How come durability has become a new selling point of mobile phones?

This is a three-proof mobile phone: dustproof, waterproof, and dropproof.

It can be seen from the appearance that it is very capable of fighting and very resistant to damage.

AMG's flagship G2 GT comes standard with a large 7000mAh battery, a 500m field of view thermal imager, IP69K waterproof certification, and can easily survive 1,000 drops from 1.5 meters…

The overflowing protection and volume and weight determine that the rugged mobile phones represented by it are only suitable for use in outdoor, adventure, industrial and other scenarios, and will not be targeted at the mass market.

But OPPO wants to break through the barriers of traditional market segments: using the idea of ​​assembling "special equipment" to create a mass mobile phone-A3 Pro.

OPPO A3 Pro, the muscular man among thousand-yuan phones

OPPO currently has four series on sale:

  • Find X
  • Reno
  • K
  • A

The A3 Pro, which will be released on April 12, belongs to the entry-level series, with a price range of 1,000-2,000 yuan.

OPPO’s warm-up before this press conference was uncharacteristically uncharacteristic. While its friends and merchants were all talking about product features such as imaging, large screens, and AI, they put “durability” in the most prominent position, trying to combine unusual The talent of "Three Defenses" is brought to the homes of ordinary people.

Moreover, the A3 Pro has been divided into three subdivided selling points: "super waterproof", "super anti-fall" and "super durable".

Let’s talk about waterproofing first, because the waterproof level of A3 Pro is really rare.

According to official propaganda, this new phone supports the highest IP69 waterproof level, which is almost the same as the waterproof effect of the G2 GT at the beginning.

IP refers to the international general protection standard "GB/T 4208-2017 Enclosure Protection Level".

The first number from left to right represents the "dust protection level coefficient". Level 6 is completely dustproof (another way of saying it is against fine dust).

The last digit represents the "waterproof grade coefficient". Level 9 can protect against high temperature and high pressure water jets. The current top-tier IP68 in the mobile phone industry generally refers to "can survive under 1.5m water depth for no more than 30 minutes."

OPPO is very confident in the waterproof effect this time. It posted three Weibo posts in a row to introduce that A3 Pro has three waterproof standards: IP69, IP68, and IP66, and gave an official explanation:

  • IP69=Supports protection against high-pressure hot water spray
  • IP68=supports water resistance
  • IP66=Supports protection against strong water spray

From the official tone, we saw an A3 Pro that is “water-insulated”, and this is just the beginning.

The second highlight of the A3 Pro is its “super drop resistance”. The entire phone, from the inside out, has almost nothing to do with drop resistance.

Judging from the official certification, OPPO A3 Pro has obtained the SGS (private private organization, unofficial mandatory standard) Gold Label five-star complete machine anti-fall certification and achieved full marks; it has also passed the national military standard impact resistance test.

In terms of hardware configuration, the front glass of the A3 Pro uses the same model as the OPPO flagship series. Compared with the previous generation, the drop resistance is increased by 180% and the scratch resistance is increased by 300%; the back glass is equipped with OPPO’s first " "Crystal Shield Glass", the drop resistance is 160% higher than that of products of the same grade.

From the internal structure, A3 Pro adopts OPPO’s ultra-drop-resistant diamond architecture for the first time. The motherboard and components in the phone have been redesigned for drop resistance.

In short, OPPO has created a product that is incompatible with mainstream thousand-yuan phones. They did not introduce the A3 Pro in all aspects, but only grasped the feature of "durability" and explained it thoroughly.

It is said that good steel is used on the blade. In OPPO’s view, the A3 Pro’s blade can withstand manufacturing. Looking back at the slogan above, it is hard to believe that this is a mobile phone released in 2024. This kind of “All "Durable" strategy, it is even hard to believe that this is a feature that a mobile phone should have.

But, is "durable" really useful?

Can a durable mobile phone withstand the test?

Each mobile phone brand will put different labels on its various models, which often represents the "character" of a series of products.

Huawei's Mate series focuses on business, while the P series is the imaging flagship; OPPO and vivo dominate the market for portrait photography; Xiaomi's digital series started with cost-effectiveness, and have been struggling for several years to hit the high-end and tear off the label.

As for Apple, it has made the word "Apple" into a kind of personality: unshakable and going its own way.

