Same pricing policy, wide ranges with multiple entrances, a real commercial success. Would Realme finally not be doing Xiaomi? This is what we are trying to answer here.
In the middle of spring 2018, a Chinese brand already well known in the telephone scene arrived in France, Xiaomi, whose dazzling success we know. A year later, in May 2019, another Chinese smartphone brand, Realme, launched in France with the Realme 3 Pro. Two years later, it also seems on track to settle in the Top 5 of the most prominent manufacturers.
In view of this crossover success, it can be tempting to write that Realme “copies” Xiaomi, or that the young brand is about to meet the same fate. But unless we play Cassandre, it is of course impossible for us to answer this question with any certainty. On the other hand, we will use here to offer you some answers. What brings Realme closer to Xiaomi, but also what distinguishes it from its model?
a dazzling success
The first element that jumps out at you is obviously the dazzling success of Realme which, at first glance, seems to be inspired by the figures of Xiaomi at its inception. From the first months of 2022, the young brand was invited to fifth place in sales according to the firm Canalys. What is particularly striking is its maddening 443% growth rate, allowing it to reach 5% market share, just one point behind Oppo in fourth place.
In Europe, it is even better: increase of 1365% for 4% of the shares and a fifth place there too according to Canalys. That said, we can argue that 4% is good, but not higher as the poet would say, since Xiaomi at the time accumulated between 7 and 8% market share in Europe after only one year of existence in the market. French.
A close name, but not so much
Another more anecdotal element that can unite the two is simply their name. Xiaomi, Realme, two syllables and a disturbing assonance. The proximity is even more evident when we quote Redmi, the sub-brand of Xiaomi. I have lost count of the times a Frandroid member thought she listened to Realme Note 11 instead of Redmi Note 11.
Beyond the close musicality, it should be noted that the two names do not actually mean the same thing. If Realme digs in English to say “the real me”, Xiaomi offers a much more esoteric meaning (detailed by numerama) which more or less means “little rice” or “little grain”.
Tendency to multiply products.
Speaking of names, it’s time to mention an element that the two brands undeniably share: a tendency to name their products in a particular way, even erratically.
Let’s take the recent Realme 9 range as an example. So we had a Realme 9 5G, a Realme 9 4G, a Realme 9i, a Realme 9 Pro, a Realme 9 Pro Plus… Now, on the Xiaomi side, let’s take the bulk recent of the Redmi ranges. They gave us a Redmi Note 11, a Redmi Note 11 Pro, a Redmi Note 11 Pro 4G, a Note 11 5G, a Note 11 Pro Plus 5G… In short, you get the idea.
To be fair, Xiaomi is raising the bar a bit more with additional iterations like a Redmi Note 11S, but the grounding strategy is clearly the same.
No doubt they will tell us: they are not the only ones who multiply the ranks. Samsung also offers an S-series, an A-series, and an M-series, but once the A52 and A52 are released, there is no A52s Pro Plus 5G. We are really in a specificity of these two brands. No doubt Realme has taken inspiration from Xiaomi here.
a similar philosophy
Let us now see the products offered by the two brands. Here too, the two share a culture of the most equipped phone possible at the lowest possible price, even if that means giving the impression of cutting their margins. If it is now impossible for its competitors to launch an entry level without an Oled screen, or without a minimum of fast charging, it is partly thanks to this very aggressive policy. Here too, the student seems to copy the teacher.
However, we notice that in this little game, Realme has now gone so far as to duplicate its model. The brand is the first to offer 150W charging on the Realme GT Neo 3, where Xiaomi, however, is building a reputation as a champion of ultra-fast charging, but is limited to 120W at the moment.
The question remains of the number of smartphones released. If you ask a member of the newsroom, they will immediately tell you that Xiaomi and Realme are really champions in the race for the brand that launches the most models. But in reality, if we take the year 2021, Realme has launched 38 smartphones worldwide, as many as Samsung and slightly less than Xiaomi with 42 models.
Therefore, it is more the variation of the same name within a range that gives this impression rather than the number of actual models. Especially since absolutely no brand launches all its models in France. You can find half of them at their posts.
Even so, Realme and Xiaomi do share that feeling of saturation that other brands do not cultivate. While Samsung, for example, organizes its year around a few combined launches, Realme, like Xiaomi, has the feeling of launching phones almost every month. A marketing strategy that allows you to multiply the articles and therefore your brand image.
What does Realme think of all this?
As you can imagine, when we met with Frédéric Chevrier, General Manager of the brand in France since May 2021, we expected that he would not necessarily share our views on the commonalities between the two brands. We thought it was fair game. And yet, for him, the comparison is fair enough.
That’s right, because we both deal with a very broad product portfolio in addition to smartphones, laptops, audio, watches, televisions, light bulbs, etc. And then we have a very wide range of prices from 100 to 850 euros.
Avoid the “penguin on ice floe” effect
The framework details Realme’s strategy a bit more, which is supposed to allow the group to stand out against its many competitors: “Our strategy is based on three points. The first is to offer high-performance phones in the mid-range where others would be in the high-end. The second is to be very divisive in design. We want to be able to stand out and bring a bit of freshness. »
Frédéric Chevrier even has a metaphor for that: “We want to avoid the penguin effect on the sea ice. That is, when you go to a store, you only have black screens and it is very difficult to stand out. Design is also a personal appreciation, a social framework, an unspoken voice that basically says: ‘I chose this product design’. »
The third point is to offer products “at the best prices”be be “super competitive” in particular going through many online sales. “We prefer to have the right price to target a young population, because 70% of our clients are under thirty. »
High-performance smartphones, not too expensive, still very much like Xiaomi, therefore. Asked about the somewhat slower growth of the Chinese giant in recent quarters, Frédéric Chevrier laughs: “We are impatiently waiting for growth to slow down, that will mean we have reached the same level. » As you may have understood, Realme is hungry and does not hide it, just like Xiaomi in its early days.
The group changes without changing anything
Of course, there are a few small differences here and there between the two groups. If Xiaomi goes it alone and seems to be gradually adding its sub-brands to the overall strategy (Redmi and Poco), Oplus, which owns Realme, Oppo and OnePlus, gives the feeling of wanting to completely separate each entity.
“We are part of a group, of course, but we are completely competitors. There is really no synergy, everyone is in their own race lane and there is no interaction., swears Frédéric Chevrier from his heart. He also adds that outside the French market, “at a global level there are many interactions, at the level of research and development, synergies that are made…”but make sure that “We come with our own DNA”.
the weight of the years
It is said that people will always prefer the original to the copy, but it would also be unfair to limit Realme to a mere copy of its predecessor. Regarding the design in particular, it is quite true that the brand knows how to offer something out of the ordinary, both for good (the GT range with its unique look, the Dragon Ball editions) and for bad (the huge “Dare to Leap” in the back of the Realme 8).
Let’s put our five cents in the fate of Realme. Will he closely follow his model? Difficult to say since the two do not ultimately share a very important element: the duration of existence. If Realme gives the feeling of wanting to be the new Xiaomi, it is also because Xiaomi was launched in 2011, in a market that is still in the midst of a revolution. Realme, for its part, appeared in 2018, in a market that can be described as mature. This impression of a Xiaomi cousin is therefore partly justified by this fact alone. But this will never stop Realme from getting the same success. We’ll talk about it again in five years, if everyone’s still there.
To follow us, we invite you to download our app for Android and iOS. You can read our articles, archives and watch our latest YouTube videos.