Cheap Devices and the African Market Powered the 2015 Global Smartphone Growth

The smartphone market is growing exponentially. Even though the hype is on feature phones from Apple, Samsung, Sony and the likes, research attributes the continued growth to frequently defamed models. Chinese brands like Huawei, Tecno, Infinix, ZTE, Xiaomi and Meizu are responsible for the steady growth.


Figures (Courtesy of Counterpoint Research)

  • 495 million: The number of mobile phones shipped globally
  • 3 out of every 4 phones shipped are smartphones
  • Feature phones demand is on the decline
  • Emerging markets like India, Indonesia, and Africa form the bulk of the demand
  • New affordable brands like Oppo, Vivo, Tecno & Infinix are making an impact in the market


Samsung is winning the Apple-Samsung war, thanks to cheap phones

Even though Samsung and Apple still reign supreme, Counterpoint Research attributed Samsung’s dominance to its wide range of cheap phones rather than its flagships. Apple, on the other hand, maintains its firm grip on the market by being a monopoly with a firm control over the elite phone users.


The Samsung Galaxy J is especially responsible for the bulk of Samsung’s shipments. Samsung shipped 84 million units during the 2015 Q3 as compared to Apple’s 48 million.

Must Read: Top Budget 4G/LTE Phones to Buy

Chinese and Indian brands are tipping the scale

As established brands jostled for feature phone supremacy, Chinese and Indian brands were busy capitalizing on the emergent African, Indian and Asian markets.


These brands have embarked on aggressive marketing campaigns characterized by premium-like smartphones featuring slim metallic finishes, large screen sizes, commendable hardware and support for the latest Android OS versions.

Read: Top Infinix Smarthones and Prices – What to Buy

The greatest selling point for these new market entrants lies in the ability to pack a couple of premium features, for instance LTE/4G networks and Latest Android versions, into phablets that are under the $120 retail price.


75 percent of the top 12 smartphone brands globally were economy-pack Chinese phones (more than 1/3 of the total smartphone market)

Consequently, notable Chinese brands like Huawei, ZTE and Meizu scaled the ranking ladder faster to secure better positions on the top ten lists.


On the ground survey – The Kenyan Case Study

A quick glimpse of the local market and the public will give a conclusion that is in perfect resonance with these statistics.


Over 60 percent of the smartphones on Luthuli Avenue’s shops are either the low-end Samsungs or Chinese brands. The biggest share of the phone stocks goes to Chinese and Indian thoroughbreds like Tecno, Wico, Huawei, Infinix, Xiamo and ZTE.

In 5 years, Most Africans will have smartphones - Techcrunch
In 5 years, Most Africans will have smartphones – Techcrunch

This doesn’t mean that everyone loves them

Seven out of every ten Chinese phone owners I talked to would fancy a Samsung or an iPhone if they could.  Even though there are high-roller brand phones under the Ksh 20,000 tag, Most of them would sooner own an Infinix Hot 2 than an LG or Samsung within the price range.


The fact that people in emergent markets are willing to go for any affordable and presentable devices will keep fueling the middle and low-end smartphone market.


What do you think? Will the upcoming African and Asian market see these competitively priced brands to success? What would you rather buy? A low-spec Ksh 12,000 Samsung or a beefed up Chinese model phone with the same price tag. Let us know in the comments section.

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