The Vodafone Smart 4 has just landed at Vodafone UK, and its our best ever smartphone. But how do you make a high end phone at a wallet friendly price?
Peruse the shelves of any Vodafone store and you’ll find the big name manufacturers rubbing shoulders with our own Vodafone devices. The brand new Vodafone Smart 4 has just joined them, bundling high end spec with low end prices, so we think we’re making huge strides in the right direction. But how do these phones come to be?
We’ve been speaking to Vodafone’s Tim Newell to find out exactly that. So how do you take a Vodafone phone from concept to reality? Read on for the full story…
“We have a view of what the market’s doing over 12 months out,” Tim says, “so when we start designing our Vodafone Smart phones we’re aware of what’s going to be out at the point of launch. We build our VBDs with these trends in mind. We’re planning for 2015 now. In fact we’re coming to the end of that planning.”
Each Vodafone device is the result of a lengthy development process taking in market research, design, prototyping, tweaking, testing and mass manufacturing, so we’ve asked Tim to run us through every step:
“We look at different trends, and we speak to customers and we get a feel for what they have and what they want.”
1. Research and scoping
“First off, we look at past products and learn from them. We look at different trends in the market, and then we speak to customers and we get a feel for what they have and what they want. We then speak to our global team, and spend time with our part suppliers across the world to understand what’s happening in chipset, screen and antenna technologies, and to get a good idea of where the market’s going in that sense.
“Software is becoming as important as the hardware, and we want to give people the best experience on their handsets, so providing the latest software version is important. At the minute we only work with Android but if we feel there is an opportunity to give a better experience on another platform, we will look at that too.
“We have a real effort to give the best possible Android experience, so we work with manufacturers and Google to ensure that what we’re doing is as close to the latest as possible at the point of sale.
“We bring all that info together, and then we work with Vodafone teams from around the world to review what we want to offer in our next line-up of Vodafone devices. We’ll decide on our specs, prices and components that we want to use on paper, then feed all that into our designers.”
“We’ll design what we believe people will be ready for, and that will stand out…”
“The design team work well in advance, looking at different material trends, screen sizes and other elements that they can use so that we can really be innovative. We’ll design what we believe people will be ready for and will stand out against the mainstream devices.
“What we’ve learned as our Vodafone family has grown, is the importance of keeping that ‘family’ design, and replicating elements of it across the different price tiers. That helps us send one consistent message, but with different price points depending on what people need.”
3. The prototype stage
“So we go through the design phase, and then we work with our manufacturing partners to build the phones. The current companies we’re working with are both Asian companies, but we regularly review who we partner with to ensure we’re bringing only the best possible device to market.”
“We’ll go through a four month period of working on the final design and specs. Chipset technology changes really quickly, for instance, so while we may have agreed on one specific setup, some new breakthrough might have happened that allows us to step up performance. We’ll also work with focus groups to make sure that what they’re seeing is impressive and has the ‘wow’ factor in terms of design. If it doesn’t, we’ll go back to the design phase again.
“Generally we lock all that down many months in advance of the device going on sale, and then we’ll start the ramp up for getting things ready for mass manufacturing, and getting everything through technical approvals.”
“What we want to be able to say to people is that you don’t have to spend an incredible amount of money to get a really well built smartphone. Every phone we sell goes through the highest quality tests to be allowed to be on sale, so the fact that we range our own in our shop shows that these are top quality smartphones.”
The end result
At the end of all that, something like the new Vodafone Smart 4 lands on our shelves and on vodafone.co.uk. It’s a long road, but it’s all to make sure that everything is as good as it could be, at the cheapest price we can possibly make it.
“We do a lot of work to figure out what customers, at what price points, want from their devices,” Tim says in closing. “The beauty of Vodafone devices is that we can shape our own future, and that we’re making phones based on what we know our customers want.”
The newest members of the family… For all the info you need on the brand new Vodafone Smart 4, click here.