The Bphone 2017, the next generation of the Vietnamese-made smartphone developed by Hanoi-based Bkav, is finally being released this month in its creator’s bid to turn the tide after the notorious failure of the phone’s maiden model in 2015.
The new model is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chip, 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage, and a 16MP rear camera, according to information released at the launch ceremony in Hanoi on Tuesday.
“This is what cool looks like” – the phone’s marketing slogan – repeatedly echoed through the room as Bkav CEO Nguyen Tu Quang addressed the crowd at Tuesday’s event.
Dropping similar lines, including “the world’s best smartphone,” and bellowing “unbelievable” several times while briefing a crowd of 2,000 on the gadget’s specs and features in 2015 earned Quang the nickname ‘Boastful Quang.’
Quang said the latest Bphone’s retail price of VND9.78 million (US$430) is meant to target “near high-end users.”
The phone will be officially available for sale online and through the The Gioi Di Dong (Mobile World) chain on August 19. This is a stark contrast to the 2015 release when the Bphone was only sold online and sales numbers were never disclosed.
As with the 2015 edition, Bkav claims the Bphone 2017 is a made-in-Vietnam product comprised of core technology owned by the company and all design, chip-making, and assembly aspects of the product managed by Bkav itself.
The device runs on Android, even though its user interface and experience are said to copy those of the iOS.
[Vietnam’s Bkav unveils next-gen homemade Bphone]
A Bphone 2017 is seen in this photo on Bkav website.
Besides the ‘conventional’ Bphone 2017, Quang also revealed a special edition, the Bphone 2017 Gold – an upgraded version of the phone boasting a Snapdragon 835 chip, 4GB of RAM, and a dual-camera.
The gold-coated gadget was not on display at Tuesday’s event, with the CEO claiming the special edition is intended for foreign markets.
Later on the same day, Bkav deputy chairman Vu Thanh Thang told reporters that “several partners have suggested Bkav develop a smartphone exclusively for Dubai,” implying that the high-end Bphone 2017 Gold, comparable to the iPhone 7S and Galaxy S8, might be released in that city.
“In the future, if Bphone 2017 succeeds in winning over local consumers, Bkav will release it into the global market,” he added.
With the new Bphone shelved at The Gioi Di Dong, one of Vietnam’s leading mobile retailers, Bkav holds high hope that the next-gen handset will reap sweeter fruit than its predecessor.
While Bkav claimed to have received nearly 12,000 orders on the first day of sale for the Bphone 2015, the sales were never verified and none of the devices seem to have ever been used.
Many local tech watchers and consumers still accept the launch of the Bphone 2017 with heavy skepticism, particularly because of the high price. With VND10 million to spare, consumers can easily choose more popular devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy A7 2017 or HTC U Play.
Quang founded Bkav in 2001 as an antivirus vendor before expanding into the hardware sector.
He earned the notorious ‘Boastful Quang’ nickname for his tendency to overestimate the company’s products and services.