Chinese device manufacturer Oppo will start selling 5G smartphones in Japan through mobile operators KDDI and SoftBank, according to a news report. Oppo said that KDDI and SoftBank will use all their Japanese sales channels to sell at least two of its 5G models.
KDDI will start selling the Find X2 Pro, Oppo’s latest flagship 5G smartphone, on 22 July, while Softbank will sell the midrange Reno 3 5G handset beginning 30 July.
In addition to increasing its presence in the Japanese market, Oppo plans to enter other markets in 2021, such as Germany, Romania, Portugal, Belgium and Mexico.
The intensifying U.S. campaign against Huawei, based on concerns that the Chinese manufacturer’s technology will be used by the Chinese government for spying purposes, has taken a toll. Not only has it affected the rollouts of 5G networks in the U.S. and U.S.-allied countries such as the U.K.—where embargoes on Huawei components are going into force—but it also affects the 5G market from the other end, the device end.
Among the consequences of U.S. sanctions is that, as of early 2020, Google has been barred from doing business with Huawei, and therefore Huawei devices cannot have access to Google’s Android operating system or any of the apps that are sold through Google Play. That is a major handicap for Huawei—and a major opportunity for competitors such as Oppo.
Chinese device manufacturers in general have distinguished themselves by offering relatively low-priced phones with sophisticated specs and features. While prices have been going up, Chinese phones still represent an attractive option for consumers looking to allot a greater proportion of their mobile spend to data and other plan features versus device charges.
Oppo’s strategy of engagement with two major operators in Japan is a strong one. The operators have the ability to get Oppo’s devices into the hands of a great many subscribers, while from the operators’ point of view, having those devices in the hands of their subscribers has the potential to greatly boost the uptake of 5G services.