Even more Africans own a smartphone thanks to a huge jump in shipments of low cost handsets to our part of the world in 2014. That’s according to the Q4 2014 Handsets Tracker published yesterday by analysts at International Data Corporation (IDC) which reveals that smartphones accounted for 41.9% of all mobile handset shipments to the Middle East Africa (MEA) region in 2014, up from just 27% in 2013.

The popularity of affordable smartphones is a death knell for good old feature phones. Feature phone shipments decreased by 4.5% in 2014. Meanwhile, there 83% rise in shipments of smartphones, alongside a 20% rise in the number of handsets overall.

The number of smartphones shipped that cost around R1 200 rose by 20%, while smartphones in the R1 200 to R2 200 price bracket increased by 8% to 33% of market share in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Pricier smartphones that cost between R3 000 and R6 000 experienced a slump to 18% of overall market share, down from 23% in the third quarter of 2013.

Affordability is not the only reason we are buying these smartphones to the loss of Samsung and benefit of vendors like Huawei and Lenovo who target the mid- and low-end of the market according to IDC’s research manager Nabila Popal.

“Many users that had made the switch from Apple to Samsung specifically for the larger screen sizes have now started to switch back. Meanwhile, Huawei has experienced a wave of growth in the mid to low-end segment, with its Honor 3 and Ascend Y series enjoying great success. The vendor has struck the right balance between quality and price, particularly in some of the region’s more emerging markets where it is even killing the local competition,” says Popal.

The research conducted by the IDC also indicates that the Middle East Africa witnessed a massive 58% increase in the shipment of iOS devices in the fourth quarter  of last year compared to the third quarter in line with increases in other markets across the globe.

Android shipments on the other hand increased by only 3.8% over the same period. Blackberry OS demand is on a downward spiral according to the IDC report although it had after a temporary increase in 2013. (This bit is unsurprising as the decline in Blackberry OS sales was predicted by a previous htxt.africa news story.)

[Image – CC 1.0 byhuyquynh0]