Have Infinix and other Chinese brands hit the innovation wall?

A few days ago, images and specs of the upcoming Infinix Hot Note 2 leaked. Amidst all the glee, something struck me – a thought I’ve been harbouring for months now. You see, there’s a problem Chinese Android phone manufacturers are currently facing. We all know they mostly offer cheap (or rather, value for money) smartphones. A closer look will tell you that many of these phones no longer come as cheap as buyers would like.

Infinix Zero 2 and Hot 2

With every new iteration, there’s a subsequent bump in specs, which leads to a commensurate bump in price. Hence, striking a balance gets more difficult. The questions for concern are these:

How far can cheap phones get? For how long will cheap phones remain cheap?

I’m beginning to feel we’ve gotten to a kind of peak – an extreme in limit to which specs can be stretched with prices remaining cheap or affordable. Balancing specs with price is becoming a more and more arduous task. One cannot help but wonder, “What next will these guys come up with?”. This may all sound like jargon, so I’ll explain, using Infinix as a case study:

How it all started.
All these began with the launch of the Infinix Hot. It was initially released at the price of N12,900. Shockingly cheap, especially compared to the specs the phone had at the time. 16 GB of internal memory with 1 GB of RAM, 5 MP/2 MP camera and more, all for that insanely cheap price. It sold in droves. It is probably their best selling phone till date.

After that, we got the Infinix Hot Note. Then all other variants of Hot Note Pro that came afterwards. That was also a runaway success, as it matched great specs with affordable price. The phone is virtually in every hand out there.

Next in line was the Infinix Hot 2. If you check our comparison with it’s predecessor, there’s only a marginal increase in specs and complimentary increase in price. But then, the phone is also selling in droves, but this is where the problem starts.

Now the problem.
Following all the successes of the Hot Note/Pro series, I felt Infinix has gotten to a climax. How much higher can they go while still keeping prices low?

You see the dilemma. They can’t just add a new feature that doesn’t currently exist. It’s not like they have the finances to foster new technology, or come up with an entirely new feature we’ve never seen before. That would even fire up the price. See what happened to the price of the Infinix Zero 2.

To make matters worse, they can’t start diluting specs now. Not after spoiling us with all the great features. So a regression in specs would spell bad market for them. Conversely, if they decide to add any new feature such as better display, finger print scanner, or even 3 GB RAM, prices would spike. Who would then buy? This defeats the USP of Infinix – offering value for money.

The leak of the Infinix Hot Note 2 goes further to even buttress this dicey situation. From the leaked specs we’ve seen so far, how much do you think it would cost? I highly doubt the price would remain same with it’s predecessor i.e. the Hot Note series.

The Infinix Hot was the cheapest phone money could buy, and was priced at N16,500. The next best cheapest phone is currently the Infinix Hot 2 which is priced at N20,500. Now unless there will be lots of trade-offs, I doubt the next phone in this series will be any cheaper. The trend means that the prices of newer releases will go higher. What then becomes of those still in need of that “affordable” value for money phones?

Will Infinix spin off another set of phones to cater for them? Or should they just go out there and buy another brand?

Unless Infinix’s engineers have something up their sleeves, I don’t see a way out of this dilemma. We shall find out during the launch of the Hot Note 2. November 27th isn’t so far away any more. Do you think I’m taking this too far? Your thoughts.

Chibueze is an award-winning gadget reviewer and geek. He loves research, while living and breathing tech. You can reach him on Facebook, Twitter ,OR LinkedIn

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