2018 is shaping up to be one of the more exciting years for smartphones in a while, with breakthrough technologies and all-new designs hitting the market. No, we’re not talking about the iPhone notch, but this month’s major smartphone releases from BBK Electronics subsidiaries: the OnePlus 6, Oppo Find X, and Vivo Nex.

BBK Electronics is the umbrella company that owns Chinese smartphone brands OnePlus, Oppo, and Vivo. The multinational corporation also owns a number of other brands in the consumer electronics space, encompassing products ranging from headphones to Blu-ray players.

Previous releases from these three brands haven’t been known for lighting up the smartphone market. We’ve seen more than our fair share of imitations from them over the years, but 2018 looks very different.

BBK-owned brands are breaking ground with a number of industry firsts — a move that we’d have historically talked about in the context of a Galaxy or iPhone release. Could BBK be about to shake up the smartphone market?

Three top-notch releases

Between the cost-effective new OnePlus 6, unique flagship-caliber Oppo Find X, and the concept-heavy Vivo Nex, BBK has hit a wide range of releases within the space of just one month. The three phones cover a major chunk of potential consumers and have garnered plenty of attention from the media and enthusiasts alike.

The OnePlus 6 isn’t the cheapest or most unique looking model from the brand so far, but it offers bang-for-buck that’s hard to find anywhere else. This year’s OnePlus is certainly the most refined handset in the series so far, matching the build quality of its more expensive rivals, as well with the bulk of the hardware specifications.

The Vivo Nex, based on Vivo’s Apex concept phone from MWC 2018, is a more interesting handset in terms of features. The handset marks a number of company and industry firsts, including an improved under-display fingerprint scanner and a pop-out selfie camera, achieving a truly bezel-less look. The lack of speakers is also very unique; the phone instead relies on transducers to vibrate the screen to create sound. Much of the phone seems bizarre, but it’s fun and more importantly, it works.

The OnePlus 6 is a phone for the tech-savvy, the Nex for the forward-looking, and the Find X boasts all the bells and whistles.

The Oppo Fine X rounds off the recent announcements as the company’s first truly flagship experience for a number of years. There are cutting-edge processing and memory specifications, a Samsung-esque curved display, an improved dual-camera configuration, fast charging, and 3D facial recognition capabilities. There’s also a similar slide-up camera idea to the Nex, which tucks away the camera when you’re not using it so that you’re left with pretty much nothing but screen.

Oppo hasn’t been one to shy away from experimentation in the past either. The Oppo N3’s motorized front/back camera was novel, as was the O-Touch panel found on the back of the N1. But the Find X is the company’s most refined smartphone in quite a while.

A challenge for the big brands?

BBK’s phone brands aren’t household names in the U.S. (OnePlus is probably the closest). But BBK brands are big business across the rest of the world. In China, Oppo and Vivo are third behind Huawei, and the same brands have been making strides in growing markets like India.

Combined, BBK’s brands make it one of the largest manufacturers, so it’s already challenging the top dogs for market share. However, the company has previously been fighting it out for the mid and budget ends of the market. It’s only these new releases that suggest BBK has what it takes to really compete with Samsung’s Galaxy range or Apple’s iPhone.

Are the BBK brands more innovative than Samsung and Apple right now?

Rival Huawei has built up its brand with a selection of high-quality releases over the past couple of years, and these latest phones present a similar rallying cry from BBK.

Of course, BBK is going to need more than a few flashy releases to recapture its home market of China and expand its influence across the globe, but this is a solid start. There’s no denying that BBK has had an impressive month, but maintaining the momentum throughout the year and beyond will be the real test.

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