It’s been a good year for the smartphone. Well, at least feature-wise. This is because we have seen more and more device makers shamelessly parade Kshs 100,000 or more smartphones which are not as popular with consumers as other reasonably priced devices.
At the same time, we have been treated to solid budget smartphones. Xiaomi’s Mi A2, at the moment, for instance, remains a steal for Kshs 28,000 for the 128GB variant. Another Xiaomi-affiliated device, the Pocophone F1, is hands down the most bang for buck device we have seen this year. OnePlus’ 6 and 6T, from a company that many Kenyans may not be familiar with but whose sister brand Oppo they already know, continues to show the way in a sea that is not lacking as far as options go. There are easy to recommend devices at every price point.
While that is so, the markets, apparently, think otherwise. In Africa, for instance, the smartphone had a tough third quarter of the year. Well, compared to a similar period last year.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), smartphone shipments on the continent contracted by 1.3% to stand at 52.6 million units. The development also saw Samsung, the continent’s long-time market leader since it edged out Nokia back in the day, steal the top spot from Chinese company Transsion Holdings, the parent company of popular phone brands Tecno, Infinix and itel.
Transsion’s 21% market share fell short of Samsung’s impressive 37.2%. In that period, another Chinese device maker, Huawei, managed to ship just enough smartphones to close the continent’s top 3 smartphone vendors with 13% market share. Of course, it is worth noting that Africa’s top 3 smartphone vendors are all Android device makers.
Still, compared to the feature phone, the smartphone fared much better last quarter. According to the same IDC report, feature phone shipments across the continent fell by 2.7%, twice the decline in smartphone shipments over the same period.
It is in the feature phone segment where we get to see a familiar brand, Nokia, which, thanks to affordable mobile phones like the Nokia 105, still accounts for almost 12% of the entire feature phone market. However, it is the juggernaut that is the Chinese mobile phone brands under the Transsion umbrella (Tecno, Infinix and itel) that dominates the continent’s feature phone market with a combined unit share of a whopping 58.2%.
Locally, shipments of smartphones and feature phones combined rose by 7.9%.
IDC forecasts that this quarter (Q4), 6 million more mobile phones will be sold across Africa, driven more by the affordable entry-level smartphones making their way to continent’s shores from China and “spurred by the festive season and online consumer events such as Black Friday“.
“While feature phones remain steadfastly popular across Africa, particularly in more rural areas, consumers are increasingly being attracted by smartphone offerings from Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Huawei, which are actively targeting feature-oriented customers at more economical price points.”
“The introduction of more affordable smartphones in the African market will help drive progress in this space over the coming quarters, while the share of feature phones will decline steadily as the transition to smartphones gathers momentum,” concludes the report.