Smartphone Price Wars Heat Up In South Africa

Written by Dana Sanchez

Players in the growing South African smartphone market are competing to differentiate themselves and this can only mean good news for consumers.

With sales of smartphones reaching saturation in developing markets, manufacturers are looking to undeveloped markets in Africa, home of the fastest smartphone subscription growth rate in the world, according to a CNBCAfrica video.

Smartphone penetration is still very low in Africa.

At the recent 2014 AfricaCom in Cape Town, 6,000-plus technology professionals discussed rural connectivity, mobile money and video-on demand for Africa’s 851-million subscribers.

CNBC Africa reporter Thomas Maree checked out the new devices and operating systems hitting the market, including Nigeria’s Tecno, South Africa’s Mint, and Firefox for smartphones in South African markets.

Mint is a locally manufactured smartphone and tablet range.

The Firefox operating system, previously associated only with a browser, is now available for smartphone and is setting its sights on South African markets.

Alcatel showed off the first Firefox OS phones at Africacom. Critics of Firefox OS
say its ecosystem of applications lacks maturity, and it will struggle against established players, CNBCAfrica reports.

Proponents say Firefox OS is targeting the entry level market which cares more about affordability than about what operating system the device has.

Mint CEO, Oupa Magashula, said the main emphasis is affordabilty.

Mint’s smartphones start at 136 rand ($12.37) for a feature phone and go up to 1788 rand ($163 US) for 4G LTE,  “and they’re produced in Boksburg, South Africa,” Magashula told CNBCAfrica.