Are Samsung, OnePlus, and Xiaomi trying to escape Apple's shadow?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Are Samsung, OnePlus, and Xiaomi literally trying to escape Apple's shadow?
That’s it! Android is (almost) officially giving up on directly competing with Apple. According to the latest leaks and rumors from reliable sources like Jon Prosser and Max Jambor, we are expecting the following Android flagship releases:

  • Xiaomi 12, 12 Pro, 12 Ultra - expected launch date: December 2021 (Xiaomi 12), early spring (Xiaomi 12 & 12 Ultra)
  • Galaxy S22 - expected launch date: February 8
  • OnePlus 10, OnePlus 10 Pro - expected launch date: January-February (China), March-April (Global)

As you can see, Android’s top iPhone competitors have one thing in common - they are all expected to arrive in Q1 of 2022 (save for the Mi 12, expected in December). While the fact that Xiaomi, Samsung, and OnePlus flagships are launching in Q1 isn’t historically surprising, there are two updates to the Android flagship release schedule which scream “retreat”:

With the OnePlus T and Galaxy Note now gone, it’s pretty much Google’s reborn Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 flagships that are left to directly “compete” with Apple’s mighty iPhone in the fall. This pretty much means that Apple gets the entire fall season all for itself now, and I don’t expect this to bring any benefits to anyone - well, except to Apple.

Moreover, despite having bought the Pixel 6 Pro for me to use, I still can’t take Google’s flagship attempt seriously, let alone think it could be Android’s superhero that will outshine the iPhone. The Pixel 6 Pro has a killer camera setup, standout design, OK battery life, and a bunch of unique features.

Sure, it has a ton of bugs in its early software days, but this isn’t even the biggest problem. The phone is available in just nine countries, while Apple’s iPhone is sold in over 70 counties. It’s not even a fair comparison unless you focus only on the US and parts of Europe.

Why do Samsung, OnePlus, and Xiaomi avoid competition with Apple’s iPhone?

It’s understandable why Android manufacturers might want to avoid competing with the iPhone. Apple’s been dominating flagship smartphone sales in the past five years - at least. Just take a look at the best-selling smartphones of Q1 2021 by volume:

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  1. Apple iPhone 12 (5%)
  2. Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max (4%)
  3. Apple iPhone 12 Pro (3%)
  4. Apple iPhone 11 (2%)
  5. Xiaomi Redmi 9A (2%)
  6. Xiaomi Redmi 9 (1%)
  7. Samsung Galaxy A12 (1%)
  8. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 (1%)
  9. Samsung Galaxy A21S (1%)
  10. Samsung Galaxy A31 (1%)

It’s not pretty. If we were to look at revenue share, things only get better for Apple since their phones are, well… more expensive, especially compared to the rest of the Android phones that have managed to make the top 10 (by volume). These are pretty much the most affordable phones that Samsung and Xiaomi make - a far cry from their Pro and Ultra flagships.

So, this alone might be enough to explain why no Android OEM wants to launch a flagship that will directly compete with the iPhone 14 series. However, Apple’s next flagship lineup is also expected to become way more competitive and aggressive.

As we know from the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini, Apple’s already offering 128GB of storage for the same price as before, but we’re also expecting a brand new iPhone 14 Max, to join the 2022 lineup replacing the mini iPhone. This one’s rumored to boast a screen as big as the expensive iPhone 14 Pro Max and even a third camera - which is unusual for a non-Pro iPhone.

Will Apple increase iPhone prices due to the lack of direct Android competition in the fall?

But whether Android phone-makers are afraid of competing with Apple’s iPhone isn’t even all that important. The truth is that they should be! To add to Apple’s potentially total dominance, it doesn’t look like Huawei is coming back anytime soon to save Android - something which was well on the way to happen before the trade ban.

Ultimately, the fact that Apple will have so much room to play with, unbothered by basically anyone other than Google, could result in less pressure for Tim Cook and company. You don’t have to be a genius to guess that this might tempt Apple to increase iPhone prices. Another indication that we might get at least one more expensive iPhone is the fact that the $699 mini iPhone is going. It won’t be a shocker if the new iPhone 14 Max starts at $899, putting it between the regular iPhone 14 and iPhone14 Pro price-wise.

Another potential loss (mostly) for iPhone users will be that Apple might find itself in such a comfortable position that it might slow down innovation even further. If the iPhone 15 Pro was meant to get a periscope zoom camera, but no other truly competitive Android flagship would be launching in the fall, why not keep this new feature for the iPhone 16 Pro?

In the end: There’s a silver lining for Android, and it’s a great one

On the bright side, we now have all major Android flagships launching in the space of a few months. So if we ignore Apple and Google, this is actually great news for those shopping for a new Android flagship! You won’t have to bang your head against the wall, thinking whether you should wait another six months for Samsung’s new phone to see how it compares to the new OnePlus or Xiaomi!

If you ask me, I’d launch all major flagships on the same day, so everyone’s choice will be even less dependent on any weird timeframes. However, as of now, this is as close as we’ve gotten, and we should be happy! Go ahead and tell us which 2022 flagship are you most excited to see!

P.s. Do you think Google will eventually move the Pixel launch to the winter/spring?

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