The request for feature phones continue to experience positive growth, as shipments grew for the fourth consecutive quarter of 2018 and contributing to 23 percent of the total handset shipments.
This is in contrast with the smartphone market, which is experiencing negative growth rates, according to Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service.
The market continued growth of feature phones largely came from Middle East & Africa (MEA), which has emerged as the largest feature phone market globally. Shipments in MEA grew at a rate of 32 percent, Counterpoint noted.
The global market monitor company also, revealed that the reasons for the popularity of feature phone segment in these markets include their battery life span.
According to Counterpoint, in some of the emerging countries like Africa and India, infrastructure facilities like electricity are still not accessible to a sizable population. Quoting world bank data of 2014, Counterpoint said around 600 million people lacked electricity in Africa alone, where there is an increasing usage of mobile payments.
Other reasons for the continued growth of feature phones include
Sizable User Base: While there has been a trend to migrate to smartphones, still for the not so tech savvy users using a phone for the first time or the older population requiring ease of use, poor quality of entry level smart phones, low purchasing power of users in the emerging markets and robust built of feature phone are some of the reasons which still makes it a popular choice among users. Also, with 4G feature phones in the market, most popular applications like WhatsApp, Facebook and you tube are available on these basic devices, which is enough for a segment of users, who are not willing to upgrade to the smartphone.
Return of Nokia HMD and growth of iTel: The return of Nokia HMD has also fueled the demand for feature phones in the market. 3310 has been a smash hit. Nostalgia combined with good built quality has helped become the second largest feature phone player globally in Q3 2018. iTel also with its localized products have become popular in African market, which has helped it become the largest feature phone brand globally.
“Considering the under-penetrated emerging markets, Feature phones will remain relevant for at least next five years. New low-income users, who would experience mobile for the first time will likely do it through a feature phone first,” it noted.