Middle East and Africa’s Smartphone Market Clocks Second-Highest Growth Rate in Q2 2019

  • Samsung led the smartphone market and became one of the fastest-growing OEMs in the region.
  • Transsion Group continues to consistently dominate the overall handset market capturing over one-third of the shipment share
  • Apple slips out of top 5 brands in the region 

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

Sep 5, 2019

 The smartphone market in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 6% year-on-year (YoY) in Q2 2019, according to Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service. The growth rate of the smartphone market in the region is second only to India, making it an important market for OEMs. The adoption of smartphones in the region is increasing as more feature phone users transition to smartphones. The market is likely to grow above the global average in the coming years.

Samsung captured over one-fourth of the market share in the smartphone market, mainly due to the success of A and M series. After six consecutive quarters of shipments decline in the region, the OEM grew 26% YoY, making it one of the fastest-growing smartphone brand in the region. Samsung commands a strong brand power in the region, and its new devices with attractive design, aggressive specifications, and competitive pricing have fuelled its growth.

Closely following Samsung was the Transsion Group. The Shenzen-based company’s brands itel, Infinix, and Tecno captured close to 20% of the smartphone market. The brands dominate the feature phone segment with a 56% share. Overall, Transsion Group has more than one-third of the shipment share in the handset market.

Commenting on the leadership of Transsion Group in the handset segment, Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research, said, “Transsion has optimized its products to cater to the local needs, which is one of the key reasons for its success. It has collaborated with various industry players to develop technologies like cameras catering to users with dark complexion, low-cost fast-charging solutions, and AI to optimize battery usage, thus addressing local market challenges. The OEM has also developed a robust supply chain in the region catering to even the remote areas of Africa. Transsion also has a popular mobile internet ecosystem in Africa with its media platform and other OTT applications.”

Besides smartphones, close to 40% of the shipments during the quarter were feature phones. As of 2018, smartphone adoption of smartphone in the MEA region was still below 50%. In sub-Saharan Africa, smartphone adoption is only 36%. Factors like poverty, a dearth of infrastructure, literacy barrier and other socio-economic factors makes the low-cost devices suitable for a large section of users in the region. Over 60% of the smartphones sold in the region during the quarter were below US$100 price band (wholesale price).

Commenting on the affordable device Varun Mishra, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research, said, “Affordable devices remain a key to extend connectivity to users, especially in Africa. The two large telcos in Africa, MTN and Orange, both have launched their 3G smart feature phones running on KaiOS. The devices are bundled with various internet offers to increase digital ecosystem adoption in the region. However, currently on an average, these devices cost around US$25, and there is still a need to reduce the prices of these devices to fuel rapid adoption. Ideally, a smart feature phone should be priced as close to the feature phone as possible. This will provide a substantial incentive for the first-time mobile phone user to consider a smart feature phone instead of a feature phone, as well as feature phone users to upgrade to a smart feature phone. “


           Exhibit 1: MEA Smartphone Market Share                                       MEA Feature Phone Market Share

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor Q2 2019

Market Summary:

  • The top five smartphone brands captured 55% of the market, thus indicating market consolidation.
  • Huawei, on account of US trade ban, declined 12% YoY during the quarter. The declining trend will continue as the effect of ban surfaces during Q3.
  • The shipments for Apple declined 27% YoY during the quarter. iPhones are experiencing a global decline as users continue to hold on to their device. This is the first time since Q2 2015 that Apple is out of the top five OEMs in the region.
  • MEA captured over one-third of the global feature phone shipments, making it the largest market for the segment.
  • itel leads the feature phone segment in MEA, capturing over one-third of the market. The shipments for itel feature phones grew 1% YoY, bucking the declining trend of the segment.
  • With the launch of MTN Smart and Orange Sanza, the KaiOS powered feature phones, the popularity of smart feature phone segment in Africa is rising.


The comprehensive and in-depth Q2 2019 Market Monitor is available for subscribing clients. The service includes handset shipments from 140+ brands across 60+ countries quarterly.  Please feel free to contact us at press(at)counterpointresearch.com for further questions regarding our in-depth latest research, insights or press inquiries.

Analyst Contacts:

Tarun Pathak 

Varun Mishra 

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