Interview: Realme’s Madhav Sheth talks about 5G in India, future Realme strategies and more

Indian telecos and goverment both are keen to introduce 5G services in India. PM Modi talked about 5G in India during his Indipendence day speech and promised that country will soon commence 5G networks which may bring changes in common man’s lives.

Its not just government of India and telcos that are upbeat about rollout of 5G services. Smartphone markers like Realme is also hoping to play its part in with its 5G smartphones and IoT devices. Realme aims to democratise the 5G in India, according to Madhav Sheth, CEO, Realme India, VP, Realme and President, Realme International Business Group.

In an interaction with Smartprix, Sheth talks about Realme’s rumored ban on 12K segment, 5G devices, AIoT range, premium tablet and laptops. Here are the excerpts:

There have been reports that the government is mulling to sub 12k market to Indian OEMs only. If true, how much will it impact your business? 

Yes, there were conversations and speculations about such a move coming into play, but over the past few days, the government has clarified that no such thing is being planned. realme is completely aligned with ‘Make in India’ initiative and has established several strong partnerships with OEMs to manufacture its products within India over the last four years, and all realme smartphones are 100% manufactured in India.

Realme VP
Mr. Madhav Sheth, CEO, realme India, VP, realme and President, realme International Business Group.

We have also brought a large part of the supply chain to India, with 60-70% of the components being sourced locally. Another ask is that we increase exports from India to other countries, and we have been doing this already. We started exporting smartphones to a few South-Asian countries in 2021 and are expanding our export capabilities.

Also, our entire distributor network is from India. In terms of business and performance, realme has been growing exponentially. As per the most recent report by IDC, we have become the second largest smartphone manufacturer in India in Q2, 2022, and I believe we will be able to retain that position.

What are realme’s plans for launching 4G smartphones after completing the 5G rollout in India? 

As a pioneer in 5G, realme will continue to democratize 5G models to lower price points so that many people may afford them. However, we are aware that certain customers continue to want cutting-edge technology at all price points and a 4G phone. As you can see, in order to accomplish this, we have planned 9 series 4G and 5G versions. We already introduced realme 9i, a 4G model designed to meet user demand and launch a 5G version of the same. While 50% of our realme smartphones will be 5G equipped by 2022, we’ll expand our 4G penetration & offer more 4G phones to users.

realme has launched half a dozen or more 5G smartphones in the last two years in India. Will those 5G phones support networks in India? 

To access the 5G network you need the availability of the 5G bands, which is there in all our 5G smartphones. So, all realme 5G smartphones we have launched so far will support the 5G network.

What can we expect from realme in the Indian tablet market? Can we expect a high-end tablet from realme any time soon? 

We entered the tablet segment in H2 of 2021 and have already launched three tablets and all of them are doing extremely well in the market. At realme, we are constantly studying the demands of our users and bringing new products accordingly.

With the possibility of 5G network roll-out in the upcoming months, we felt that there was a need for a tablet that supported 5G, and hence we launched the realme PAD X, which is the industry’s first 5G tablet in the premium mid-range segment. It uses a 6nm Snapdragon 695 processor which is bound to give users an unparalleled experience. We will continue to expand this category further, as and when we see an opportunity for it.

While most of the competitors of realme are offering Foldable smartphones, Is realme to join the bandwagon anytime soon? 

Although the concept of foldable is quite exciting, this technology is currently in the research and development phase. However, I think the technology isn’t yet ready for the market. At realme, we don’t want to introduce a solution that would only benefit our customers momentarily.

Our R&D is primarily concentrated on providing advancements in the camera and quick charging areas since we believe in bringing products that help consumers in the long run and meet their immediate demands. This approach has worked well for us over the last four years and we intend to continue following the same. 

Users are yearning for 5G smartphones right now, and we want to provide them with a range of choices. In addition, realme sells the majority of the fastest-charging smartphones on the market. As a company, we’re always improving smartphone camera features to meet users’ demands and improve and enhance their experience.

realme recently expanded its portfolio and stormed the laptop industry. What are the future plans of the company for the same? 

We have expanded our product portfolio with new additions such as laptops and other devices. Before launching any product, we try to understand the evolving needs of our consumers and believe in bringing out our personal best in terms of technology to ensure that we meet the evolving demands of our consumers.

For instance, our realme book Slim range features two processor variants: the i3 and the i5, additionally, realme Book Slim was also a bestseller on Flipkart, which is a remarkable accomplishment considering we are a new player in the market. Moreover, we will continue to surprise our customers with more ground-breaking technologies across categories in the future as well.

Wearables and hearables have a very decent market in India, can we expect more products?

Over the last four years, realme has expanded into various categories. We started building our AIoT portfolio, or our TechLife Ecosystem, in 2022 with the realme band, and have now launched multiple hearables, wearables, and smart TVs. Last year, we also entered the laptop and tablet markets, and we’ve done quite well.

All our Techlife Ecosystem products can be linked to the smartphone using the realme Link App, enabling users to control all of them conveniently. We have already created our mark in various segments. We are looking at adding new products as well as new categories and providing an even more versatile range to our consumers.

We held a growth by 87.9% YoY with major volumes coming from Buds Wireless 2 Neo and Tech life buds N100 accounting for 42.9% of the overall shipments in Q2, 2022. (IDC). In the wearable and hearable segment, we are always introducing new technologies. Our most recent launched audio products democratized ANC, a function often found in high-end products.

Additionally, we added Bluetooth calling and AMOLED screens to our smartwatch category. Moving forward, we intend to add more affordable audio and wearable products while also exploring additional health assessment features and standalone connectivity.

realme will continue to offer value-for-money and high-technology audio and consumer electronic products which ergonomically come with advanced features, seamless design, and performance, exceeding all consumer’s expectations.

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