There may be a consumer spending bloodbath in the malls and high streets, but that hasn’t slowed down a stream of low-cost, upstart brands entering the smartphone arena. It could well be argued, however, that it’s precisely because of consumer strain that these brands are flourishing. Demand is shifting rapidly from the high-end to mid-range handsets, even as consumers at the low end look to gain more value by migrating from “feature phones” to entry-level smartphones.

The trend is not new, and has seen Chinese phone brands such as Xiaomi and Vivo gain a strong foothold in SA in recent years, Cash Crusaders bringing the Doogee brand in in 2020 and, word has it, the imminent arrival of Vivo’s sister brand, Oppo...

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