Buying a new smartphone was a lot more straightforward a few years ago. If nothing else, there were far fewer brands to choose from. And there were not quite so many places to buy from. Today, there are brands most people have never heard of, and there are now so many dealers – online and offline.
There are more smartphone brands in Nigeria than car manufacturers
How many people have heard of Gionee phones for instance? Or Xiaomi? Oryx? Solo? OnePlus? Meizu? Imose? Or my current favourite – Malata. Add to this the fact that there are many smartphones sold by established electronics companies – LG, Acer, Lenovo, Sony, HP, Panasonic – and the complexity of buying a smartphone becomes apparent.
Most of all however, is that today’s smartphones look remarkably alike, reducing the buying experience to a simple brand selection exercise.
In other words, we now simply buy the brands that are being sold in our price range. This way, you save yourself the bother of wading through the smartphone brand maze!
But it also means that there is something for every buyer. From as low as N10,500 right up to the “eye”-popping iphone 6, the smartphone market accommodates all comers. And the market is growing.
Yes! to a SLOT
I was always going to buy a Huawei phone. I just wasn’t clear which Huawei phone in particular. And so off to what I thought was the SLOT centre in Lekki only to realize that the name had changed to “Yes!”. It was the same location, it looked the same, and it was kitted out the same way as SLOT. So why the name change?
Rumours of a falling out and obscure dealings came up, but as this was immaterial to the buying exercise, I proceeded.
There were stalls set up for each phone make with smartly dressed young people each manning their stations. Just like SLOT. On inquiry I was directed to the Huawei stand where a pleasant young man called Rilwan(?) greeted me most warmly.
This echoed my experience with the pleasant door attendant and another member of staff, who both met me at the entrance as I came into the store.
Clearly, customer service is a priority at Yes!
Rilwan was very knowledgeable about his products. Even when I tried to push him on price, he insisted he was offering me the best deal and asked that I take a few minutes to check online.
He was right. His prices were better than anything on Jumia, Konga or Yudala. The best part was, he himself used a Huawei phone, and could, therefore speak from a position of actual hands-on experience.
Too many times you find salesmen trying to sell you products they have no firsthand knowledge of. It’s like a Toyota salesman driving around in a Nissan and hoping to sell you a Camry! Poor poor practice, so kudos to the Yes! management team.
Most Chinese look alike to us
At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, most Chinese people look alike to the average Nigerian. So it is with smartphones, most of which incidentally come from China. Without a close look at the product name usually at the top or bottom of the screen, these phones are impossible to tell apart.
From the Sony stand, to HTC, Techno, Injoo, Samsung and Huawei – they were all near replicas of each other. Worse still, aside the iPhone, all the popular brands run on the Android operating system. And they typically use the same processors (Snapdragon), screens (gorilla glass mostly) and cameras (Sony surprisingly)!
So like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, it all fizzes down to size. Marketing budget size. Who promotes, advertises and markets their products better? That really is all that matters in the smartphone selling arena.
Specifications are similar, sizes are similar, and what was a must-have spec on a top end phone 12 months ago, is standard on most mid-range phones today.
But, there are still outright winners.
And the first accolade goes to Samsung for their top end phones, and then Techno for their middle to low-end smartphones (Infinix is actually made by Techno). Interestingly, both smartphone makers rank as the biggest advert and PR spenders in the industry. By a mile.
Of course, the reputation of Samsung and it’s gorgeous standout flagship S6 and now S7 phones help a great deal. However, there is an obvious relationship between the size of their marketing budget and their sales volumes.
Back to Yes! One word – impressive. And to top it all, there’s a proper warranty on their phones; and if you opt for one of the high-end devices, they have a payment plan spread over 4 months. That’s just enough time for a newer model of your “new” phone to be unveiled.
So, it’s a 9/10 nod to the folks at Yes!