South Africa Local Smartphone Brands Grew 33% YoY in 2018

The top five smartphone brands captured nearly 80% of the South African market during the year.

Mobicel was the fastest growing smartphone brand in South Africa during 2018.

Affordability is the key driver of growth in the market.

New Delhi, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Beijing, San Diego, Buenos Aires –

Mar 22th, 2019

South Africa smartphone shipments increased by 7% YoY in 2018, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor Service. The increasing affordability of the smartphones and cheaper 4G mobile data plans by telecom operators were the key reasons behind the growth.

Commenting on the overall market, Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research said, “Affordability has been a key reason for rising smartphone sales in South Africa. Major smartphone brands like Samsung, Mobicel, and Huawei are offering adequate specifications and features in entry-level smartphone models. The efforts of the OEMs have been helped by the push for 4G mobile internet by telecom operators. By providing discounted bundles and tariff plans to urban as well as rural users, 4G services are now broadening their reach throughout the country.”

There are more than 40 smartphone brands who sell their products in South Africa and of these, 30 offer products for less than US$100. This price-segment generates the highest sales volumes in the country.

Local smartphone brands’ shipments grew 33% YoY in 2018 with Mobicel the leading contributor. Mobicel became the second largest smartphone brand in South Africa during 2018 as its market share rose to 16% from 6% in 2017. Its affordable yet feature-packed smartphones helped Mobicel become the fastest growing smartphone brand in South Africa, outpacing global rivals like Huawei and Hisense.

Even though Mobicel grew its market share substantially it could not overhaul Samsung. While its market share dipped marginally to 32% in 2018, Samsung’s broad portfolio, especially in the entry-level and budget segment, helped it sell almost twice as many smartphones as its nearest competitor.

Commenting on the findings, Karn Chauhan, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research said, “Mobicel’s Astro was the top-selling smartphone in South Africa during 2018 and helped the company raise its market share. The affordability and the features of the phone made it popular in the South African market. Mobicel Astro uses the Android Go Edition, a trimmed down version of Android for entry-level smartphones. In fact, three out of the top five smartphones sold in South Africa in 2018 use Android Go. Apart from Mobicel Astro, the Nokia 1 and Samsung Galaxy J2 Core are the other two entry-level smartphones in the top five using Android Go.”

South Africa Smartphone Market Share –2018

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor

Here are some key takeaways about the South African Smartphone Market:

  • In terms of smartphone operating systems, Android dominates with a market share of 92% followed by Apple iOS’ with a market share of 7% in 2018.
  • The top five smartphone brands capture almost 80% of the total market.
  • Mobicel was the only local brand to make it to the top five list by market share.
  • Huawei grew its market share to 15% in 2018 from 9% in 2017. Its growth was helped by the launch of smartphones across all price points. Huawei P20 Lite, Y5 Prime (2018) and Y7 (2018) were the star models which drove its market share.
  • Hisense increased its market share to 10% in 2018 from 8% in 2017.
  • Competition in the entry-level segment is set to intensify as MTN is planning to launch a smart feature phone. It is targeting entry-level smartphone users as well as feature phone users looking for an affordable device with high-speed internet capabilities.


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The Market Monitor research is based on sell-in (shipments) estimates based on vendor’s IR results, vendor polling triangulated with sell-through (sales), supply chain checks and secondary research.


Analyst Contacts:

Karn Chauhan

+91 9816455600

 Tarun Pathak
+91 9971213665

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