For many in Vietnam, the key to a good phone remains efficiency. Whether strolling downtown in the Bui Vien tourist district or the expat venue "Saigon Outcast" — nearly every phone in sight can feel like a blast from the past.
In Hanoi and Saigon, life — like the ever-flowing traffic of motobikes — never stops. But when wet season comes, drivers often have mere seconds to escape the sudden torrent of ping-pong rain one can at best describe as "moody." It's not hard to understand why many in Vietnam prefer a cheaper 2G phone — since flash-flood scenarios will turn a pricey 4G phone into an overengineered paperweight.
However, this might change forever in 2021.
World leader in 5G research Qualcomm has partnered with Vingroup to launch a 4G-capable smartphone in Vietnam — called VSmart Bee Lite — in a bid to popularize smartphones in the South-East Asian nation, according to a press release shared with Interesting Engineering via email.
And the new smartphone will sell for $26 (600,000 VND) per unit, starting Oct. 15, 2021.
Qualcomm partners up to bring 4G smartphones to Vietnam
Qualcomm, in cooperation with VinSmart Research and Production Joint Stock Company (Vingroup), jointly launched a 4G smartphone, to popularize 4G-enabled mobile solutions in Vietnam.
The smartphone — VSmart Bee Lite — was designed via the combining of complementary expertise between Qualcomm and VinSmart. Subsidized via "parties," Viettel Telecom will distribute the new smartphone, which goes for an unbelievably low price of roughly $26 (600,000 VND) per unit.
Predictably, this reportedly high-speed 4G smartphone is the best price on the market in Vietnam — which makes it the optimal choice for first-time buyers to try out the smartphone world, along with all of the apps and gadgets with which U.S. smartphone users are irreversibly familiar.
VSmart Bee Light will sell for $26, with Android Go OS
VSmart Bee Lite comes in two colors — black and gray — and has a 5.45-inch (13.84-cm) screen, in addition to a 2-megapixel front camera, and a 5-megapixel rear camera. The new smartphone also comes with 1GB of RAM, a 2550-mAh battery, 16GB memory and can support one external memory card.
While the price is only $26 (600,000 VND), the Vsmart Bee Light uses Qualcomm Snapdragon 215 and Android Go OS — to offer smooth and seamless application processing, according to the press release.
Warranty policies for the smartphone apply for up to 18 months, and also support a "1 for 1" upgrade or switch for 101 days — prioritizing users of 2G or 3G smartphones.
Qualcomm at cutting-edge of 5G data range
Two months ago, Qualcomm made serious waves when it shattered the long-distance record for 5G calls — completing a call over a range of 2.36 miles (3.79 km) — doubling its earlier record achieved via a new antennae system in 2016.
Call range has been a substantial barrier for cell phone service carriers moving into mmWave technology — which supports faster 5G speeds. With Qualcomm partnering with Vingroup to popularize 4G smartphones in Vietnam, it's clear Qualcomm has major ambitions in the next generation of smartphones.
Vingroup, Qualcomm aim to 'improve quality of life'
"Technology popularization has always been our priority. We believe every Vietnamese [person should] have a 'made in Viet Nam' smartphone at a reasonable price," said Vice President and CEO of VinSmart Le Thi Thu Thuy, in the press release shared with Interesting Engineering (IE).
"Vingroup is ready to open the door for co-operation, [and] shake hands with businesses with common aspirations. VSmart Bee Lite is the result of [great] effort and dedication of VinSmart and partners to contribute to improving the quality of [the] Vietnamese people's life," added Le Thi Thu Thuy, in the press release.
"Through our technology licensing for companies around the world, Qualcomm helps companies make breakthroughs in wireless connection technology. As a result, all different economic classes in society will have opportunities to experience mobile technology features," said Qualcomm Southeast Asia's President ST Liew in the press release. "VSmart Bee Lite is a big step forward in our relentless commitment in Viet Nam. We are very excited to join VinSmart to bring this device to consumers."
Vietnam upgrading from 2G to 4G, eventual 5G adoption
A mobile app marketing platform called Adsota claims 44.9% of mobile users in Vietnam will use smartphones before the end of 2020. But the introduction of VSmart Bee Lite could accelerate the popularity of smartphones — and effectively make 2G phones obsolete in the near future.
While 4G may soon become obsolete in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Europe, Qualcomm and Vingroup's move to popularize 4G smartphones with the VSmart Bee Lite could become a crucial step in bringing Vietnam into an age of 5G coverage — assisting an in-progress digital transformation program in the South-East Asian nation.