This time, OPPO chose the "durable" label on the A3 Pro, and even tried to use the official name of "Durable King" to firmly weld this impression into its own DNA. The last one to do this was Nokia.

From 1996 to 2011, Nokia led the global mobile phone market for nearly 15 years, and its market share even reached an unprecedented 50.9% in 2007.

Back then, Nokia was able to create a global mobile phone "dynasty" for three core reasons:

  • Can be used to open walnuts
  • There is no possibility of anxious battery life
  • A hundred flowers bloom, never the same product updates

However, when the successful conclusion of 20 years ago is applied to today's mobile phone market, it will become the main culprit that kills the brand.

Product continuity design is currently an important criterion for judging the success of a series of models. Manufacturers with top shipments such as Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi all have a consistent design language on their flagship models, and they will not change easily.

After the full screen ushered in the era of mobile Internet and smartphones, it integrated many functions and became an indispensable part of our lives. Of course, it is impossible to expect that the single-function machine that intelligently made calls and sent and received messages would still exist. battery life.

Robustness and durability are not very relevant to current consumer electronics, and the smartphone industry has always been resistant to this feature.

Consumer electronics products have two major characteristics: first, they must find user demands so that consumers can pay for them before they can be sold; secondly, the products are also consumables, and only with repurchases can they have a future.

As a core product in the field of consumer electronics, smartphone manufacturers do not really care about durability. Instead, they hope that users will replace their phones before they wear out.

Mobile phone systems are updated once every six months and once every two months; mobile phone batteries have become larger, but battery health has also declined as the screen usage time has soared; chip companies are also working day and night to catch up with "Moore's Law" which is about to reach the edge; The storage space of the device has increased, but the "small but beautiful" apps and high-quality photos of more than ten megabytes each make the 256GB mobile phone space a little cramped.

Many people have not yet understood the latest flagship model they bought a few months ago, and the next generation will be released in two months.

No manufacturer will admit the statement of "planned obsolescence", but all these iterations of mobile phones labeled as "explosive technological growth" seem to be urging us: You are out, hurry up and keep up!

According to IDC's data report, global smartphone shipments in 2023 will drop 3.2% year-on-year to 1.17 billion units, which is the lowest full-year shipments in ten years.

This is a record achieved even as major manufacturers are making every effort to update their products, optimize market segments, and focus on sinking high-end markets.

In the "Ice Age" of the mobile phone market, whoever does not run or make progress will become the mascot in the history textbooks of consumer electronics.

In such a general environment, if we continue to emphasize the "durability" of the A3 Pro, it seems that we have chosen the wrong time and the wrong route.

However, the above are only the perspective of manufacturers. When we sit in the seat of consumers, we will find that the most useless "durability" may be the new selling point of smartphones.

Some people are pretending to be asleep, and some people are very awake.

As consumers become more pragmatic in their purchasing choices, we have noticed a growing demand among mass users for a longer-lasting and more reliable mobile phone experience.

Liu Bo, President of OPPO China, emphasized in the promotional letter of OPPO A3 Pro that durability is the result of user orientation and has become the primary consideration for many mass users when choosing mobile phones.

When smartphone sales peaked in 2016 and replacement cycles gradually lengthened, durability became increasingly important.

The most important thing is battery durability and health. Battery health has even become one of the decisive factors in the second-hand iPhone price.

Furthermore, new materials and structures developed by mobile phone manufacturers have also made mobile phones more durable, such as iPhone's super magnetic crystal glass, Corning's Victus 2 glass, Huawei's Kunlun glass and Xuanwu architecture, and every press conference is very The important but must-mentioned waterproof and dustproof function.

Even for niche folding screens with few existing users, the number of times the flexible screen can be folded, as well as the strength and durability of the hinge, will be highlighted.

Therefore, the priority of durability in the selling point of mobile phones has begun to become higher and higher.

According to a report from market research organization TechInsights, the global smartphone replacement cycle will continue to lengthen to 51 months, the longest in history, in 2023. Chinese consumers replace their phones more frequently, but it still exceeds 40 months.

In other words, many consumers will change their mobile phones only once every four years.

Numiao CEO Li Nan once wrote that this is the best proof of the excessive performance of flagship chips. In the early years, everyone's replacement cycle was usually 1 to 2 years, because the performance of mobile phones at that time could not keep up with the actual needs of users. At most, 3-year-old models would become very laggy, and the system When the version is upgraded, the mobile phone has to be replaced.

