card. Samsung with its recent Note 10 launch is seeing some really healthy sales as the fanboys, and previous Note users replace ageing devices, and with Huawei’s Mate 30 potential “non-starter” will most likely see Samsung gaining some more new customers in the premium Android sector.

 

Apple and its new phones face the problem, of that once having established a price premium for their devices, it is very difficult to compete with the ever more popular mid-tier Android devices. So whilst we are seeing sales slowing down on Apple, their best move would be to be far more aggressive in its “R” version and start with re-setting its entry price point for a “premium mid-tier” device. Or alternatively, in the emerging markets like ours, get very aggressive with CPO (certified pre-owned) models of iPhone X and iPhone XR

 

For their flagships, rumoured to be the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11, pricing is likely to remain unchanged versus the XS and XS Max. I don’t think we will see a mad rush for the new 2019 iPhone range but, hopefully, we will see a more strategic price play from Apple.

 

Cupertino has hedged its bets on making its software and services more widely available and has entered into the banking space recently; they just need to ensure they don’t lose sight of the fact the most popular entry point into the iOS ecosystem and subscription to its various services begins with the purchase of an iPhone.

 

Is Apples solid ecosystem, its protection of user privacy and data enough to continue its dominance as the perceived premium benchmark setter?

 

Written By: Chris Henschel – Trend setter by day, socialite by night and Cellucity GM in his free time.

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Sony Xperia 10 Plus – Great viewing at an affordable price

The last few mobile launches have seen Sony struggling to make an impact in the top tier arena – so when I heard that they had launched a new Xperia series aimed at the mid-range market I thought – smart move Sony. With the Sony Xperia 10 Plus Sony have produced a solid, affordable option which offers some unique features in a stylish build.

Design wise the Sony Xperia 10 Plus is a long phone. The longer design allows for more screen real estate allowing more content to be shown- I really liked this – it made sense to me.

Side Finger Print Sensor

Although conservative the Xperia 10 Plus offers up a stylish metallic design. Sony has diverted slightly from the old boxy look to offer up a device with slightly rounder edges but with the unmistakably, Xperia feel we have come to know. The use of Gorilla Glass 5 makes the Sony Xperia 10 robust, but the exclusion of an IP rating and wireless charging along with the side mounted fingerprint sensor is disappointing.

The standout feature is the 21:9 aspect ratio offered on this device. As movies are normally shot in this ratio the idea is to give you that true cinematic experience. It does deliver- I did find myself getting immersed in the content I was watching – especially Netflix. It is important to note that not all platforms will cater to this but the quality of the 6.5-inch Full HD + display more than makes up for this. This is one of the best displays I have seen in this price range.

Sound wise the Xperia 10 Plus delivers. Pop on your headset and disappear into another world. I really think the sound is world class – the only issue is the placement of the sound bar at the bottom of the device makes it easy to cover it up when watching. Not a difficult hurdle to overcome and worth it if your device is one of your primary forms of entertainment. This sound is intense!

For those who are not used to the Sony interface – Side Sense was a super cool feature. Simply double tap the side of the screen and the Xperia 10 Plus will automatically bring up your most used apps and settings in lightning speed.

The Ultimate Wide – 21:9 aspect ratio

Another feature I loved was the camera. Out of all the phones I have tested I spent the longest time playing around with the Xperia 10 Plus camera than any other device at this price point.

In a nutshell, you get a dual rear 12MP+8MP shooter with 2 x optical zoom coupled with an 8MP selfie snapper. In general, the quality of the shots was great. Detailed and realistic a simple point and shoot delivered snaps worthy of an Instagram king or queen. With special features including beauty, mirror, portrait and skin softening, I also had great fun exploring the AR effects. Not only are the features super cool, but they also work, and they work well.

Popping the hood, you get a respectable octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 Processor coupled with 4GB RAM. Onboard memory is 64GB expandable with a microSD card. The battery lasted the whole day even after streaming content and working on it the whole day. While it is not the fastest device out there now it is certainly powerful and efficient enough for everyday usage.

