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Bucking the trend: How realme became the fastest-growing smartphone brand to achieve sales of 100 million handsets globally

In just three years, realme has become a technology brand synonymous with design, performance and creativity. Now, the company is daring to leap into innovation once again.

5 min read
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The past 12 months have been challenging for everyone – but one thing has kept us connected during testing times: great technology. From laptops to smartphones, people around the globe have used technology to stay connected virtually when social-distancing requirements meant we couldn't get together physically.

Amongst all technological innovators, however, one company's results shine out like a beacon: realme. Sales of the manufacturer's devices continued to grow even as analyst Gartner reported that global sales of smartphones to end users declined 5.4% towards the end of 2020.

Against this trend, market researcher Strategy Analytics says realme recorded strong performance during the economic challenges posed by COVID-19 and became the fastest-growing major smartphone brand globally in Q2 2021, with a year-over-year global growth rate of 149%. That's not all: those shipments helped realme to become the fastest-growing brand to reach the 100 million smartphone sales milestone.

So at extremely challenging times, how did realme buck the trend and continue to grow? The answer is simple: trend-setting and technological innovation. Counterpoint says realme has developed a reputation for selling premium products at attractive price points that resonate with young, fashionable people.

As smartphone sales return to growth across the market in 2021 and beyond, realme – with its focus on design, performance and creativity – will be well-placed to make further inroads into the technology marketplace.

And the innovation shows no sign of stopping. Established in August 2018, realme's latest releases highlight how the company will continue to push high-end innovation in the smartphone industry, to develop great solutions in the personal computing market, and to create the trend-setting products that consumers in the mainstream market crave.

Design: Building a strong visual aesthetic

How do you keep trendsetters happy in more than 60 markets around the globe? For realme, the answer is to focus on designing great-looking products time and again.

In its short three-year history, the company has already developed a tradition for designing stylish products that appeal to young people. From its market-leading smartphones and onto realme AIoT products, such as True Wireless Stereo (TWS), smart wearables, smart TVs and laptops, realme has established a strong design aesthetic across its product line.

One of the key elements to this success if realme's partnership with Naoto Fukasawa, the legendary contemporary Japanese industrial designer, who has also worked with global brands such as MUJI, Herman Miller and Alessi, and is now lending his creative skills to the realme product line.

The results speak for themselves: the new realme GT Master Edition boasts an ultra-thin 8mm and 179g ultra-lightweight body. Based on Fukasawa's view of "the unconscious", the innovative design of the smartphone is based on a suitcase design, with the aim of inspiring curiosity, even at a time when the pandemic makes exploration impossible.

The realme Book, meanwhile, is a lightweight, portable and efficient laptop. With a high screen-to-body ratio, the all-metallic design is created using ultra-fine ceramic sandblasting and precise diamond-cutting technology. Available in blue and grey, the laptop looks as great as it performs.

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Performance: Disrupting the smartphone market

With its high-performance devices, realme is striving to boost the accessibility of cutting-edge smartphone technologies. From 5G through to the Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT), realme is disrupting the global smartphone market, giving young consumers access to tomorrow's innovations today.

Last year, realme launched 14 5G devices, accounting for around 40% of all products. By next year, the company plans to reach 20 5G devices. The long-term aim is to enable 100 million young users to have 5G smartphones during the next three years.

The realme GT Explorer Master Edition is the latest edition to that 5G roster. Equipped with a super-fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 processor, the phone provides powerful CPU and GPU performance. The device also offers 65W SuperDart Charge, with the capacity to fully charge a device in less than an hour.

What's more, realme's leap forwards in performance isn't just confined to the smartphone sector. Powered by an Intel eleventh-generation processor and with Dual-fan cooling system, the realme Book offers the high levels of performance that are normally confined to a desktop-class computer.

Whether you're creating content or playing games, the realme Book boats an Intel Iris Xe core that provides a smooth display. Add in a 2K full vision display, stereo sound by DTS that includes 2 HARMAN speakers and up to 512GB PCIe SSD storage, and you have a laptop that's ready to perform under any circumstances.

Creativity: Built together with users

It's not unusual for brands to talk about the strong bond they have with their customers, but at realme, the bond is more than just talk – the products the company builds are directly shaped by the millions of people who use them every day.

What began in 2018 as a young smartphone brand that dared to leap in a new direction has now grown into a pioneering and globally renowned company that is pursuing technological innovation for users at home and on the move. That transformation would have been impossible without the help of realme's customers.

Today, realme has a super-tight bond with its community of 3.3 million users. Whether its offline through fan meets around the globe or online via social media channels, this ever-strengthening bond with customers helps point innovation at realme in the right direction.


Take the example of the realme Book Co-creation Programme, which provides an opportunity for realme's community of users to help develop next-generation technology that truly meets the needs of Gen Z. This global programme gives realme customers the opportunity to design products that meet their needs – and to be rewarded in the process.

Then there's the recent realme Global Youth Voice event, which brought together 50 fans from 15 countries around the world through an online video meeting. Customer shared how they believe the application of 5G will lead to innovations in IoT, cloud gaming, and shopping with augmented reality.

Whether it's in the development of smart home products, from toothbrushes to suitcases and onto earpods, or in the development of leading-edge smartphones, realme's products are designed with the needs of its customers at the centre of the development process.

Conclusion: Leap into the future

With a focus on design, performance and creativity, it's easy to see why realme is bucking the trend and leading technological innovation in mobile technology. The leap forward that the company has made in just three years means consumers can benefit from high-quality, trend-setting mobile technology without having to break the bank. Now's the time to find out more.

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