South Africa’s Smartphone Shipments Surge 29% YoY in 2023 as Market Recovery Gathers Pace

  • This was the country’s highest-ever annual smartphone shipment growth rate. 
  • 5G shipments during the quarter grew 31% YoY, driven by HONOR. 
  • Samsung took the top spot in 2023, followed by HONOR and Xiaomi. 
  • In H2 2023, HONOR saw its best period and became the leading player. 

London, Beijing, Boston, Buenos Aires, Fort Collins, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Seoul – March 1, 2024 

South Africa’s smartphone shipments grew 29% YoY in 2023, according to Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service. The growth was driven by the strong shipments in H2 2023 due to fierce competition among Chinese OEMs and multiple promotions by major OEMs. The availability of device financing schemes from operators and channel partners also enhanced smartphone accessibility and adoption. 

 Commenting on the market dynamics, Senior Research Analyst Yang Wang said, “Despite facing multiple macroeconomic challenges, South Africa’s smartphone market continues to grow, driven by popular demand, widening availability of digital services, and the increased presence of Chinese OEMs.” 

For Q4 2023, South Africa’s smartphone shipments soared 91% YoY with the major driver being HONOR. It was also the fastest-growing brand during the quarter and secured the leading position with a 24% share of the market. The HONOR Magic 4 Lite 5G and HONOR X6 models were its volume drivers. Other Chinese OEMs, including Xiaomi, TECNO and, also aggressively expanded in the market, with their shipments increasing by 86%, 80%, and 93% respectively. 

In line with global trends, consumer preference in the country is shifting towards premium (>$800) smartphones. The segment saw an increase of 57% YoY, driven mainly by Apple which grew 83% during the year. The $150-$249 price band grew 26% YoY, as lower-end consumers (sub-$100) are upgrading their devices due to the higher value proposition offered by mid-range smartphones.  

In terms of network technology, although LTE still dominates, 5G is fast catching up. 5G smartphone shipments grew 31% YoY, as 5G device prices continued to decline. The expected growth in 5G coverage in the next few years, particularly in city centers, will further boost 5G smartphone penetration in the country.  

Brand highlight for 2023 

Samsung dropped 6% but was the leading player in 2023. Samsung’s market share has declined steadily due to fierce competition from Chinese OEMs. With Samsung’s A series driving most of its volume during the year, the brand is experimenting with device financing and trade-in schemes to help customers acquire higher-value devices at lower cost.  

HONOR grew the most in South Africa in 2023, reaching the second position in the market from almost no share a year ago. The brand’s growth was mainly driven by its increased focus on the market in the second half of the year. The Magic4 series and X series were its best performers. Further, the brand’s reputation improved greatly due to the availability of higher-end models from its flagship and foldable ranges.  

Xiaomi grew 61% driven by the Redmi 10 series and Redmi Note 11 series, which were among its major volume drivers. Xiaomi is focusing on expanding its portfolio at the higher end ($250-$399) with the recently launched models from the Redmi Note 13 series. 

Transsion Group grew 48%, mainly due to TECNO’s 64% growth in the country. TECNO’s Pova 4 Pro and Spark 8C were its biggest volume drivers. For itel, A and S series was the volume drivers, continuing to gain popularity in the low-end market. Both TECNO and itel are actively pushing online and offline promotions.  


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media, and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects, and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry. 


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