Nowadays, the overall performance of mobile phones has overflowed, which has become the fundamental reason why users have gradually become "old-style nail users".

Therefore, compared with the manufacturer's goal of "replacing a new phone every year", it is more important to increase user stickiness and allow everyone to use the same brand of mobile phones for a long time.

Except for outdoor phones like AGM, mass consumer mobile phones rarely use durability as their first selling point. A3 Pro chooses to focus on this point, which means that in the face of an increasingly long replacement cycle, which can last as long as three or four years, finally some manufacturers have started to Change your thinking:

Since there is no way to drive replacement, especially for entry-level mobile phones, it is better to change the idea and give you a durable mobile phone so that users can rest assured not to change phones.

Moreover, A-series users are price-sensitive users, which also means users who are more cautious about replacement costs. With the large-scale decentralization of curved screens to mid-to-low-end models, the cost of replacing broken screens is also higher, so durability may really be the number one demand of the customer group.

So now, to turn the durability of A30 Pro into a selling point, there is only one last hurdle left:

How to resolve the contradiction between durability and repurchase?

In 2002, Crocs, the originator of Crocs shoes, officially debuted at a boat show in the United States, and 200 pairs of inventory were sold out at the scene.

In 2007, Crocs made a profit of US$168.2 million, and everyone from toddlers to elderly grandmothers wore Crocs Crocs shoes. This trend also spread to China on the other side of the ocean, and "new sandals" of various colors suddenly entered the streets.

Just one year later, Crocs was revealed to have lost $185 million for the year, and its stock price fell 76%. Crocs had already earned US$800 million in the four years before it went public, and its stock price almost tripled after its listing. The management, dazzled by the prosperous times in front of them, launched product line expansion and acquisition plans, which also opened the door for Crocs to start a new era since its founding. The first low point lasted for 10 years.

Industry insiders pointed out that the decline in Crocs’ sales is indeed related to its disorderly expansion, but the selling point of the product itself is an important reason for its decline:

  • Crocs are only suitable for wearing in summer. No one will buy them in winter. Sales are cyclical.
  • The quality of Crocs is very good, and they even claim that a pair can be worn for a lifetime, which discourages consumers from repurchasing and leads to unsaleable products.

For consumers, the above two may become points of appeal for repurchase, but Crocs has had a flaw since its birth that many people cannot tolerate: ugly.

  • "TIME" named Crocs one of the 50 worst inventions, and the "Los Angeles Times" described it as "one of the ugliest objects on earth" shoes;
  • "Maxim" listed it as one of the 10 worst things that happened to men in 2007;
  • A Facebook group "Let's Burn Crocs!" was created.

Being out of the circle is because of its special ugliness, and declining because of its special ugliness.

Therefore, Crocs realized that "how to get more people to accept this ugly shoe" is the top priority.

In 2016, fashion designer Christopher Kane decorated Crocs with gems and brought them to the show; in 2018, Balenciaga equipped Crocs with 10 cm thick soles and wore them in fashion week; in 21, Crocs and former YEEZY designer and former Versace sneaker designer Salehe Bembury collaborated to launch Pollex Clog, allowing Crocs to become hard currency in the secondary market for a while…

Although people still have mixed reviews about Crocs, even though it still doesn't look that good, the "cheap feeling" has gradually disappeared from Crocs in these years of joint collaboration.

Returning to the Chinese market, Crocs has collaborated with popular celebrities to focus on fashion for young people. With a large number of DIY projects on Xiaohongshu, the "breathable and durable" slippers have transformed into a fashion choice for young people.

Cheap price and durability are not the original sins that affect repurchase, but the feeling of cheapness is.

So, looking back at this OPPO A3 Pro, what the official emphasizes is that it is very durable, which is the face; what the official does not say is its design, which is the face.

A3 Pro is not ugly, and it even has an atmosphere that goes beyond the price: a curved screen, a glass back panel, and the top version even has plain leather.

While mobile phone manufacturers are attacking high-end phones priced at 10,000 yuan, they can also make products priced at 1,000 yuan look decent. The biggest significance for consumers is: they don’t have to worry about daily use, and the price will not drop when they go out.

This may be why durability can also be a selling point of mobile phones.

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