Local brands help Android take market share from iOS in key urban China market

The prosperous urban regions of China – where almost all the emerging middle class are to be found – is a key market for premium smartphone models, and the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel suggest that local Android brands are taking market share from Apple.

The latest smartphone OS data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech for the three months ending February 2016 shows that Android increased its sales share in urban China to 76.4% from 73% in the same period a year ago. In the US and EU5, Android continued to make year-on-year gains.

Apple saw the iPhone’s market share drop 3.2% in the same period.


Nvidia Shield TV expands to China with Nintendo Wii and GameCube titles including ‘Legend of Zelda’ and ‘Super Mario’

The Nvidia Shield TV is an awesome streaming box for entertainment, but it’s arguably better used for gaming. Between Android games and GeForce Now, the Shield is a great platform for gamers. In China, though, the Shield is getting even better with a selection of Nintendo titles.


Some budget Android phones in the US reportedly affected by ‘backdoor’ which sent personal data to China

There are a lot of fantastic budget smartphones on the market today, but there are always concerns with smartphones that are super cheap. One of those is security, an increasingly important part of any smartphone. Now security firm Kryptowire has uncovered an alleged backdoor hidden within some budget Android smartphones.


Lenovo chief: Google Play Services will be in China this year

According to a report by Tech.Sina, Google will finally bring its services in to China. Lenovo chief, Chen Xudong claims Google is on track to bring its Play Services to the nation at some point in 2016, and that its desire to do so isn’t a secret. Google wants its services back in China, but has faced strong opposition from the government in the past, heavily restricting its presence there.

While Android has long been the dominant smartphone platform in China, Google’s presence there is still very limited. In fact, Google Play Services are practically non-existent. Before the Nexus 6P was built, it was rumored by a reliable publication that Google had chosen Huawei specifically because of its influence in China. With Huawei being a Chinese brand, and the biggest seller of smartphones in the country, its influence is huge. What’s more, Google also recently partnered with (and took a minor stake in) Mobvoi, one of the most widely-used and advanced Chinese AI and voice recognition companies.

Clearly, with Android being the most widely-used smartphone OS in China, Play Services aren’t required or critical to the platform’s success. Bringing Play Services in to China would mostly be an effort to help end fragmentation in a country where multiple app stores exist for Android.

No specific timeframe was given in terms of when we might see Google Play back in China. One can only assume getting the service approved takes multiple jumps over political hurdles and cutting through endless miles of red tape. We’ll keep you updated when/if there’s any more to share on the issue.

Xiaomi retained top spot in China in 2015, but Huawei likely to hit back this year, says Canalys

While Canalys reported last year that Huawei overtook Xiaomi to become the biggest-selling smartphone manufacturer in China during Q3, it now says strong Q4 sales enabled Xiaomi to retake the top slot for the year. It says Xiaomi ended the year with a 15.2% market share against 14.7% for Huawei, with Apple following at 12.5%.

The WSJ reports that this view is echoed by rival market intelligence company Strategy Analytics. However, with more Chinese consumers looking to upgrade to mid-range handsets this year, Canalys analyst Nicole Peng believes the positions could be reversed during the course of this year …


Samsung’s Nougat beta test for the Galaxy S7 kicks off Nov 9 in the US, UK, China, & South Korea

Android Nougat has been out for a couple of months now, but in that time, it hasn’t caught on all that much. While Nexus, Pixel, and LG V20 users have the OS, few others do. While OEMs like LG are working on updating phones to the latest version of Android, Samsung is going to play a key role is getting that adoption rate up. Luckily, the company seems to be doing just that.


Samsung Pay launches in China with nine banks supported from today

Samsung has announced that its mobile wallet service Samsung Pay has launched in China today, with nine banks supported initially, reports ZDNet. The move follows a deal struck with state-owned card-processor Union Pay at the end of last year.