The Sony Xperia 10 Plus is an attractive option for those looking for a great all-rounder with emphasis on viewing content and posting on social media. The sound and viewing alone are one of the best offerings I have seen in a while at this price range and is a solid performer and attractive alternative to your top tier ranges.

Written By: Lesa J

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Stuff We Love – Our Essential Accessories

Last month we touched on our favourite wireless headsets. But, here at Cellucity HQ, we all have our “must-have” accessories – our go to devices and cannot live without accessories. Often our clients come in seeking advice on what accessories go with their devices. As with everything these are subjective – I mean what is a must have and a nice to have? This month I went into our Cellucity Waterfront branch seeking the all-time hit list of accessories on offer. These are the products our teams love to sell and their recommendations on what you need in your cellular cavalry.

Energea Powerbanks

A real hit with our Waterfront team. These handy gadgets will see you through load shedding, an epic car trip or see you through when you’ve forgotten to charge your phone. With a wide variety ranging from 5000mAh – 20000mAh whether you are looking for a small charge or an epic burst of power we have something for you. Worried about device compatibility? We’ve got you covered – Lightning, Micro, USB-C we have them all. And if our range wasn’t large enough already, we also have quick charge power banks on offer too because we have all had that last-minute battery need. Quick-charge is the number one essential according to our team.

“Having that extra bit of power is always good” – Dylan – Cellucity Waterfront Sales Consultant

 

Energea Cables
Yes, of course you get a cable with your phone, BUT we have all found ourselves leaving them behind, at the office or losing them altogether. Aside from this, there is the wear and tear problem often experienced from consistent use. If you have ever found yourself in this situation, a spare cable is a definite essential. So, a cable is a cable, right? Wrong! Our Energea range of cables are designed to be durable and robust and offer Micro, Lightning and USB-C connectivity. Our Duraglitz and Nylotough Xtreme range have been strength and bend tested to the extreme to ensure high quality. We believe in these cables so much that they are backed by a 5- or 10-year warranty. Not convinced yet? Well, our cables also offer high-speed transfer rates ensuring that fast, quick and turbocharge are sufficiently supported.

“The build quality is strong, stylish and unique” – Morne – Cellucity Waterfront Sales Consultant

 

Langsdom M430 Headset
For those that travel on public transport or who rely on music for work, these are a handy addition to your collection. With a quality build and great sound, the Langsdom M430 are not only super affordable but come in a range of cool colours. With sound isolating technology and an easy multi-function button for music and calls these are a firm favourite in our stores. Leave them in your handbag, in your drawer or on your bedside table. Invest in a few and leave them in all the strategic places – you really can’t go wrong with these gems.

“These headsets are affordable, colourful and offer great clarity” – Robyn – Cellucity Waterfront Admin

 

 

Energea AmpCharge QC3.0 Wall Charger
A new addition to our range, this charging adapter has proven to be very popular both with our clients and our sales teams. With the increasing need for a fast charge this beauty is equipped with Qualcomm 3.0 technology and comes with dual ports to charge more than one device at a time. Better yet this adapter auto-detects your device’s optimum charging needs, so you get exactly what you need. With a maximum power output of 30 Watts, this charging adapter is compact and small enough to take travelling or to work.

“This is one of the fastest selling products in our store. Some of the greatest things about this charger are the dual ports and auto detect fast charge” – Max – Sales Consultant Cellucity Waterfront

 

Invisible Shield Screen Protector (Zagg)
The number one selling impact and screen protection is now available in all Cellucity stores. A firm favourite with one of our data techs this screen protection is not limited by device. Simply bring your phone, tablet or even your smartwatch in, and we will cut to size and apply for you. These screen protectors are designed for extreme environments and offer powerful impact protection.

It’s a well-known product and easy to install” – Yusuf – Cellucity Sales/Tech Consultant.

 

Written By: Lesa J

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TECNO CAMON 11 – Bang for your Buck or Average Joe Soap?

