Balmuda takes on Apple in Japan with smartphone launch

High-end Japanese toaster maker Balmuda Inc unveiled a stripped back smartphone on Tuesday, aiming for a toe-hold in a market dominated by Apple’s iPhone.

Chief Executive Gen Terao said at the launch event that the 5G enabled Android device is expected to contribute 3 billion yen ($26 million) to Balmuda’s sales in the current financial year.

The “Balmuda Phone” costs 104,800 yen ($920) and has a small 4.9 inch screen and a curved back.

It is built by industrial ceramics firm Kyocera Corp and offered by wireless carrier SoftBank Corp, which first brought the iPhone to Japan.

The device has a custom designed home screen with Balmuda’s version of basic apps like the calendar and clock and fits in the hand, Terao said.

Balmuda, which listed last December, has carved out a niche selling minimalist household appliances at premium prices such as “The Toaster”, priced $225, and a $520 coffee machine named “The Brew”.

Its smartphone will face stiff competition from Apple, which notched up iPhone sales in Japan of $28.5 billion in the year to September. The 5.4 inch iPhone 13 mini is almost 20% cheaper in Japan than the “Balmuda Phone”.


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