Interview: Realme’s Madhav Sheth talks Realme 8 5G, laptops, and 2021 ambitions
Realme introduced Realme 8 5G in India a few days ago and on the occasion of the launch we spoke with Mr. Madhav Sheth – Vice President of Realme and CEO of Realme India and Europe – so we could learn more about the company’s ambitions in 2021, the success of the number series, plans for affordable laptops and tablets and the location of Realme 8 5G. You can read the interview below for full details.
Mr. Madhav Sheth – Vice President of Realme and CEO of Realme India and Europe
Based on the specifications, 8 5G feels like a downgrade compared to 7 5G – does that mean it will be placed differently, or should we look for upgrades on the software side?
We did not launch Realme 7 5G in India, but yes, we did launch in some other countries with commercialized 5G. The price is also far more affordable. Realme aims to be a 5G leader in India and globally to democratize 5G to the masses. So yes, it is the most affordable 5G smartphone on the market and yet stands out as a holistically powerful offering with the latest mid-range 5G processor that lacks nothing.
In terms of software upgrades, yes. First, Realme 8 5G comes with Realme UI 2.0 out of the box! Another significant upgrade is the new Dynamic RAM Expansion Technology (DRE), which converts storage / ROM to virtual RAM. According to the test data, 4 GB with DRE can turn into 5 GB and 8 GB can become 11 GB – all of which are virtual ROM conversions. At this price point, I think it provides significant added value to the consumer with a good mid-range experience and enhanced 5G capabilities.
Since India still does not have a commercially available 5G network, do you feel that 8 5G will be disadvantaged? Will it still be able to compete with one of its key features that is canceled by the slow rollout?
1.5G is without a doubt the future trend, and this year Realme aims to be the leader of 5G and democratize it to the masses. For the X-Series, we believe that it should definitely be 5G, while for mid-range products INR 10 ~ 20k, there is mixed demand from consumers. So you will notice that there can be 4G and 5G models simultaneously for one product. For us, there are two different product lines, while for consumers we are happy to give them both options so they can choose according to their preferences. Yes, due to the higher cost of 5G, which concentrates the latest R&D processor manufacturer, there may be some difference in the specifications. But at Realme, we never compromise on the experience. We want to ensure that the comprehensive experience is still first-class and that there is no compromise in its segment. We believe in leaving a number of the best possible options for consumers and letting them choose.
As you can see, for commercially viable 5G networks, the industry is making great efforts including leading Indian telecommunications companies, smartphone brands, etc., and we can expect 5G networks to roll out as soon as next year.
A 5G smartphone also offers the power of the latest nanoscale 5G processor that provides enhanced power management, screen optimization, camera support, gaming performance, etc. Combined with Realme’s gene of design, technology and quality. Realme has equipped the Realme 8 5G with MediaTek Dimensity 700, dual SIM dual standby 5G processors that support most standard 5G bands and ensure that your phone is protected from obsolescence for the next five years. The Indian consumer is looking for a long lasting, superior ownership experience and Realme believes in equipping them.
If we accept that 5G is more about securing the future than the utility right now, can you commit to long-term software support for 8 5G? Or other incentives to get people to hold the phone long enough so they can take advantage of its NR support?
As a leading brand, Realme is committed to 2-year software support for Realme smartphones and is the only brand in the industry that pushes regular updates to ensure the best experience every month. Realme also launched the Real Upgrade Program so that users can always update to the latest Realme 5G phones in the program with only 70% of the price.
How are the number series compared to the rest of the Realme series – either as specific numbers or as a percentage of total sales?
The Number series, our youth’s flagship, has always been a crowd-puller with its advanced proposals for camera experience, display, fast charging features and design. To date, we have got 19MN + number series users in India. In 2020, more than 40% of our sales came from our number series, according to IDC.
When we spoke at the end of last year, you mentioned that we will see fewer auxiliary cameras – 2 / 5MP macro and depth sensors that contribute a little to the overall shooting experience. And yet we are here with each of the 8 series having a couple of them – are we closer to the point where these will be left out in favor of better main / ultra-wide cameras, or have the plans changed?
From now on, according to our study in society, there are still some users who especially like macro functions. We would still like to keep the options for them for a while while continuing to improve our main camera. In fact, these two are not in conflict with each other.
Last year, the COVID pandemic prevented your MWC debut – are you planning to attend this year?
We assess this fundamentally current relationship. You will soon hear more from us about this.
With more and more people working and studying from home during the pandemic than before, are you planning to launch affordable laptops and tablets aimed at this audience? Especially tablets, as there are limited options in this category right now on the Android site.
We have received very interesting feedback from our Realme community, including laptops. We do not want to comment on this right now as it is too early. But we feel happy that our media friends and fans trust Realme as their favorite brand to give them new fresh products. Meeting the technology needs of a large number of populations who work and study from home with differentiated products is becoming a key requirement for brands, and we have set up several exciting developments. Stick around!
What are Realme’s ambitions for 2021 – in terms of product range and market share? Any specific goals that you have set in addition to continuing your impressive growth?
If 2020 saw us grow as a Disruptor from a Challenger brand, 2021 will see us grow in strength.
First, Realme aims to be the TOP 3 smartphone brand and the No. 1 online smartphone brand by saying 25-30 million in sales on smartphones in CY2021. However, the share issue continues for the entire industry. Therefore, we will make the best effort to supply at least 25-30 million units to meet market demand, but this will be evaluated quarterly in the actual case.
Second, 5G is an important growth driver for us, and we are increasing our 5G-enabled smartphone portfolio. Half of our portfolio will be 5G phones, and all product lines above the INR 20k come with 5G chipsets.
From a product-specific point of view, this year we are penetrating deeper into the premium segment with our X-series, Ultimate Flagship, and aiming for a 15% market share in the INR 20-30k category. In addition, we plan to capture 10-15% market share in the mid-range 4G market and 25% market share in the entry segment with the Realme C series.
Finally, as you know, AIOT is another springboard of massive growth and we have set our goal to become the number 1 Audio / Wearable / Smart TV brand with 15MN AIOT users in India and build Realme TechLife eco-platform with Realmes own product and partner brand.