It’s been quite a while since Samsung announced a new device in its budget Galaxy J smartphone series. Locally, the only movement we have seen in that regard was when the company quietly announced the Android Go-powered successor to last year’s Galaxy J2 Core, the Samsung Galaxy J4 Core. Like its predecessor, it was a 2018 smartphone as well.
Turns out, that is by design.
The company has since announced that it is shunning the Galaxy J series in favour of another budget smartphone series, the Galaxy A.
Now, referring to the Galaxy A series smartphones as budget may not be agreeable to many given the prices that those devices have been priced at in the past. For instance, last year, Samsung started selling the 2018 edition of the Galaxy A7 for Kshs 40,000. Half a year earlier, the company had also brought another Galaxy A device, the Galaxy A8+, for a whopping Kshs 60,000. Now, that is not exactly what comes to the minds of most Kenyans when you bring up the word budget.
Budget is relative, though. In this case, when compared to Samsung’s more premium devices, the high-end Galaxy S and Note series.
The motivation for making this move remains unknown but it is not far-fetched to say that with its Galaxy J smartphone lineup, Samsung had taken a serious beating from rivals, especially Chinese smartphone brands, in markets it once dominated unchallenged.
Transsion Holdings, the holding company for Chinese smartphone brands Tecno and Infinix, has, over the last decade, grown to challenge Samsung’s status in Africa as the smartphone market leader even temporarily knocking it off its perch in 2017 before the Korean giant bounced back the following year. With the former establishing a presence in markets where Samsung has previously dominated heavily like India and coupled with the rise and rise of Xiaomi and Oppo, equally big movers in the budget smartphone market, the writing has been on the wall for a while: Samsung should shape up or ship out.
Is this what is behind this move to fold the Galaxy J series into the Galaxy A lineup?
Besides the higher price points when compared to the Galaxy J series devices they are replacing, Galaxy A devices have been known over the years for their sleek look and feel as well as good cameras.
While the Galaxy J has predominantly featured forgettable plastic looks, it is the Galaxy A where Samsung has always brought its mid-range A-game. With its recent Galaxy A devices, it is now angling to be known for features like long endurance (better battery life) and fast charging for the batteries while also getting users acquainted with its own take of the tear drop notch.
About 2 weeks ago, Samsung officially started selling the Galaxy A30 and A50 smartphones in Kenya for Kshs 22,500 and Kshs 30,500 respectively. As you can see, those are not exactly the kind of prices those who would otherwise have gone with Galaxy J series smartphones are likely to be considering, leaving room for the company’s rivals to run the show.
Samsung is expected to avail even more Galaxy A smartphones in Kenya starting this month.
This is not the first time that Samsung is folding a Galaxy lineup.
We have previously seen the low-end Galaxy Y and Galaxy Ace disappear only for their fans to be consoled by the Galaxy J which did a good job balancing features and price even though the competition was by then already undercutting them and Samsung was solely relying on its big brand name and reputation. The Galaxy E and X series (remember them?) have also since made a disappearing act.
The company also has another brand new smartphone series, the Galaxy M. With their sub-Kshs 20,000 pricing, these appear to be more well-suited to be absolute successors to the Galaxy J series but, as things stand, they are only limited to the Indian market.