 

It’s no secret that breaking into the market as a “new” brand is tough. As consumers, we have come to trust certain brands based on experience and time in the market. However, it’s not always a bad idea to try something new – which is exactly what I did with the Tecno Camon 11.

A dominating force within the African market – Tecno Mobile occupies a great deal of market share beating the likes of Huawei and Nokia and only being slightly pipped to the post by Samsung as of 2018. And now that it has found its way into South Africa, we are very excited to be amongst the first to be able to offer this incredible budget device.

I’m going to say it up front – at R2999 you get incredible value for money from this device. I will go as far as saying that I think it may be the sleeper hit of the year taking on the likes of the Huawei and Samsung budget ranges.

 

DESIGN

In a word – Stunning! I really like it! Yes, it has a plastic body, but with the notch display and slim design you get a very premium look and feel which would not look out of place next to an iPhone or top end Samsung. If you do not like the plastic look, you do get a front and back cover in the box which will give your device a carbon fibre look instead. The fact that you get this in the box, as well as a screen protector, was a smart move – adding more value to the purchase.

Boasting a 6.2-inch HD + Super FullView display, the resolution while not top shelf is great. It is clear and bright and offers an eye care option for night owls who like to read before bed. With 5-inch being the new entry-level standard Tecno Mobile goes over and above to provide excellent viewing experience on a budget device giving you display size comparable to the Samsung S9+, Huawei P20 Pro and iPhone XR.

Unfortunately, at this price point, you must expect some concessions in device features. The only real drawbacks I found were in the devices lack of waterproof rating and slightly outdated micro USB charging point (so long fast charge capabilities). However, the device does boast a 3750mAh battery, so, you can expect a full day’s battery power. With the inclusion of a 3.5mm audio jack, you also get the flexibility to use your headset of choice.

 

PERFORMANCE

Set Up was simple, easy and fast. The Fingerprint Sensor (placed perfectly on the back) and Face Unlock setups were just as quick and straightforward and response times on these security features are lightning fast!

The Camon 11 offers a Quad-Core processor coupled with 3GB RAM. I was expecting a fair amount of lag from a device at this price point, but I was wrong. My user experience was, overall, smooth and uninterrupted. Yes, it tends to be a tad slower when operating more than one app/webpage simultaneously, but only slightly – and let’s remember the price point again!

At 32GB onboard memory, you can insert a memory card should you require more.

The Tecno Mobile Camon 11 offers Dual SIM capability offering the flexibility of choice whether local or travelling abroad.

And better yet – this Dual SIM device offers dedicated space for a memory card (no need to choose between two SIMs OR one SIM one memory card). The Camon 11 comes with Android 8 out the box but presumably will be upgradable to Android Pie.

 

CAMERA

A lot has gone into the development of the camera. I was pleased with the performance in general. The Camon 11 comes with a Dual 13MP+2MP rear camera and 16MP AI Selfie camera.

The Rear camera performed well overall although the panorama shots will take some practice. Featuring a range of modes including Auto Scene Detection and Bokeh the Camon 11 images were clear and impressive. The camera did struggle in low light, but the activation of the flash sorted that out quickly.

In terms of your Selfie camera, the AI backed into this was also impressive. Taking a selfie with HDR activated and with the front flash provided exceptional detail – I dare say better than looking in a mirror with the naked eye. Baring in mind the cost of the Camon 11 – taking advantage of all the available tech for a selfie is worth it!

Beauty mode offers a range of options from Kardashian type editing to a simple touch up – anything you want. Again, the flash and HDR provide detail if taking pics in low light settings. One small issue was the portrait shot. I tried numerous positioning, but the bokeh never seemed entirely on point. I am guessing this will take a little practice to get just right. The toggle also lagged slightly between modes but nothing that can’t be overlooked.

 

MY FINAL SAY

Selling at a price point well below most of its competitors Tecno seems to be giving the consumers what they want – a decent budget phone with little compromise.

