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Vietnam to produce $20 smartphones

Vietnam is planning to sell smartphones for VN 500,000 (around US$ 20) under a smartphone universalisation programme, the Minister of Information and Communications (MIC), Nguyen Manh Hung, has said.

According to a press release, speaking at a meeting for MIC for the first quarter, the Minister noted that 2020 would be the year of the universalisation of smartphones.

A Vietnamese smartphone will cost US$ 45-50 to produce. However, with support from mobile operators and application developers, a smartphone can be sold at a lower price.

The Minister emphasised that this year would boost national digital transformation, witnessing the development of Vietnamese digital technology enterprises and the cybersecurity ecosystem.

Cybersecurity products would be made-in-Vietnam, he said.

MIC will take strict measures that require cross-border platforms that do business in Vietnam to comply with the country’s laws.

In particular, the Minister said, the country will host the ITU Digital World 2020 for the first time in this year. This is the largest telecom event ever, with about 130-150 countries attending.

The Ministry did not specify the brand names of smartphones, network operators, and apps. However, industry analysts have named the most suitable candidates for the program. Namely, Vsmart because it is cheap and has a stronger configuration than Chinese products.

As per another press release, Vsmart Bee 3, launched in late 2019, has the quoted retail price of VN 1.39 million (about US $60), but it has a quad-core chip and 2GB RAM. The market is still selling the first-generation Vsmart Bee below VN 1 million (about US$ 43).

Analysts believe that Vsmart will have products priced at VN 1.2 million (about US$ 51) sooner or later.

Vsmart Live and Vsmart Joy 3 both are equipped with mid-class Snapdragon chips, while Chinese rivals use low-class Snapdragon 4xx or Helio.

Vsmart Joy 3, launched recently, has three cameras, while Xiaomi and Realme only use a single camera.

According to a newspaper report, Vsmart phones have surpassed Apple in retail revenue.

Analysts said other smartphone brands do not have the means to sell products for US$ 51 like Vsmart.

In late 2019, Mobiistar products disappeared from retail chains in Vietnam after many years of struggling to exist in the low-cost market segment. The website of the manufacturer has closed.

Before that, Mobiistar stated it would enter the Indian market. But in June 2019, it announced withdrawal from India.

Meanwhile, BKAV, the manufacturer of BPhone, does not intend to join the low-cost market segment.

BKAV invested VN 1 trillion (about US$ 43 million) to manufacture smartphones but still could not make a profit, the company’s CEO said in March last year. Experts have said there is no possibility of BKAV selling BPhone 4 at below VN 5 million (about US$ 215).

Vsmart said earlier this year that its smartphone factory with the capacity of 125 million products a year will be completed soon.

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