Observing smartphone brand vendors' exhibitions at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016, Digitimes Research found that the smartphone market is moving toward a new development direction. Vendors including Korea- and Japan-based players, are no longer pushing specifications and performance, but instead adding new applications such as virtual reality (VR) functionality or modularized parts to differentiate their products from competitors'.
Samsung Electronics showcased a new device for the VR market, the Gear 360 panoramic camera, and will work with Facebook and Oculus to develop light VR and social VR applications. Meanwhile, LG Electronics G5's modularized design is an example for Google's Project Ara, Digitimes Research's report noted.
High-end models are increasingly failing to pull in consumers, and entry-level to mid-range models' contribution to market growth is gradually increasing. Some vendors have started reducing the differences between their entry-level to mid-range models and high-end ones to improve the entry-level to mid-range models' price-performance ratio. LG has recently started adopting dual-lens and stylus features, which were originally seen only in high-end products, into its entry-level to mid-range smartphones.
Sony's mainstream Xperia X and flagship Xperia X Performance smartphones also have only small differences in specifications.
Meanwhile, China-based vendors that focus mainly on overseas markets, and which face increasing competition from other China-based players and regional brand vendors, are becoming more aggressive on product development. TCL is pushing smartphones with VR functionality and has achieved faster progress than other competitors. Gionee has adopted pressure sensors to present functionality similar to Apple iPhone's Force Touch.