The budget arena is an up-and-coming battleground, and Tecno has taken this seriously with the Camon 11. I would highly recommend this device should you be looking at an affordable phone with great features.

 

Written By: Lesa J.

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Stuff We Love – Wireless Headsets

Everyone has their favourite gadget or toy in their collection – and we at Cellucity are no different. With a wide range of gadgets, accessories and cool tech it is no surprise that our staff would pick more than one. That being said, music is always a firm favourite so, I went in search of the top staff picks in our wireless audio range – here are our top 4.

1) Apple Airpods
If you have an already established Apple Ecosystem these cool little buds make sense. A beautiful, clean design coming encased in a sleek charging case it is no wonder these guys are amongst the firm faves here at HQ. With quick tap access to calls and Siri, the Airpods offer rich quality sound with 24-hour battery life. Seamless switching between your Apple devices makes the Apple Airpods an excellent companion for any Apple lover. Android user? No worries, these pair with Android as well. The wireless connectivity allows you to pop these in your ears and forget about the world. For a more secure fit – pair with our Baseus straps.

I love that the Apple Airpods are made for Apple and that the pairing process is so easy. The sound quality is good and the fit secure” Matt (CCS Admin Head Office).

2) Plantronics BackBeat Fit
Designed for the athletes out there, the wireless Plantronics Backbeat Fit is a sturdy option to see you through most physical activities – but they also look great and come in a variety of colours. Made from flexible, tangle-free rubber material the BackBeat Fit is a favourite especially with our runners. A simple and fuss-free design – simply pair with your phone via Bluetooth and off you go. With 8-hour battery life, hard wearing and sweat-proof design you can feel reassured that no matter how hard you push, the Plantronics BackBeat Fit will have your back.

I love the wireless and secure fit along with the ability to take and make calls with no fuss” Beverley (Online Sales)

 

3) Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 (Special Edition)
If you are looking for immersive sound, then look no further. The wireless Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is a luxurious design meant for comfort. The over-ear headset allows you to forget about the world around you while you work or when you relax. Incoming or outgoing calls have superior sound quality and are a convenient way of communicating while working. Flicking between songs or pause/play could not be any easier and contributes to the quality of the build. With up to 24 hours of use, the Backbeat Pro 2 charges up quickly so if you find yourself in a pinch, it won’t be for long.
I love this headset and use it every day. Sound quality is unmatched and the design fantastic.” Lesa (Online Sales).

4) The E’nod Mini Ring – True Wireless Headset
Available in two varieties the Enod headsets are coming up in the ranks and for good reason. Coming a sexy grey or cheeky red the Enod Mini Ring True Wireless headset offers a secure fit and minimalistic design which comes in a fantastic charging case. With a sweatproof rating of IPX4, the headphones come with three different silicone plug sizes ensuring maximum comfort. Calling is no problem with these guys – simple easy and no fuss. If you are looking for added stereo calling, have a look at the latest model – the Mini Ring Pro.“These earbuds are great for training in the gym. I also like the fact that they are unique – not everyone has them” Alex (Manager Cellucity V&A Waterfront)

 

The trend towards wireless is clear but for those who need a spare set in their bag or for travelling our range of wired headsets are just as extensive and offer great sound and build.
Don’t just take our word for it. If you are looking for a new pair of headphones or a great gift for someone shop now, we would love for you to prove us right!

 

Written By: Lesa J

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Rumour Has it: The Samsung Galaxy S10?

With the introduction of the new Samsung Galaxy S10 on the horizon (the unpacking currently set for the 20 Feb 2019) I got curious as to what could be on offer that would make it the “stand out” of the first quarter. Lately, I have found it tough to get super excited about new phone launches which often have the same feel as their older siblings. With sales of the Samsung Galaxy S9 lower than that of its predecessors I am hopeful that Samsung smashes it with its new star child – The Galaxy S10.

