While few may still remember Bphone, the Vietnamese-made smartphone released in 2015, the tech company behind the self-proclaimed “world’s best smartphone” is planning a comeback for its flagship device through a leading mobile retailer.
Internet security firm Bkav, known for the eponymous antivirus software, unveiled the Bphone on May 25, 2015, with CEO Nguyen Tu Quang proudly telling a 2,000-attendee event in Hanoi that they had succeeded in making the best smartphone in the world.
Local consumers and tech insiders have received the Bphone with a grain of salt, with the Bkav CEO infamously knowing as “Boastful Quang” for his tendency to overestimate the company’s products and services.
While Bkav claimed to receive nearly 12,000 orders on the first day of sale for the Bphone, the sales have never been verified and it appears that the device has since been used by no one but some tech reviewers.
The first-generation Bphone
The gadget was initially only available for order through the Bphone website, but later was put on shelves at several mobile phone stores. But Bkav has never publicized its Bphone sales.
After two years of silence, Quang, who founded Bkav in Hanoi in 2001, started to speak up about his so-called ‘brainchild,’ signaling the release of the second version of the Bphone in the near future.
Quang also took local tech watchers by surprise after having a meeting with top executives of The Gioi Di Dong (Mobile World) earlier this week, triggering speculation that the new Bphone will be on shelves at one of Vietnam’s largest mobile phone chains.
The meeting in Ho Chi Minh City was made known to the public by Doan Van Hieu Em, director of mobile phones with The Gioi Di Dong, who posted photos of the event on his Facebook on Tuesday.
“I first knew him as ‘Boastful Quang’ after the launch of the Bphone in 2015, but only after meeting him in person was I able to fully understand his passion, his restless creativity as well as his great love for the country,” Em said in his post.
“This is why he is ready to launch the second-generation Bphone in early August; if this is a quality, 100 percent made-in-Vietnam product, I don’t see any reason why [The Gioi Di Dong] will not sell this.”
A screenshot of Em's Facebook post
According to local tech website ICTnews, The Gioi Di Dong CEO Tran Kinh Doanh, and the company’s deputy director of mobile phones Tran Van Hoang, also joined Em in the meeting with Quang.
Quang was accompanied by an assistant, who was seen talking with what is believed to be the next-gen Bphone in his hand, according to the photos on Em’s Facebook.
The Bkav-The Gioi Di Dong meetup came shortly after a video surfaced on YouTube on July 2, seeming to be a commercial for the new Bphone. The model in the video was seen holding a black handset with an apparent Bphone logo on its back.
Online newspaper VnExpress quoted an internal source from Bkav as confirming that the Bphone 2 was used in the video in question, revealing that the company would take the wraps off the new device next month.
The first-gen Bphone was priced at VND11 million (US$485) for the 16GB model, and VND14 million ($617) for the 64GB version. There was also a 128GB edition coated with 24k gold, selling at VND22.2 million ($978).
The second generation Bphone will reportedly fetch below VND10 million ($441).