Smartphone brand realme becomes world’s fastest brand to ship 50 million units




Global smartphone shipments in the third quarter of 2020 grew by 32% Quarter-on-Quarter (QoQ), but declined by 4% year-over-year (YoY) to around 380 million units, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service.

Top OEMs like Huawei, Apple, OPPO, Vivo, and LG have also experienced YoY declines in the third quarter, impacted by the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and slowdown in the global economy. However, there are a handful of brands able to defy the global market trend. Among these brands, the young brand realme stands out with 45% YoY growth and 132% QoQ growth, bouncing back from the COVID-19 gloom with a remarkable show of resilience.

OEMs’ smartphone shipments growth Q3 2020: YoY Growth / QoQ Growth

OEMs’ smartphone shipments growth Q3 2020: YoY Growth / QoQ Growth

Source: Quarterly Smartphone Market Monitor, Q3 2020

As a result, realme has cumulatively shipped over 50 million smartphones by the end of te third quarter 2020, becoming the world’s fastest brand to hit 50 million shipments since inception. This is especially noteworthy as it surpassed top players such as Samsung, Apple, Huawei, and Xiaomi.

The realme brand was officially established in August 2018. Since its inception, the youngster-focused, online-centric brand grew rapidly around the globe. According to Counterpoint Research, with the ability to efficiently bring cutting-edge technologies and features to the budget smartphone segment, and the “cool” marketing strategy to influence its target consumer segment, realme has managed to differentiate its value proposition in the intense market competition.

In India, realme grew to become one of the Top-5 smartphone brands in the first quarter of 2019. It entered the South East Asia (SEA) market in the fourth quarter of 2018 and achieved the top-5 brands ranking in several countries within two quarters after launch; in European countries such as Spain, realme entered the top-5 brands’ list within one month of launching.

realme smartphone shipment distribution by region: Q3 2018 vs. Q3 2020

realme Smartphone Shipments by Region Q3 2018 vs Q3 2020Source: Quarterly Smartphone Market Monitor, Q3 2020

realme’s strong growth momentum continued in 2020 against the market headwind. In the third quarter of this year, it grew over 300% QoQ in the Indian smartphone market grabbing 15% share and getting close to more established brand Vivo. In the SEA region, realme grew by 196% YoY and 47% QoQ, demonstrating clear leadership in key countries including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, solidifying its top-5 position in the region. In Europe, it continued to expand and successfully entered the top-5 brands’ list in Russia. It also became one of the Top-5 brands in several developed markets such as Australia and Singapore. In the world’s most saturated market China, realme registered 90% QoQ growth in the third quarter to become the sixthplaced brand by shipment volume, and in China’s 5G smartphone segment, realme reached the fifth position, just behind Huawei, OPPO, vivo, and Xiaomi.

To date, realme has been winning tens of millions of fans around the globe and has become a leading choice smartphone brand for many younger consumers.

realme’s key target markets and shipment achievements—Q3 2020

realme’s key target markets and shipment achievements—Q3 2020

Source: Quarterly Smartphone Market Monitor, Q3 2020

Commenting on realme’s significant growth in Q3, Flora Tang, Research Analyst at Counterpoint, said: “Inevitably, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused negative effects to the global smartphone industry, such as supply chain disruption, delayed market demand, and reduced consumer confidence. During this period, we expect consumers to shift more towards the mid and budget smartphone segments, opting for value-for-money products. This is the price range where realme has a clear competitive edge with strong product offerings. According to our observation, realme continued the aggressive product launch plan in 2020 despite the pandemic’s shadow, bringing fresh air to the market with realme 6/6 Pro/6i series, realme X3/X3 SuperZoom, the new Narzo series, and various models within the realme C series. These models, with premium features such as multiple cameras, AI-capable chipsets, long battery life, and stylish form factors, have received positive feedback among consumers from India, and various European and SEA countries including Spain, U.K., Italy, France, Poland, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and more.

In the mature market China, realme was the rising star releasing four budget 5G models during the third quarter, namely realme V5 5G, realme X7 5G, realme X7 Pro 5G and realme V3 5G. These models gained immediate market traction, driving up sales of realme in China by 90% from the last quarter. With the launch of realme V3 5G, realme also brought down the price threshold of 5G phones in China to around $150. By end of September, realme had built a complete 5G portfolio covering products from entry-level to the premium segment, and the share of 5G smartphones in realme’s China sales has exceeded 90%, the highest among the major manufacturers. realme’s 5G smartphone offerings, especially the flagship X50/X50 Pro 5G, also gained traction in other mature markets such as Europe and Australia.”

Share of 5G smartphones in selected vendors’ China sales, September 2020

Share of 5G smartphones in selected vendors’ China sales, September 2020

Source: Monthly Smartphone Market Pulse, Sep 2020

Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint, added: “Apart from the strong product portfolio, the efficiency of realme to tackle the rapid market changes is also a key success factor. realme is a young brand, and thus we expect its organization and decision-making flow to be more immediate and flexible than the traditional electronics giants. During the difficult pandemic period, consumers shifted to online purchase, and realme, with its online-centric expertise, acted fast to cater to consumers’ needs. It offered after-care services in various markets, including extended product warranties, delivery within 7-14 days, contactless delivery, and online customer centers. In some SEA countries, realme also provided live streaming e-commerce training to its sales representatives, encouraging them to try this novel way of conducting business while staying safe during the lockdown. Realme has been helping the emerging markets to develop towards a more digital economy. And its efforts paid off with the strong growth in the third quarter.”

Moving forward, we expect realme’s aggressive global expansion and its strong growth momentum to continue in 2021. With COVID-19 bringing about a booming of the online economy, as well as 5G network deployment accelerating around the globe, we are positive about realme’s development potential in the changing industry dynamics. In its recent development, realme has expressed an ambition to enter the Top-5 brands’ list in the European region by 2021.

Additionally, realme is expanding towards an AIoT (AI+IoT) ecosystem with the “1+4+N” products strategy (1 core smartphone + 4 smart hubs + N smart gadgets and accessories). It has been enriching the ecosystem by releasing competitive smart products, such as realme smart TVs, TWS (True Wireless Stereo), realme Watch, realme Smart Cam 360°, and more. In the third quarter of 2020, shipments of realme TWS products in India grew 45% QoQ to take a 12% market share, and rank 3rd among the country’s top brands list. Both realme Buds Q and realme Buds Air Neo entered India’s Top-5 best-selling TWS models in the third quarter.

Overall, Counterpoint projects that the ecosystem strategy of realme will further help it to create new value for its customers, strengthen customer loyalty, and build a strong edge in the upcoming IoE (Internet of Everything) era.

The figures are based on final Counterpoint shipments tracking data for 2018, 2019, and the first quarter of 2020; third quarter of 2020 calendar year estimates based on Counterpoint preliminary results.

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