Design

Samsung is set to roll out three variants of the Samsung Galaxy S10 including a ‘lite’ version which will feature a flat as opposed to a curved display. The introduction of a Lite version is smart in my opinion as it makes the range more accessible than ever before.

 

Galaxy S10 – 6.1”

Galaxy S10 Plus – 6.4”

Galaxy S10 E/Lite – 5.8”

 

 

 

Samsung is set to up the ante regarding colours, offering more exciting options. It does, however, remain to be seen what colour variations local networks will accept. Rumour has it that Samsung will employ a ceramic design which, although not unique, does offer greater scratch resistance.

Set to launch with an almost bezel-less display, it appears that Samsung will do away with the notch, bucking the 2018 trend. To offset the loss of space the Galaxy S10 range will come with Samsung’s new Infinity O display, whereby the camera is a small pinprick hole at the top of the device. Screen resolution is also set to be ramped up with all models set to feature Samsung’s Super AMOLED display.

On the two higher models, fingerprint detection will be via “ultrasonic” sensors with the current optical sensors used on the Lite model.

The Inside

The Exynos 8910 chip is currently blazing the trail for Android devices, but the introduction of the Exynos 8920 chip is set to take the Samsung Galaxy S10 models to a new level. Essentially offering AI processing capability up to seven times faster than the current chip – the Exynos 8920 will also allow for 8K video viewing.

Although these first models will not be released with 5G, Samsung is rumoured to be releasing a fourth version with 5G later in the year.

Android 9 Pie and an improvement on Bixby are further features we can look forward to.

Camera

Camera-wise all three models are rumoured to offer different camera capabilities. The Samsung S10 Plus is said to offer three rear camera lenses coupled with two front-facing cameras. The Samsung S10 will offer the same three rear camera lenses with only one front-facing camera and, rounding out the trio the Samsung S10 Lite/E will offer two rear cameras and one front-facing camera.

The range will support full 3D camera rendering, allowing Samsung to improve on its current AR Emoji and with Artistic Live Focus AI, users will get greater control over the blur effect.

Power

As always, Samsung has gone for different capacity batteries on each of new range with the S10 Plus set to have a 4000mAh. The Galaxy S10 will be fitted with a 3500mAh battery and the S10 Lite a respectable 3100mAh battery. With the new Super AMOLED display, battery life is yet to be seen. Power share is also rumoured to be available on the new range.

Price

Although no South African pricing has confirmed as yet, the below pricing is currently the best indicator of what to expect:

 

As with all rumours and leaks, it remains to be seen how much of this will be accurate and how much is wishful thinking. And as always there is the element of surprise – Samsung may have something more up its sleeves.

Written by Lesa J

 

*Official images and specifications have not been released by Samsung as yet.

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2019 – the mobile year ahead

As we all get to grips with starting the working year ahead, I would like to take a look at what the future holds for the mobile phone brands in South Africa. Traditionally, December is our busiest month where we sell the most mobile devices for the year. December 2018, however, was somewhat muted and we found some interesting trends carrying us into the new year.

So how are the big three (Apple, Samsung and Huawei) doing and what’s their outlook looking like for 2019? With our economy not having a stellar time, we have picked up two clear patterns emerging, with South African consumers, looking at their next mobile phone purchase:

Firstly, they are shopping down (or sticking to a tight budget range). The aspirational drive to have the “latest” top of the range model is in decline.

Our Top 10, handset sales for the December period is a testament to this with our top seller being the Huawei P20 Light. Across all brands, manufacturer “flagship” phones were massively out-sold by the mid-tier cousins. In the past, consumers would be more willing to splash out to acquire the latest and greatest, with lesser device variations largely ignored.

Secondly, customers are opting to hold on to their existing mobile phones and are instead optimising their monthly contract spend with reduced rates on “no device” contract deals.

So, other than a stalling economy, what has changed? Our sales trends and customer feedback show a few factors influencing the purchasing behaviour, which I will touch on.

