Demand for entry level smartphones has begun to rise in Kenya as young consumers go for devices that offer large storage, high speed internet, fast processor and quality camera output at a lower cost.
The burgeoning youthful customers-currently constituting the highest population of first-time mobile users are driving this demand.
In an increasingly interconnected world, their is heavy usage of internet enabled phones by youths beyond just communication. Tech savvy young consumers are now than ever using smartphones to shop, play games, organise events and meetings as well as a virtual classrooms.
“As a result, we are seeing a surge in sales from our entry level segment, a pointer that reflects a growing demand for functional devices that are also affordable,” said realme Kenya PR & Marketing Manager, Mildred Agoya.
The International Data Corporation (IDC) in June, 2022 showed that feature phone shipments declining 31.6% YoY as smartphones gained 12.7 percent driven by launch of new smartphones with rich features including high speed internet.
Smartphone shipments in Kenya now accounts for 72 percent of total shipment, driven by entry level handsets with price bands of between 100 – 200 US dollars and mid-range of up to 450 US dollars.
A pandemic-induced push for cashless transaction, contactless meetings and migration of many businesses to online platforms including social platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook, Li said have also accelerated the shift from feature phones and helped to grow size of entry-level smartphone market.
“We begun experiencing this shift at the height of the pandemic, It is now growing bigger post pandemic and showing no signs of stopping fuelled by high cost of living that has significantly reduced consumer purchasing power,”said Mildred Agoya.
According to GSMA’s The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2021 report, Sub-Saharan Africa with 40 % of its population under the age of 15, young consumers owning a mobile phone for the first time will remain the primary source of growth for entry-level smartphones.
GSMA data shows number of unique mobile subscribers will rise by 4.5 percent to 613 million as smartphone ownership is projected to grow to 61 percent by 2025 from current 49 percent. Rate of 4G adoption is also forecast to nearly double to 33 percent over the period.
realme, the youngest and fastest growing smartphone brand globally is consistently working on its business strategy to create a favourable ecosystem for the growing young users to hop into their smartphone upgrade ladder.
Two months ago, the brand announced plan to increase its research and development budget by 58 percent to bolster technology innovation and quality of smartphones with designs that appeal to young customers.
“This means you can expect even more exceptional Number Series phones moving forward, as our Number Series is our essential product line, packing essential tech into a stylish package with an accessible price tag,” Mildred Agoya.
The brand its new plan to increase research budget together with “market cultivation” a strategy to grow shipments to 1 million for each of its 15 core markets, helping it reach its aspiration of providing products with a comprehensive superior experience for the young consumers.
Already, realme has had a first of its early wins, In the first quarter of 2022 , it broke its annual 5 million sales volume mark for the first time globally, driven by sale of entry level phones in Kenya and other markets.
The success of realme entry level phones is attributable to its C-series models that have over the last two years have improved in terms of size, weight, design and quality.
The latest models now feature among others, right angle bazel design, anti slip design, side lock finger print, quality cameras, high speed internet and larger batteries of upto 5000mAh.
realme C35 is the latest in the series to launch in the market and is the first phone in the country to feature an FHD screen. It runs on a Unisoc Tiger 616 chipset paired with 4GB of RAM and 128GB UFS 2.2 storage.
In this line, a number of models including C33, C11 2021, C25Y and C2Y are in the market- all 4G powered.
IDC attributes affordability of entry level smartphones to Chinese vendors, with Transsion brands – Tecno, Itel and Infinix – controlling 48% of the shipments. the corporation places Samsung second, at 25%, while another Chinese brand, Xiaomi, takes the third slot with 6.6%.
“realme is also fast rising to enter this top league as we continue to work on meeting the dynamic and rising needs of the youthful market,” said Mildred Agoya.
A comparative estimate analysis by Canalys released November 2022 ranks realme in the fourth position with a 3 percent share, after Transsion(49 percent), Samsung(33 percent) and Xiaomi(6 percent). The Q3 estimates shows only realme move up the ranks and hand the largest annual growth (71 percent) in shipments.
Agoya added that the newest addition to the C series is the realme C30s which is the only entry level smartphone with a side finger print sensor under Ksh.11,000. This setting the market trends and fulfilling current consumer needs of quality, style/design and pricing.