Smartphone brands seem to be disappearing one after the other in France. A situation that does not suit either enthusiasts or consumers.
What is the best smartphone in 2023? Undoubtedly, a Samsung smartphone or an Apple iPhone. And for good reason, the competitors of the two giants are gradually disappearing from the market, when they could offer very strong alternatives. You may not have felt it yet, but the smartphone is getting a little sad to follow in France in 2023.
Huawei: the beginnings of change
Before arriving at the situation of 2023, we must rewind a few years back. Huawei’s situation is not new, but it is in a way the first domino before the decline that we can observe today. We cannot say that the brand has disappeared, since it still offers smartphones. But without access to the Google Play Store, it must be admitted that it has become much more difficult to calmly recommend a Huawei smartphone. Too bad, because the brand offered smartphones that were really different from its competitors, integrating its own Kirin chips and a unique software interface, like the excellent (in its time) Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
The brand does not give up and continues to seek ways to circumvent the American embargo, but in the meantime, it remains a shadow of itself.
2023 marks the end of the party for several brands
We are coming to 2023 which has seen an acceleration of this tightening of the market between a few large players
Oppo and OnePlus leave France?
After several months of upheaval, the Chinese manufacturer Oppo officially no longer has a distributor in France as of July 24, 2023. The same goes for the OnePlus brand which belongs to the manufacturer. For its part, the brand low-cost Realme, still within the same group, seems to have been kindly neglected with very light communication for several months.
In any case, it seems that OnePlus, Oppo and Realme smartphones will soon no longer be marketed in France at all. The latest flagships, the Oppo Find X6 Pro and X6 have never found their way to the French market.
Officially, Oppo has never announced its withdrawal from our market, but the manufacturer did leave German territory earlier this year.
Asus gives up in turn?
Since August 28, we believe that it is Asus who would throw in the towel in turn. The brand would continue to work on its ROG Phone range, but would have permanently ended the Zenfone family. The Zenfone 10 was one of our favorites of the year, despite some shortcomings against the industry giants.
Why are manufacturers giving up?
We can find political or legal reasons in the misadventures of Huawei and Oppo, but the reality behind their retreat from the smartphone may be purely economic. The smartphone market is no longer as juicy as before, minus 14.6% in the previous three months alone compared to 2022.
If the smartphone market has experienced great growth in these first years, pushing many manufacturers to try to bite into a piece of it, this is no longer the case today. The market is even in decline, due to the maturity of the product which is slowing down renewal, and the economic crisis which is taking the smartphone away from purchasing priorities.
We are therefore very far from the period when brands and references multiplied on the market. Now we are in the age of reason where only manufacturers with strong shoulders can continue this race.
Who is left?
This article is an opportunity to take stock of the players still well established in the smartphone market in France. First there is Apple and Samsung of course. The two giants account for 96% of the sector’s profits in the first quarter of the year, according to Counterpoint. A figure that suggests a future duopoly between the two rivals. They are followed by Xiaomi and its many references targeting all price ranges, which has managed to solidify its 3rd place and a large lead over the rest of the pack.
Behind this trio, we can mention Google, which continues to offer its Pixels with a strategy that evolves from year to year. There is also the Chinese manufacturer Lenovo through its Motorola brand which is gaining points, in particular with its latest folding smartphone. Honor, an offshoot of Huawei’s smartphone activities but with the Google Play Store, also remains very present. The last Chinese manufacturer to hit the market, Vivo is also still around.
Then there are a few smaller market players such as Nokia (HMD Global), Sony Xperia, Fairphone, or Nothing or specialists in certain niches such as Dorro or Crosscall.
Why is it sad?
Even if we can still list a handful of brands still very present in France, we can no longer say that it is accompanied by the diversity of yesteryear. The disappearance or withdrawal of players like Huawei or Asus would mean fewer innovative ideas for the smartphone. Gone are the days when you could count on LG or HTC to effectively challenge Samsung, even on the very top of the range.
Most of the brands we have mentioned among those still present belong to American or Chinese manufacturers. They all follow the same trends in terms of design or technical characteristics. In fact, the consumer faces fewer and fewer choices. The fewer the players present in France and coming from different backgrounds, the less we will have the right to diversity when choosing a smartphone.