realme Key to Europe’s Affordable 5G Smartphone Growth

5G is growing rapidly in Europe. 5G sales in the region more than doubled over 2020 and accounted for half of all smartphone sales in Q3 2021 (up from just 14% in Q3 2020). The key to this growth is the push of 5G down into the lower price tiers. 5G smartphones accounted for the majority of sales in the mid-price ($250-$499 wholesale) segment in Q3 2021, up from 21% in the previous year. Even in the budget segment (<$250), 5G smartphones accounted for 15% of sales in Q3 2021, up from practically nothing in Q3 2020.

5G moving down the price points in Europe

realme seeing success with affordable 5G smartphones

realme was one of the main drivers of cheaper 5G smartphones in Europe in 2021 (globally too), showcasing impressive growth compared to 2020. realme’s 5G volumes grew 763% between Q3 2020 and Q3 2021, resulting in realme becoming a top-five major Android 5G brand behind Samsung, Xiaomi (including Redmi and POCO), OPPO and OnePlus. It wasn’t even in the top 10 last year.

realme fastest growing major 5G Android brand in Europe

Counterpoint Research realme fastest growing major 5G Android brand in Europe
Note: Xiaomi includes Redmi and POCO

realme’s best-selling 5G smartphone in Europe in Q3 2021 was the realme 8 5G, which accounted for almost 30% of the brand’s total 5G sales. This smartphone is also the cheapest 5G smartphone available in Europe today, retailing at €199 ($225). This has helped push the overall 5G ASP in Europe to below $550 in Q3 2021, down from $620 only two quarters ago.

realme is seeing good growth in some of the key markets of Europe, including the UK, Italy and Poland.

In the UK, realme’s 5G sales have mostly focussed on the more premium end of its portfolio, particularly the GT and X50 series. realme’s smartphones are not carried by the operators, a major reason why realme is still a relatively small brand in the UK with a 1% share of 5G smartphone sales in Q3 2021. However, sales from the realme website or through channels like Amazon are growing strongly, and with 5G moving down the price tiers (accounting for over half of sub-$500 sales in the UK in Q3 2021), realme’s affordable 5G offerings are well-positioned to grow even further in 2022.

Italy, meanwhile, is a much more price-conscious market than the UK, resulting in a more conducive environment for affordable and up-and-coming brands like realme. The 5G ASP in Italy was $519 in Q3 2021, the lowest in Western Europe, and realme, with the lowest 5G ASP among all major brands in Italy ($293 in Q3 2021), is finding favour with its attractive mix of affordability and functionality. In addition, operators Vodafone Italia and TIM both carry realme’s 5G smartphones. Good sales of the realme 7 5G, 8 5G and GT helped the brand capture over 4% share of 5G smartphone sales in Italy in Q3 2021 (up from less than 3% a year ago).

In Poland, 5G smartphone shipments have almost tripled over 2020, and challenger brands are increasingly staking their claim. realme is growing particularly strongly in Poland, with its share of 5G shipments increasing from practically nothing in Q3 2020 to almost 2% in Q3 2021.

2022 should see further growth for realme

Affordable 5G will be a focus area for most smartphone brands this year, and realme should continue to see growth in this area. realme’s latest 5G smartphones, such as the 9/9 Pro and GT2/GT2 Pro, expected to launch in Europe in the next few months, will build on the success of last year’s devices and help realme maintain its position as one of the fastest growing brands in Europe.

New realme smartphones will help drive 5G in Europe


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Jan is an Associate Director with Counterpoint Research, based in London, and leads the company’s research in Europe. He is a seasoned analyst with over 13 years’ experience in the TMT sector, most recently with GSMA Intelligence where he was responsible for key research deliverables and led a team of analysts producing highly impactful regional insights. Before that, Jan held strategy and analyst positions at Vodafone and Qualcomm, and started his career with research firm TNS (now Kantar).

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