DeviceAtlas, a firm that has made a business of finding out what sort of smartphones people are using to access the internet, has released its Mobile Web Report for the third quarter of this year.

We should point out that the data gathered by DeviceAtlas was gathered by tracking web browsing and sales figures were not taken into account. With that having been said, the data DeviceAtlas has gleaned is incredibly interesting.

The first of these results is the most common screen resolution. Globally the most common resolution is HD (720×1280) with QHD (1440×2560) becoming ever more popular. Looking at South Africa QHD displays are already the most popular accounting for 17.7% of the market share. The second most popular resolution is Full HD (1080×1920) accounting for 16.6% of the market. Interestingly HD – the world’s most popular resolution – only accounts for 13.3% of the market share locally.

In terms of the physical size of the display (not to be confused with the size of the handset as a whole) the world loves handsets that come in at or between 5.5inches and 5.7inches. South African’s however prefer 5inches of screen real-estate with handsets boasting this display measurement accounting for 15.2% of the market share. Displays measuring 5.1inches diagonally have 14.2% of the market. Smaller handsets with a 4.7inch display account for just 12.5% of the market.

Despite the popularity of 5inch smartphones, DeviceAtlas says that it noticed a 69% increase in Q3 2016 in browsers using a 5.5inch display. Handsets boasting this display size include the iPhone 6 Plus, 6S Plus and the 7 Plus, the Huawei P9, and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

The most popular smartphone brand is…

Samsung. Despite an explosive Galaxy Note 7 launch, the South Korean manufacturer holds 46% of the mobile web traffic market share and Apple only accounts for around 25%. Brands such as Huawei and Sony account for 4.9% and 4.2% of the web traffic respectively..

Blackberry accounts for 8.7% of the web traffic from South Africa and while that might sound bizarre, it isn’t actually when you realise that you can pick up a Blackberry Curve 9320 for R799. Say what you will about Blackberry but when its priced to compete with feature phones, its easier to understand why the brand is still popular here.


As to operating systems, Android is the most popular given how many devices run on the operating system. Android 5.0 – 5.1 is the most popular iteration of the operating system accounting for just under 40% of the mobile web browsing market share with Android 6.0 slowly gaining traction.

So, given the results of the year so far, South Africans prefer browsing the internet from a mobile when its on a 5inch smartphone from Samsung running Android 5.0 or higher. That’s good information for anybody looking to do some web development in the next few months, until DeviceAtlas reveals its report for Q4 2016.


Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.