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Samsung toppled in Africa by little known Chinese smartphone brand

Samsung continues to lag behind Apple in North America, and now it's lost Africa too.

Published onApril 19, 2021

tecno camon 16 premier render 1
  • According to a new report, Samsung is no longer the top smartphone brand in Africa.
  • Transsion’s Tecno became the continent’s biggest smartphone shipper in 2020.
  • The likes of Itel, Xiaomi, and OPPO also grew their market share portions.

Samsung may be the biggest smartphone maker globally, but this isn’t the case in Africa. According to a new report from research firm Counterpoint, the dominant Korean smartphone maker was bested by little known Chinese brand Tecno in 2020.

Per Counterpoint’s data, Transsion-owned Tecno was responsible for 18% of the total smartphone shipments in Africa last year. The research firm attributes Tecno’s rise to a strong second half of the year and its affordable smartphone portfolio. In contrast, Samsung could muster just 15% as it reportedly faced “supply chain disruptions” in the early half of 2020. Samsung isn’t the only big smartphone name coming under pressure in Africa.

HUAWEI retained its fourth place on the continent with an 8% market share but fell further behind Tecno’s sister brand Itel (12%).

Xiaomi, meanwhile, saw massive gains in Africa. Its shipment numbers grew by 126% in 2020 compared to 2019, doubling its market share to 4%. OPPO saw gains of 57% year over year, too, holding on to 4% of the market share ahead of Apple, HMD, and realme.

Transsion’s premium brand Infinix also saw gains and held onto its fifth position in the market shipment hierarchy.

Budget phones are big business

So why is Samsung floundering in Africa? Unlike North America or the EU, around four in five smartphones shipped in Africa fall below the $200 price band per Counterpoint. It’s a market heavily driven by value, and the players that can offer solid devices at lower price points are reaping the rewards.

Read also: The best budget phones you can buy right now

While Tecno doesn’t offer cutting-edge or novel technologies in its products, its budget Spark and flagship Camon lines come in well under $300. Samsung’s Galaxy A series is the only affordable competitor at this price point. Huawei’s Y series has also been a solid performer, according to the report.

With the pandemic marginally abating across the continent, Samsung will likely recover some market share in 2021. But will it play second fiddle to Tecno going forward? We’ll have to wait and see.

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