Once there was a small Chinese company called BBK. It started with OPPO and vivo (which is also a brand of phones that is now available in Australia) and then OnePlus. Now a fourth BBK sibling ‘realme’ is headed down under.

The combined output of BBK either makes it the second or third largest smartphone maker on the planet – well ahead of Huawei and its Honor brand. However, BBK reports sales separately for each – perhaps self-competition is what drives it on.

We are not quite sure where realme sits – its publicity states, “Providing smartphones to young audiences – including students and young professionals – who want the latest technology, functionality and stylish design at an affordable price.”

OK, so OPPO is the leading brand, first to market in Australia and now moving upmarket with flagships and cutting-edge handsets like the OPPO Reno 10X lossless zoom and 5G model. It’s also building mass-and-mid-market appeal with the outstandingly successful OPPO Reno Z, A-and-R-series.

Then Vivo – the ‘workers phone’ recently launched its Y17 ($369) and its S1 ($449 and review here) at JB Hi-Fi. On paper, both appear to offer fantastic value for money, however we haven’t tested them yet. Vivo is also playing in the dual-screen, foldable space, so more to come here.

OnePlus has the motto – ‘Never Settle’ – and it has built its reputation on being premium, leading-edge and just a little different. At present, the only phones sold in Australia are grey market imports and OnePlus is working on its genuine Australian channel strategy.

Back to realme (website here)

realme

realme is taking the ‘disruptive’ approach and targeting ‘young, real, stylish, outstanding’ people. It will launch in Australia on 17 October and sell online and via JB HiFi, The Good Guys, Bing Lee and more. 

The brand is only two years old and operates out of OPPO’s factory in Shenzen. It is bringing four models to Australia and as it only makes four – the realme X, X Master Edition, C2 and 3 Pro, you can be pretty sure that this is what we will get here. Prices range from $200-$500 and the more expensive models use Qualcomm 710AIE SoC and AMOLED screens. They also share OPPO’s Color OS user interface.

realme

The young realme has successfully entered 19 regions including India, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan and Egypt. It is breaking sales records in multiple countries and becoming the fastest-growing ‘young brand’.

realme is expected to offer consumer finance in Australia, working closely with leading provider Make It Mine, with consumers able to access realme products through the platform. 

And back to BBK

First, any smartphone from the BBK family will be well made, high value, fully-featured and have terrific local support. OPPO has paved the way here, and now BBK can attack segments from pre-paid, postpaid (unlocked) and right up to 5G-capable models with a premium camera experience.

Founder 58-year-old Duan Yongping is the godfather of the Chinese smartphone industry. His mantra is benfen, which loosely translates to integrity and honesty.

The corporate structure is now a partnership program that led to the creation of independent business entities. Former OPPO VP Chen founded OPPO in 2004. Similarly, Shen formed Vivo in 2009. Pete Lau, the founder and chief executive of OnePlus, and Sky Li, founder of Realme, previously worked as vice-presidents at OPPO.

BBK is continually working on the market segmentation of each brand. What is clear is that it gets four bites at the cherry, and that strategy is working well.

As far as GadgetGuy can ascertain, there is no Chinse Government involvement in BBK’s shareholding or affiliations with its senior executives. We’ll continue to look closely at realme’s handsets as they come to market.