Chinese smartphone maker Vivo has rolled out today a premium smartphone brand iQOO, marking another effort for Chinese phone makers to shake off their budget image.

A newly built Weibo account dubbed “iQOO mobile phone” greets the public today with its first-ever microblog that reads, “Hello, this is iQOO.” The registration details of the account show it shares the same owner of Vivo, which later reposted the blog with a comment saying “Welcome new friends in the new year.”

Little details other than the name were disclosed as of present. However, a poster that comes in the microblog suggests that the new brand will feature futuristic and technologically advanced devices.

Local media pointed out that this new brand would target at flagship models costing more than RMB5,000 ($737), aiming at the higher range of the smartphone market. Vivo’s entry to the premium market represents a trend among Chinese phone makers to challenge a segment that’s traditionally dominated by their foreign counterparts like Apple and Samsung.

In line with the trend, an interesting shift is taking place in China where having a Huawei phone may underline a higher social status than holding an iPhone.

At present, Vivo’s latest NEX Series represents the higher-range of the company’s models. NEX series is priced at RMB4,998 for the premium edition. Company Vice President Hu Baishan disclosed Vivo NEX series has shipped over 2 million sets in the second half of 2018.

It’s a common practice for Chinese smartphone manufacturers to adopt a sub-brands strategy in a bid to target at different customers bases in various markets. For example, Huawei established the Honor sub-brand to grab the online channel. Xiaomi introduced Redmi to focus on budget phones. Redmi Note 7, the first smartphone the company launched as an independent brand, shipped over 1 million units after its launch on Jan. 15, the company announced today. Similarly, the Realme brand was born out of Oppo last year.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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