NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Feature phones are on their deathbed in Kenya,
with time running out for the gadgets that have been on sale in
the East African nation for close to 20 years.
The gadgets, mainly
used by low-income earners currently, are being edged out of the
market by low cost, multifunctional smartphones, whose sale has
been on the rise in Kenya.
indicates that feature phones may not be in the Kenyan market in
the next two years as manufacturers continue to unveil new low
Most of the low cost
smartphones are mainly from Chinese manufacturers including
Tecno, Itel, X-Tigo, Wiko, Neon and Huawei.
The gadgets are
priced between 25 U.S. dollars and 50 dollars, making them
affordable to the bottom-end segment of the market.
embraced the smartphones that come with a camera for selfies, a
torch, internet and radio in droves, leaving no room for feature
phones considered dumb and outdated.
Most of those
currently using feature phones in the East African nation are
mobile money agents because of the nature of their work.
“I have kept this
feature phone for use in my business because it is efficient.
Myself I have smartphone but for mobile money transactions, I
use the feature phone because its battery lasts even for a week
as long as it is fully charged, enabling me to serve several
customers without interruptions,” David Nzule, a mobile money
shop operator in Nairobi said Wednesday.
another mobile money operator, noted that he has stuck with a
feature phone because for most smartphones, mobile money menu is
hidden among the numerous apps, making access difficult.
“Feature phones are
straightforward, the problem is that if you go looking for them
right now you will not get any, especially in shops run by
telecoms in the city center unless you go to small dealers
downtown Nairobi,” he said.
A survey in several
shops of the telecoms operating in Nairobi on Wednesday revealed
that the companies stopped stocking the feature phones about two
“We no longer sell
feature phones in this shop. We stopped several years, about two
years ago. If you want a smartphone, then we can talk,” an
attendant at a Safaricom shop on Moi Avenue said.
African nation’s leading telecom, in a recent report noted that
over 100,000 smart phones are sold in Kenya each month.
The company noted
that two thirds of all mobile phones sold in its outlets were
smartphones, both high and low cost, lifting penetration of the
gadgets in Kenya to over 70 percent, up from one percent in
In a new survey,
GlobalData Mobile Broadband Forecast paints a grim picture of
the future of feature phones in Kenya.
The company noted in
a survey released Monday that by the end of 2022, over 80
percent of mobile phone subscribers in Kenya, which are about 31
million, would be using smartphones.
predicted that the number of active smartphone subscriptions in
Kenya would hit 20 million by the end of the year, signifying a
major increase from last year.
“This increase in
smartphone numbers matters as Kenya is also home to some of
Africa’s most innovative software developers,” said Simon
Anderson, GlobalData analyst for the Africa and Middle East
Bernard Mwaso, an
information technology consultant with Edell IT Solutions in
Nairobi reckoned that time is up for feature phones in Kenya.
“Few people want to
be caught with a feature phone today because the options for
smartphones are wide. You cannot resist change, we said bye to
the landline, why not feature phones?” he said.