SAʼs smartphone shipments surge 29%

Image of Counterpoint Research graph outlining the growth of smartphone shipments

SURGING GROWTH Honor grew the most in South Africa in 2023, reaching the second position in the market from almost no share a year ago

5th April 2024

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Smartphone shipments in South Africa in 2023 expanded 29%, driven by robust shipments in the second half of the year, intensified competition among Chinese original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and numerous promotional activities by major OEMs, the latest data from research firm Counterpointʼs Market Monitor service shows.

This was the country’s highest-ever yearly smartphone shipment growth rate, boosted by the availability of device financing schemes from operators and channel partners which enhanced smartphone accessibility and adoption.

“Despite facing multiple macroeconomic challenges, South Africa’s smartphone market continues to grow, driven by popular demand, widening availability of digital services and the increased presence of Chinese OEMs,” says Counterpoint senior research analyst Yang Wang.

While Samsung took the top spot in South Africa in 2023, global technology brand Honor became the leading smartphone provider during the fourth quarter of 2023 after experiencing its best period, according to Counterpoint.

“Honor grew the most in South Africa in 2023, reaching the second position in the market from almost no share a year ago.”

During 2023, Samsung had a market share of 21%, a decline from 29% in 2022, while Honor held an overall 13% share in 2023, up from 1% in 2022.

While it remained the top player in 2023, fierce competition from Chinese OEMs led to Samsung declining 6% during the year.

Xiaomi grew 61% and Transsion Group grew 48%, mainly owing to Tecno’s 64% growth in the country and Itel continuing to gain popularity in the low-end market, with Xiaomi ending the year with a market share of 12%, an increase from 10% in 2022, while Tecno increased its share from 6% to 7%.

During the fourth quarter of 2023, Honor drove South Africa’s 91% surge in smartphone shipments, achieving a 24% market share and was named the fastest growing technology brand.

Other Chinese OEMs, including Xiaomi, Tecno and Itel, also aggressively expanded, with their shipments increasing by 86%, 80% and 93% respectively during the fourth quarter of the year under review, holding market shares of 11%, 8% and 6% respectively.

Samsung reported growth of 5% in the fourth quarter of the year, with a 14% market share, down from 26% in the fourth quarter of 2022.

In line with global trends, consumer preference in South Africa is shifting towards premium $800-plus smartphones.

“The segment saw an increase of 57% year-on-year, driven mainly by Apple, which grew 83% during the year.

The $150 to $249 price band grew 26%, as lower-end sub-$100 consumers upgraded their devices, owing to the higher value proposition offered by mid-range smartphones.

In terms of network technology, although long-term evolution still dominates, fifth- generation (5G) is fast catching up, with 5G smartphone shipments growing 31%, as device prices continued to decline.

The expected growth in 5G coverage in the next few years, particularly in city centres, will further boost 5G smartphone penetration in the country.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor




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