• Back to basics

    Back to basics

    Feature phones are making a comeback in Africa, with their market share rising to 61% in 2017 from just 55.4% in 2016. Smartphones fell to 39% from 44.6%. While feature phones do have some internet access, unlike smartphones, they lack a range of apps and accessibility.

    As reported by Quartz Africa, the revival of feature phone popularity is partly attributed to ‘an expansion of mobile phone markets in large countries like Ethiopia and the DRC, where mobile phone penetration is still low compared with countries like South Africa and Nigeria, where more users are upgrading to smartphones’. As new users enter the market, they are more likely to start off with feature phones, which are generally cheaper.

    The recovery of feature phone growth in Africa has largely been dominated by Chinese company Transsion, maker of the Itel and Tecno brands. Since its launch 11 years ago, the company has sold more than 80 million handsets per annum, the majority of which were feature phones. It is present mostly in East and West Africa, with plans to expand into North Africa – Egypt, in particular, where it has set a sales target of 17 million.

    20 February 2018
    Image: Alamy