Samsung Pay currently supports select credit and debit cards of nine major banks in China: China CITIC Bank, China Construction Bank, China Everbright Bank, China Guangfa Bank, China Minsheng Banking Corp Ltd, China Merchants Bank, Hua Xia Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Ping An Bank.

Samsung Pay is supported by the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and Galaxy S7/Edge.

The move comes six weeks after rival service Apple Pay launched in China.

Samsung secure KNOX platform gets government blessing in China and France

Samsung announced in a press release today that it has received government certifications for its security platform, KNOX, from the appropriate regulatory bodies in China and France. Both the China Information Security Certification Center (ISCCC) and France’s National Agency of Computer Security (ANSSI) have given Samsung’s secure mobile platform their blessing…


Mid-tier Samsung Galaxy On5 and Galaxy On7 launched quietly in China

In an effort to claw back some market share at the bottom end of the market, Samsung has released a couple of new modestly-specced smartphones in China. With the rise of several Chinese brands offering great handsets at low prices, Samsung has to fight back. The Galaxy On5 and On7 are part of the the company’s attempt to put pressure on the likes of Huawei and Xiaomi.

There’s little here to whet the appetite of the spec-hungry tech fan. Both phones are equipped with similar components, the only real difference between the Galaxy On5 and On7 is the size. The On5 has a 5.0-inch screen, while the On7 has a 5.5-inch screen. Both share the same 1280 x 720 resolution TFT screens, giving pixel densities of 294ppi and 267ppi respectively. Inside, powering the phones, is an Exynos 3475 quad-core processor paired with 1.5GB RAM and 8GB of internal storage (expandable up to 128GB). There’s a 13MP camera on the back and 5MP camera on the front. Samsung’s page doesn’t give full specifications for the On5, but we’re assuming it doesn’t have the same 3,000mAh battery found inside the larger, 8.2mm thin, On7.

One interesting thing to note is the software installed on the phones. Samsung recently got in to trouble in China because of its insistence on pre-installing tons of bloatware which can’t be uninstalled. Because of this, the Samsung page for the On5 and On7 now detail exactly how much space the pre-loaded apps take up (all of which can be deleted). One of those apps, making its way to China for the first time is Samsung Milk , the Korean tech giant’s music streaming services.

No pricing information has been released yet, but given the specifications, it’d be very unlikely if the phones weren’t in the bottom end of the market.

Huawei takes #1 crown from Xiaomi in China after seeing shipments climb 81%

According to data obtained by Canalys (reported by WSJ), Huawei became the largest smartphone maker in China, overtaking Xiaomi during Q3 this year. The smartphone maker’s shipments grew a huge 81% year-on-year, while Xiaomi saw its own shipments drop in the same period. It’s a significant achievement for Huawei, and marks the first time the company has been in top spot in China.

Although Canalys didn’t reveal exact sales figures for the third quarter, it did say that it will release a detailed report at the end of this month. It did note however that Xiaomi’s year-on-year drop in shipments is also a first, suggesting the two companies are moving in opposite directions.

It’s an interesting time for both companies. On the global scene, Huawei has seen its brand become far more recognizable over the past 12 months. Now, with the launch of the Nexus 6P and Huawei Watch, the manufacturer is on the cusp of becoming one of the ‘big brands’ in terms of sales and mindshare among consumers. In stark contrast, Xiaomi relies on sales in its homeland, China for its growth. With Huawei outperforming Xiaomi in China, and the Mi-makers not having a well-known brand outside Chinese borders, it could spell a slowdown in momentum for the once all-conquering Xiaomi. What’s more, Xiaomi is no longer the only company producing competitive phones at low prices. Brands like OnePlus, Oppo and Meizu are all producing similar devices.

While Xiaomi uses Chinese social media to create buzz in its home nation, Huawei has been far more active in its marketing abroad. What’s more, Huawei has its own sub-brand — Honor — which sells great value handsets in Europe offering performance and build quality that’s hard to beat at their price-points. Devices like the Honor 7, which we unboxed recently, offer a near-flagship experience for a fraction of the price.