In 2016, Transsion’s darling boys, TECNO Mobile and Infinix Mobility, both decided to offer two flavours of their flagship models. And so, they gave us the Phantom 6, phantom 6 Plus, Zero 4, and Zero 4 Plus smartphones. It was the first time they would embrace a dual flagship strategy. Fast-forward to 2017, and there is no word of a Phantom 8 Plus or a Zero 5 Plus.
TECNO and Infinix were not the first smartphone brands to explore the dual flagship strategy. For example, Apple had pulled off the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and followed it up with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Samsung has also followed suit with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus in 2017.
As the date for TECNO’s annual flagship launch approached this year, not a few people expected to see a Phantom 8 Plus. There were rumour specs of both the Phantom 8 and the Phantom 8 Plus. But it turned out that the 8 Plus does not exist in TECNO’s product line.
And now, there has been no word about a Zero 5 Plus either. It does not look like there will be one. But why? Have are TECNO and Infinix so quickly abandoning this strategy? I have a few thoughts on the matter.
Poor Reception Of Phantom 6 and Zero 4
The first time you compared the specifications and features of TECNO Phantom 6 with the 6 Plus, what was your reaction? I instantly disliked the Phantom 6. It was a dumbed down version of the 6 Plus. This was my first reaction to the Zero 4 too. It was weak and lukewarm when compared to the Zero 4 Plus.
As such, the smaller models of both 2016 flagships were poorly received. Yes; the cost less, but not a lot of people felt that they were exciting and compelling enough to spend their money on. I am not sure that both models sold very well in the market.
Even yours truly, who is a fan of handy smartphones and found the Phantom 6 and Zero 4 more comfortable in the hand, found them too tepid to embrace them as true flagships.
If You Are Going To Copy, Do It Right
TECNO and Infinix attempted to replicate Apple’s success with the dual flagship strategy but did not copy it well. If you compare the specs of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, for example, apart from the differences in screen and battery size, everything else is pretty much the same on both phones. Same processor, same RAM, same storage, same cameras, etc, etc.
Interested buyers of the iPhone 6 did not get the impression that they were buying a dumbed down version of the 6 Plus. This is the same with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. And that is exactly the same principle that Samsung implemented with the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. Size and battery were the core differences.
So, it is easy to understand the disappointment that TECNO and Infinix fans felt when they found out that not buying a Plus model meant settling for a less capable smartphone.
Dual Flagships Is An Expensive Strategy
No doubt, Transsion is making loads of money from the TECNO and Infinix brands. But I do not think that they can afford to keep up with that dual flagship strategy, especially after the not-so-stellar outing of the Phantom 6 and Zero 4. It is an expensive strategy to follow.
Perhaps if the 2017 non-Plus models had sold extremely well in the market, it would make business sense to push out a TECNO Phantom 8 Plus and an Infinix Zero 5 Plus as well this year. But as it is….
TECNO Phantom 8 Plus and Infinix Zero 5 Plus
I love to give the benefit of doubt, so what if these brands have a secret plan to rollout a Phantom 8 Plus and an Infinix Zero 5 Plus somewhere down the line? You know, with the exact same specs (minus screen size and battery) and the Phantom 8 and Zero 5? Just what if?
Well, that would justify my thoughts as outlined in this article, no?
But what if those Plus models are released moths down the line with more powerful specs than we see on the Phantom 8 and Zero 5? Add a bezel-less design to that. That would certainly be a stunt – an exciting one. But it stands a chance of backfiring. If most TECNO and Infinix fans have upgraded to the Phantom 8 and Zero 5, who would buy these souped-up Plus models that are announced later?
Aha! I said, Aha!