Here is SA’s most popular smartphone – report

DURBAN – South Africans have firm favourites when it comes to smartphones and statistics conducted by MTN and Vodacom show that the Hisense U961 is the most widely used phone in South Africa. 

The Hisense U961 is priced at around R999. It is followed by the Mobicel Rebel, Mobicel Astro and a few other smartphones brands, all of which cost more than R1000

Online service has analysed its website traffic and the results suggest that the majority of smartphones that visit the website are Apple iPhones –any of them–, which altogether surpass the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime. 

From a total of 13,025 smartphones, 24 percent (3172) are an Apple, followed by Samsung with 17 percent (2166) and Huawei with 7 percent (925). 

Smartphone # %
Apple iPhone 3127 24%
Samsung SM-G532F Galaxy Grand Prime+ 2166 17%
Huawei ANE-LX1 P20 Lite 925 7%
Samsung SM-J500F Galaxy J5 659 5%
Hisense U961 568 4%
Huawei VNS-L31 P9 Lite 506 4%
Huawei CAG-L02 Y3 2018 496 4%
Samsung SM-J111F Galaxy J1 Ace 468 4%
Apple iPad 463 4%
Samsung SM-G570F J5 Prime 423 4%

The trends of the most popular smartphones in South Africa run counter to the global trends which place Samsung as the best-selling smartphone brand in the world.

The following factors influence people’s choice of one phone over the other


In South Africa, local smartphone brands’ shipments grew 33 percent year-on-year in 2018 with Mobicel being the leading contributor. Mobicel became the second-largest smartphone brand in SA during 2018 with its market share climbing to 16 percent, from 6 percent in 2017. Mobicel became the fastest growing brand thanks to its affordable yet feature-packed smartphones. 

Whereas high-end smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Apple iPhones dominate the news and advertisement, it seems that it is in fact more affordable smartphones that dominate sales in SA. It is clear that the affordability made the Hisense U961 popular in the South African market, so affordability has been considered as the key reason for rising smartphone sales in the country.

Defining Features 

The most popular activities that people use their phones for are making calls (59 percent) and receiving calls (44 percent), followed by accessing the internet with 40 percent and accessing applications with 21 percent. But every smartphone can make and receive calls, so what makes the difference here is whether the smartphone can access the internet and launch mobile applications.

Three out of the top five smartphones sold in South Africa use Android Go, a stripped-down version of Android designed to run on entry-level smartphones, which allows downloading, installing and running the most popular mobile applications in South Africa.  

All of these apps are supported by Android Go, which makes this mobile operating system the largest smartphone market in South Africa, and, naturally, it makes the smartphones that use this operating system popular as well. 

Mobile Networks 

The high demand for smartphones is mainly driven not only by the reasonable prices of smartphones but also by cheaper 4G mobile data plans by mobile networks. By providing discounted bundles and tariff plans to urban as well as rural users, 4G services are now broadening their reach throughout the country, and thus increasing the purchases of smartphones nationwide. The two most popular mobile networks in South Africa offer the cheapest prices for monthly data bundles for prepaid smartphones. 


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