Some years ago, I actually used a Gtel X6 pro for a about a month. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the device, but I understood what it was meant to achieve. True Gtel sold this as a big-time flagship smartphone, but I knew it was best treated as a lower mid-range device for the time, not necessarily best-in-class but sufficient for what a lot people in Zim. In fact, that kind of became my overall picture of Gtel and its product offerings: good enough for their market even if I didn’t always agree with their pricing. However, for the latter part of 2019, and all of 2020, the company and products completely slipped from my mind, and only after seeing their current flagship, the Infinity 8s did I get exactly why that is.
To better illustrate why I find Gtel forgettable, let’s look at the Infinity 8s for a second. This is a 2020 phone with 3GB of RAM, 32/64GB of storage, a low-end Mediatek Helio A20 chip. It does come with a triple camera array, but as many people should learn, multiple cameras don’t matter if they’re poor-quality cameras. In the Infinity 8s’ case that would be a seemingly standard 13 Megapixel(MP) main lense , with unfortunately 2 extra 2MP lenses that serve as a Macro and portrait sensor. And while megapixel counts aren’t the best way to determine a camera’s performance, 2MP is terrible no matter how you look at it. In fact, just think of pre 2010 Nokia phones and how some of them had 3MP cameras and you can see why this camera setup is more a trap than anything else. The most redeeming quality of this device is the 4000mAH battery, which is robust even in actual flagships, but arguably better here due to the less powerful processor and screen as well, hence at the very least the battery’s a win. I could talk about other shortfalls the phone has, but that would seem like I’m picking on it and that’s not the point here. After all what you have is essentially an upper low-end device from this year, similar to some POCO , Xiaomi or other Chinese devices you can find in it’s price-range. And unlike a lot of Gtel devices from previous years, that were overpriced a lot of the time, here you have Gtel pulling of what’s probably their best price point of the last few years of USD $190. Meaning for the first time in a while, they’re actually pricing their devices closer to the low-end where they belong.
Hence despite not being and impressive device, the Infinity 8s is appropriately priced, or at least by Gtel standards it is. So again, why is Gtel seemingly forgettable to me, and seemingly by extension, a lot of other Zimbabweans as well? Well for starters, they’re not the only players in the game anymore. For at least the past 2 years TECHNO and iTel have broken into Zimbabwe’s market and offered devices that essentially offer the same or more than even Gtel’s best devices do. For example, comparing the Infinity 8s to TECHNO’s Spark 5 and you have 2 phones with comparable specs (same camera setup, similar storage options, processors) and trade punches on everything else (the Gtel has more RAM, the Tecno has a bigger battery) but the Tecno costs from $30-$90 than the Gtel, meaning anyone looking for a new phone and reading what both phones offer, would likely opt for the Tecno instead. And that’s just the start of it. iTel has been offering multiple devices that go under the $100 mark, and while those devices might not exactly be great, they tend to do the job for the most users, and in are country like ours, again that tends to be more than enough. Gtel does seemingly have a few devices that can at the very least compete at similar price ranges, but it seems no one really knows this, as maybe before they bet on customers figuring these devices out in Gtel stores. But in a pandemic where everyone is stuck at home and all you market is your pseudo-flagship then chances are your lowest end phones won’t get noticed or bought.
Which all leaves us at the question of what Gtel can do to actually gain people’s eyeballs and affection again. And well, it can be at least a few things. For starters, marketing. If people aren’t paying attention to Gtel devices it’s partially because they probably haven’t seen them. The occasional Instagram ad isn’t bad, but Gtel obviously needs to know who it’s targeting and send as many ads to them as possible, along with more importantly, the right ads as well. For example, if civil servants are picking up iTels for their crazy cheap prices, Gtel needs to get a phone of a similar price point in their faces and sell that instead. And get creative with your marketing too Gtel, use influencers on Twitter or Facebook even. It’s a small sacrifice that could go a long way. There are other ways we could aim for improvement, but they don’t seem as important right now when marketing would do, though I do think a more Zim friendly Android skin with some pre-loaded with some local apps could gain them some love amongst startups. Regardless, Gtel needs to get to fixing it’s marketing and pricing issues if it wants customers to take notice again, otherwise the company might be in a bit of a pickle. We’ll see how it all goes as time continues. But we sincerely hope Gtel does find a way to bounce back soon, even if only so that Astro Mobile can take notes and get their act together too.