Africa’s Smartphone Market Shows Resilience, Records Impressive Growth in Q3 2023

Africa’s smartphone market demonstrated remarkable resilience, charting a notable 12.8 percent year-on-year upswing in shipments during the third quarter of 2023, reaching an impressive 20.1 million units.

5G South Africa
@ GSMA

In contrast, feature phone shipments experienced a marginal decline of 5.1 percent over the same period, totaling 23.1 million units.

Egypt emerged as a standout market, marking the continent’s most significant year-on-year growth in smartphone shipments during Q3 2023. The surge, albeit from a lower base due to the market’s downturn in Q3 2022 following the introduction of stringent import regulations, signifies a rebound as these restrictions were subsequently eased.

South Africa’s smartphone market showcased robust growth, buoyed by the resurgence of local brands and an increased market presence of Chinese brands. Despite grappling with rapid currency devaluation, Nigeria’s smartphone market exhibited commendable growth in Q3 2023, attributed to Infinix and Xiaomi bolstering their shipments of entry-level devices.

Retaining a dominant stance in terms of smartphone market share during Q3 2023 were Transsion brands — Tecno, Itel, and Infinix — whose compelling portfolio of entry-level handsets tailored for the African market solidified their leading position. Following closely, Samsung secured the second spot, with Xiaomi occupying the third position.

The shifting consumer preferences became evident in Q3 2023, with shipments of smartphones priced under $100 witnessing a surge, while devices falling within the $100–$200 range experienced a decline. This trend underscores the growing inclination of consumers towards budget-friendly smartphone options in the region.

Looking ahead, the International Data Corporation (IDC) foresees Africa’s smartphone market expanding by 2.6 percent year-on-year in 2024, projecting a sustained upward trajectory through 2027. Despite intermittent fluctuations attributed to persistent inflationary pressures and escalating macroeconomic uncertainties, these factors are anticipated to influence short-term market dynamics without impeding the overarching shift from feature phones to smartphones.

IDC’s latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker highlights the market’s resilience and its potential for continued growth, emphasizing the transformative shift towards smartphone adoption despite prevailing economic challenges in the short term.