It’s the fifth largest smartphone maker in the world, but Oppo isn’t coming to the US -- it’s going after Europe. The company announced last week that it's launching in the UK, Turkey, and Poland after offering its phones in six other European countries.

Oppo disappointed US buyers last June when it announced that it will not be launching its flagship Find X on the market. The Find X made a splash with a unique pop-up camera design and an almost bezel-less screen and was noticed by plenty of American media outlets -- so why skip the US?

Oppo Find X has a unique pop-up camera. (Picture: SCMP)

It’s not clear why, but given the troubles that other Chinese smartphone makers have had securing carrier partners in a country where 90% of sales are through carriers, it’s understandable.

Instead, Oppo is following the footsteps of Huawei and Xiaomi, which have both been trying to woo European customers. Much like Oppo, the other two Chinese smartphone giants have minor footholds in the US (like Huawei's Honor).

Oppo has so far seen a fair amount of success in India, where it ranks 5th after Xiaomi and another Chinese rival, Vivo. It has also set up shop in France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands in 2018, as well as Kazakhstan and Russia.

And it has good reason to be optimistic about its next move: 2018 was a great year for Chinese brands going overseas. According to IDC, both Xiaomi and Huawei shipped around one third more smartphones globally compared to 2017. In contrast, Samsung and Apple shipped fewer units than before. Apple has had a particularly lousy year in China.

Oppo said it will bring the Find X and the R-series to European markets. However, it did not mention the Oppo A5 -- the best-selling smartphone in China during 2018 Q3, according to Counterpoint Research. The phone has won over users with a great price: Only US$200.

Oppo’s move to Europe is not just about growing their reach. Global smartphone shipments declined around 4%, but the drop in China was far steeper at over 10%, according to a new report from research firm IDC. Its rival Huawei already has an African presence while Xiaomi is also eyeing an African expansion.

“This winter, everyone is going to have a hard time.” Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun said during an annual staff meeting last month.