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Is the Caribbean Smartphone Market Closer to Asia than America?

When we talk about smartphones, people tend to look at America as the Mecca of the smartphone market. It is easy to see why, America is home to the 2 major tech giants, Google & Apple. While all the designing may go on in Mountain View (Google) and Cupertino (Apple), nothing is actually built in America.

Here in the Caribbean, we tend to follow all of the American tech reviewers, bloggers, YouTubers, service providers and make our purchases based on their expertise. The problem with this, is their needs and market have grown so far apart from our own needs in the Caribbean, keeping up with their trends will either land you with a device that you may not need or you will spend a tonne of money in the process.

In America, purchases of smartphones tend to follow what they can get on a contract or what their credit cards will allow them to spend.  Since all smartphones are made in the European markets, there is a very small small small percentage of phones that actually make their way across the water to land on American soil.

When they do, again they usually cater to people purchasing phones on a contract or who is willing to swipe their credit card. It is not the norm for a customer to walk into a store and say “Hey, let me spend $600 plus off contract to purchase a phone.” This price goes way up by the time these phones land here in the Caribbean.

China is the largest smartphone market in the world and also the largest population. It has completely changed the smartphone game and for the better. As it stands, 6 of the top 10 smartphone makers in the world are Chinese (Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, Lenovo, Oneplus). The below table may be for Q3 but the only changes is the loss of global martketshare for Samsung & Apple, while the rest have grown.


Global smartphone market share

While most of these manufacturers do not sell devices in America, (they don’t need to) but ironically Samsung & Apple struggle to sell phones in their market. Apple has found a bit more success mainly because nobody else makes iOs devices besides them, but Samsung has nowhere near the hold in the Asian markets as they do in the Western markets.

Samsung enjoys the privilege of being a premium device, and their top devices sell closer to $1000usd than any other device. When you sign a contract to get their high-end devices for a couple hundred USD or for free, then hey knock yourself out, but to spend that money for a smartphone when you’re in the Caribbean is getting tougher.

In China, they have realised this. Good phones have gotten very cheap and most of the top OEM’s strive to offer you the same comparable device quality for half the price. I know what your thinking, China is the knock-off capital of the world, and your still right, but things have seriously changed.

The best question we techies have to ask ourselves is if the Oneplus 3T retails for $440 (one of the best phones available) and the Samsung S8 is $840usd, how much more phone are you getting for almost double the price, and are the improvements worth the additional cash?

The top Chinese manufacturers have decided they won’t and do not need to compete with Samsung, they can offer devices with the latest specs and if they shrink their markups, push devices in the largest smartphone markets and sell in volume, they will be in a great position.

LeEco which is best known for their LeTV brand in China and owned by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting learned the hardware about expanding to the US. LeEco was forced to lay off 72% of their workforce in America this week. If you do not have carrier support and the help of offering contracts to customers to get the devices for cheap or free in America, your product will not pick up traction. Carriers push and sell devices in America. Most of us do not think of running to our service providers to buy a phone due to high prices.

In the Asian markets, however, being able to pay cash for a device and the ability to change your devices often is a major plus. Good phones offering bleeding edge tech have come down a great deal in price, one wonders how will Samsung be able to keep pumping out devices with high price tags when every year they continue to lose market share to Chinese OEM’s like Huawei, Oppo, Vivo.

Americans know that if they want to be able to get money out of their customers, they need to offer them high-end devices for cheap, and the only way service providers can recoup costs is over a period of time through contracts. In China, they understand, people want quality at a great price, they also want to change their smartphones often.

In the Caribbean, we do not have contracts with our providers in a traditional sense, if you want a discount on a device, you have to be willing to take a larger monthly plan and that will dictate your discount. It is still much much cheaper to purchase the device online or at a local store.

So after all this, I am sure you must be asking, what is the solution you are presenting? Simple, open your eyes beyond Samsung & Apple, start getting familiar with some of the major brands in Europe and open up to getting quality and Value.

Nothing wrong with getting an iPhone or S8, but when we scroll through all the comments in various forums, we see everyone complaining about prices of smartphones. Samsung devices do not sell well in the biggest smartphone market in the world, their high-end devices are too expensive and their cheap devices are no good.

Apple has no competition, if you want iOs, you must buy from Apple.  So collectively, we can all start to check out various devices because in 2017 the sheer amount of smartphone options ready to jump in your pocket should make your head spin, and that’s a great thing for us consumers.

If you guys have any questions about any phones, give us a shout, jump in our group “The Mobile Forum” (click here) and join our daily smartphone conversations. Check out the devices below and click the link to see their respective specs. We have a poll at the bottom, let us know which device would you be willing to try out?


Oneplus 3t

Oneplus 3T Trinidad


Huawei Mate 9

Huawei Mate 9 Trinidad

Oppo R9s

Oppo R9S Trinidad

ZTE Axon 7

ZTE Axon 7 Trinidad





Which Device Would You Be Willing To Try?

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Keron Mcleish

Keron McLeish is the owner of Droid Island and has over 10+ years of international experience working for some of the biggest brands in mobile such as Apple, Telus, and Rogers. He is located in Trinidad and Tobago and is a trusted mobile expert in the region. In his off time, he can be found shooting airballs on the basketball court or eating a bake and shark on the beach.

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