Feature phones still have firm foothold in Africa

HMD Global relaunched the Nokia 3310 in February.

HMD Global relaunched the Nokia 3310 in February.

Feature phones have managed to keep a firm foothold in Africa, driving the growth in total mobile handsets on the continent, while smartphone sales slow.

Naysayers predicted basic cheaper cellphones would be phased out by now as smartphone prices came down and users’ need for ‘smarter’ features grew − like access to applications and mobile Internet.

However, phone manufacturers have seen interest increase in the simpler devices of the early 2000s.

The reinvented Nokia 3310 was relaunched in February at Mobile World Congress by HMD Global, the company that owns the rights to use Nokia’s brand.

“Feature phones today still account for one in five of all mobile phones bought worldwide and the category is surprisingly larger than many think,” says Strategy Analytics director Ken Hyers.

Strategy Analytics released a report saying total global feature phone shipments reached 396 million units last year, 21% of the 1.88 billion mobile phones shipped globally.

In Africa, the smartphone market totalled 95.37 million units in 2016, according to research firm International Data Corporation (IDC). The company said while this was 3.4% year-on-year growth, it represents a considerable deceleration from the double-digit growth rates seen in the previous two years

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