Can smartphone sub-brands like iQOO and Poco find they’re calling with the gaming push?


We can play all the games on mobile phones, but can gaming become a brand’s core marketing plank? iQOO and POCO, the latest sub-brands of the phone companies Vivo and Xiaomi, are actively integrating gaming into their proposition.

Both of these at first started as product lines. At the time Vivo launched its first iQOO phone in February 2020, Xiaomi relaunched POCO as its sub-brand last July.

At present, there are gaming phones, and phones that can also be used for playing games. The designation of ‘gaming phones’ has for long have been reserved for players like Asus (ROG), Xiaomi (Black Shark), and Nubia Red Magic.

Apart from marketing and positioning, these mobiles are built and designed to appeal to active gamers. For example, they come with fan attachments to support them to cool down faster. After that, they have software features to provide an uninterrupted gaming experience. They also have bright flash RGB lights and trigger buttons (just like a handheld console controller).

 These ‘gaming’ phones come with a heavy price tag, with base models starting around Rs 50,000. iQOO and POCO are now strongly adapting gaming-focused features at a significantly lower price point. Interestingly, both Vivo and Xiaomi do not have dedicated gaming segments within their product collections.

The first iQOO phone, iQOO 3, which had gaming hardware characteristics like air triggers, liquid cooling, etc, sold at around Rs 35,000 at launch. Similarly, the new iQOO 7 has a dedicated e-sports mode (among the other features) and sells at Rs 30,000. Then, soon-to-be-launched iQOO Z3 has ‘budget gaming’ written all over its marketing communication.

POCO is building itself on the back of pocket-friendly performance, or performance, as the brand calls it. These brand’s soon-to-be-launched POCO F3-GT is calibrated for gaming. Apart from the hardware characteristics like physical trigger buttons and Flashy RGB lights, it is also expected to have gaming aesthetics written all over it. It is expected to launch at around Rs 30,000 price point. Its previous model POCO X3 and X3 Pro also catered to the budget gaming audience.

At present, unlike gaming laptops and PCs, which are specifically designed and built for gaming performance, most phones that have the right chipsets or storage can play games. Like to say that, all the latest iPhones can play all the games, though it is not positioned as a gaming phone. Same to that, OPPO’s Reno 5Pro 5G can play games, despite its camera-centric positioning.

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