Canalys warned leading smartphone vendors face challenges in marketing high-end, AI-powered models in Latin America after low-to-mid-tier models including Samsung’s Galaxy A-series, Xiaomi’s Redmi range and Lenovo-owned Motorola’s G models powered shipment growth in Q1.

The research company stated lower-tier models contributed heavily to a 26 per cent year-on-year rise in shipments to 34.9 million units, with leading players Samsung, Motorola, Xiaomi, Transsion and Honor all growing market share to cement their top-five positions.

But senior consultant Miguel Perez noted the popularity of models priced at under $800 “poses a unique challenge” for vendors when it comes to marketing higher-end models based on their AI capabilities, because of the time taken for such technologies to filter downstream.

Perez said 82 per cent of devices shipped were priced at less than $400, with the $800 and above bracket accounting for just 7 per cent.

The expert noted there is a risk consumers could become disillusioned if vendors do not carefully manage the “high expectations” set by marketing “cutting-edge AI features”.

Latin America is a “price-sensitive market”, Perez said, though noted growth was aided by improving economic and channel inventory conditions, along with a “refresh cycle for devices purchased” during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Perez noted wearable bands, wireless stereo equipment and tablets were proving effective points of differentiation for device makers.

The focus on alternative devices “presents a significant, mostly untapped opportunity” in the region where “the adoption rate of these devices per smartphone sold is still low compared to global averages”.