Price: This probably has the most significant influence on purchasing behaviour currently. With new flagship phones ranging from R17 000 to over R30 000 on prepaid OR between R800 and R1000 per month on a low-value contract deal (offering little to no data or calls), consumers are finding it extremely difficult to justify the massive premium.

Technology: In the past, each new handset release used to herald some great NEW feature. If you weren’t able to utilise/ show off your new tech, you felt you were left behind. In today’s phone landscape, however, the majority of us use our phones for 4 or 5 essential apps – WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Banking and one or two others. There is no need to have the latest tech to keep up. If the camera is good enough to make your social media posts look lit, you are winning. The gap between a mid-tier and flagship phone has shrunk and is no longer a debilitating choice.

Style: this probably is the most glaring change in handset development. In days gone by when you put your new iPhone 6 (new shape) or Samsung S6 Edge (curved screen) on the coffee shop table, next to any previous version, the new designs were instantly recognisable. You could be the envy of your friends by displaying your new social enabler at Bootleggers in Sea Point. Today, however, handset designs have all but morphed into one. So much so that it’s hard to tell your Samsung A7 from your S9, your Huawei P20 from your Y7, your Apple X from your XR and heaven forbid your Apple from a Huawei.

So where do the handset companies go from here?

Both Samsung and Apple have had a disappointing end to 2018. The start to 2019 shows no change, with both leading manufacturers displaying flagging sales and ever stiffer competition from Chinese manufacturers.

Apple’s issues are largely by their own design and, I feel, they have finally reached the tipping point. Their business model, in the past, was to create hype around their new devices, starve supply and drive demand like no other. Every 2nd model in the product life cycle would go through a complete design change and, coupled with a few new software features which could only be used on the new models. They drove the “upgrade” cycle – with annual updates but, if your iPhone got to two generations old, you were seriously behind. If you had the iPhone 5, you would not get the 5S you would wait for the iPhone 6. If you had the 6S, why get the 7? You would wait for the iPhone 8. Their strategy tied in perfectly with the 24-month contract/ upgrade cycle.

Then things started to change; we lost the 3.5mm jack, and we hesitated. We lost fingerprint unlocking, so we waited even more. It felt like we were getting less but expected to pay more for the privilege of having a “better” design. We started questioning what the actual hardware “upgrades” were and were they even worthwhile? My iPhone 7 Plus works great, I won’t get the X, let me rather wait for the XS. The XS arrives, but the price is so much more than I am paying for my 7 Plus. Can I justify the upgrade? Maybe I should go with the more affordable XR – but it just has a single camera. Why should I pay more and get less? My choice is simple.

For a long period, the Apple ecosystem created the stickiness that bound users into getting the next iPhone, “but all my music is on iTunes” OR, “how will I share all my photos” and now with Apple expanding its content services to include Amazon and Samsung have they removed this glue?

Finally, for Apple, the devices generally are pretty robust, and with more and more reputable repair outlets providing battery replacements for your old iPhone you can easily extend the life of your devices for a few more years.

For Samsung, the problem has been around for the past 6 or 7 years. Because their desire to dominate the industry is embedded in the corporate culture, the product line and range is there to squeeze out all potential competition. By covering every single product niche with a model, you don’t create many gaps for your competitors to muscle in. Their short-sightedness of this approach has however meant that they cannibalise their market across their ranges.

From a marketing perspective, the focus has always been on their premium devices, and the myriad of other are left to find their own space in a flooded market. On the flagship side, they have had a similar problem as with Apple. For 2019 though, they will be unveiling a foldable screen phone which will herald a real innovation in the industry but when you look at those 3 or 4 essential apps again how do you build a camera into a foldable design? So, while flexible screens are great for media consumption, will they be a hindrance in media creation?

The main problem for Samsung has been their product range, and while they have been trying to reduce the size of the product portfolio the gaps between models in just so small, it makes it easier to shop down. Design and tech have become so similar across models that it’s hard for me to tell one device from another, and I work in the industry – heaven help a poor consumer. If you had to lay out a Samsung J8 and A8 (R80 per month price difference) or a J6 and A7(R150 per month price difference), you will be hard pressed to spot the difference. To be fair the A7 has three cameras and is far superior, but you get my point.

