China's Meizu eyes slice of SA smartphone market

Meizu is hoping to take on more established smartphone players in SA with the likes of its Pro 6 handset. (Supplied)
Meizu is hoping to take on more established smartphone players in SA with the likes of its Pro 6 handset. (Supplied)

Johannesburg - A new Chinese entrant in the South African phone market is hoping its easier-to-pronounce brand name will give it a boost against some of its other competitors.

'Meizu', which first started selling smartphones in 2007, has a simpler name than Chinese phone brands Huawei and Xiaomi - two companies that have recently entered South Africa.

Distributor 2C Telecoms is selling the R7 999 Meizu Pro 6 and the R3 299 M3 Note - after it quietly debuted Meizu’s M2 handset on the now defunct South African Orange store six months ago.

French telecommunications company Orange Group pulled the plug on its South African phone sales operation in December last year to focus more on its core footprint markets.

The exit of Orange, though, left a gap for the sale of lower cost smartphones in South Africa and products that aren't readily available via the bigger mobile networks.

As a result, Meizu has launched a website that sells its own phones and accessories as it continues discussions with mobile networks on possible distribution agreements.

And Meizu’s national marketing director, Francois van Louw of 2C Telecoms, said he thinks the time is right for another Chinese entrant into the South African phone market.

"At the beginning when smartphones really started penetrating the market, South Africans were only comfortable with your top-tier brands like your American brands and your Korean brands,” van Louw told Fin24.

"We found that the market was really adapting towards the Chinese devices.

"Just some of our competitors have very difficult names to pronounce and I think that is where we have a small advantage. I think our name rolls off the tongue bit,” van Louw said.

Features and history

Both the Pro 6 and M3 Note feature fingerprint authentication and the Flyme operating system, which is a layer atop Android that promises more slick features.

Pictured above: The Meizu M3 Note. (Supplied)

The Pro 6 further features a 5.2-inch screen covered in scratch resistant Gorilla Glass 4, a 10-core CPU, a 21MP main camera and an aluminium body.

The dual-SIM M3 Note has a 4 100 mAh battery, 13MP main camera, 5MP front facing camera, and 2GB RAM.

Meizu, though, faces the uphill task of promoting its brand in South Africa despite the fact that it has been established in China since 2003.

Meizu formally entered the Chinese smartphone market in 2007 with the launch of the Meizu M8, and has since become one of the top ten biggest smartphone brands in China.

"Meizu actually started as a company that sold MP3 players,” van Louw told Fin24.

"In 2007, they launched their first smartphone which was called the Meizu M8. From there, they've been growing in leaps and bounds and they've really started to take the market,” he said.

"We're actually targeting the client who wants something different,” he added.

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