Two days ago, Umidigi revealed another smartphone, the F1 Play. This move comes just weeks after the company launched the S3 Pro, a smartphone that itself was announced just a few weeks after the Umidigi F1. Usually, this is not such a bad thing. Samsung has the S10, S10+ and S10e. Huawei has the P20, P20 Pro and P20 Lite. Xiaomi has…well, a lot of devices as well that are launched rather close to one another. But Umidigi’s case is different.
All three devices are very similar. F1 and F1 Play have almost identical specs. S3 Pro has a newer CPU and ceramic body to make it feel more premium, but almost identical specs to the other two. Furthermore, Umidigi already had other devices launched just a few months ago that are similar to the ones they released now: the Umidigi Z2, Umidigi One, Umidigi Z2 Pro, etc. All of these devices are in the same price range as well: $200 or $290 for the “Pro” lineups. But things get worse than this.
The Umidigi Z2 and Z2 Pro launched with Android 8.1. Just a few months after they announced the Umidigi F1 that has the same specs (CPU, RAM, Internal Storage, etc), slightly different design, but with Android 9 out of the box. The Z2 and Z2 Pro devices are now forgotten and fail to receive any updates. We tested a Z2 Pro here on the site and its last security patch was from July 2018. Instead of continuing to support what devices they have, even if for just one year, they launch device after device with the same specs and price, abandoning the old ones as they go. Maybe their products are end-of-life from a support point of view the minute they live the factory.
You may say that Xiaomi has a similar strategy, and partially you are right. Xiaomi has quite a few models that have similar specs and prices, but unlike Umidigi, they have far greater software support. If you buy a device from them now, you don’t have to worry that in 3 month’s time your device will be completely outdated since software updates are offered for two years or more by Xiaomi. Yes, maybe the design will be a bit different, but except for that, your device will compete head-to-head with the new offering (assuming it is the same price range).
Maybe Umidigi’s strategy is working for now. They are definitely not the only ones doing it. There are quite a few B-Brand smartphone manufacturers that are doing the exact same thing. But for how long will this work? Customer will eventually learn that the company completely abandons their devices in a few months and focus on the new ones, even if they offer nothing new. At that point, they will start losing sales big time. Especially since there are alternatives from other brands with a similar price and similar specs, but with good software support.
What is your take on this? I would love to know what you think of this business strategy.