If BMW used the same body for its X1 /X2 and X3 models, and you couldn’t tell them apart, and they all performed equally well in your city commute… Would you buy the cheaper X1 or pricey X3?

Finally, Huawei, they have been a dominating force, in our channel, over the last year. Much like Hyundai, when it first appeared in South Africa, people viewed the brand with scepticism, but over time they have proven they are a solid proposition in the market. Initially, Huawei focused heavily on the lower and mid-tier market which, in hindsight, was a masterstroke (whether by design or pure chance) as they established themselves as a reliable brand that produced quality devices and reasonable pricing. They have slowly pushed into the premium sector and now are contending and even surpassing the big two (Samsung and Apple) in the flagship space.

In general, Huawei offers incredible value for their price points. They are however beginning to make the mistake Samsung made – an ever-expanding product portfolio. For now, this is mitigated by a good pricing glide strategy but, it is a tight rope to walk with the ever-present cannibalisation threat.

So, for 2019, Apple has already started shifting its focus from hardware to expanding its iTunes and Apple TV partnerships to incorporate the likes of Amazon (Alexa) and Samsung (Smart TV). Is this their fundamental shift in strategy to make up for lagging handset sales?
Samsung is heavily reliant on selling components like screens and memory to the likes of Apple and Huawei to help fund its R&D and drive down the costs of innovation, with Apple sales slowing down will we see a far more measured approach to new product launches in 2019 and beyond?

And, finally, with Huawei is the global furore around 5G and security of Huawei built networks in the USA and Europe and their devices being banned in some countries, going to see them increasing their aggressive push into Africa?

The last quarter of 2018 highlighted these changes in consumer spending. The cellular market is brutal – look at the likes of Ericsson, Motorola, BlackBerry and even (the now reborn) Nokia. Will the big three stick to their guns? Will their plans for 2019 be successful? Or, is this an opening for a new company to challenge the status quo? We are excited, are you?

 

By: Chris Henschel

Posted on

ENERGEA WiDisc 75 – The 7.5W Difference

The simple charging cable – while still a useful little tool I am sure we can all be honest- they were very last year! Anyone and I mean anyone who has ever owned a phone will no doubt be able to regale you with tales of frayed cables and scientific calculations on which way to put the darned thing in without damaging your port.

With the introduction of wireless charging (albeit on certain devices only) the need for the cable is fast disappearing. Imagine a device that is a one charge fits all. We have it! No need to carry around three different types of cable with our Energea WiDisc 75 Wireless Charger you can pop any Qi-enabled device on and charge away – truly universal charging!

What’s more our charging pad comes enabled with 5W/7.5W and 10W support so no matter what device you have it will automatically detect and charge at your phone’s optimum charging level. For me, having one wireless charger in my home and another at work is fantastic. I don’t have to look around and bend into all sorts of positions to charge my device – I merely pop it down on the charging pad and go about my day.

iPhone or Android – both are welcome. And before the Apple lovers out there look to the more expensive 5W/10W chargers- here’s a secret: Your iPhone 8 or X range charge at an optimum level of 7.5W. 10W charger? No dice- it will revert to the lower and slower 5W. If you are looking for optimal charging, make sure your wireless charger supports 7.5W charging.

Other cool features on this device are your circuit protection and its non-slip grip. I am sure we can all agree that a cable far outweighs your phone flying through the air and smashing gloriously into the ground. Coupled with this are the lightweight and compact design making it easy to pop in your handbag or briefcase- even pocket in a pinch.
Any 1.5M (and longer) cable worth its salt is going to set you back R299 or more so with the Energea WiDisc 75 retailing at R599 it’s a real winner.

And, an FYI, we have learned that Huawei has developed a wireless charger that will support 15W charging and sport a silicone surface (no slipping off of your phone) However, we can only look forward to this early next year.