No matter if you’re an African phone distributor or user, you share one thing in common: You both want entry-level Android smartphones for Africa with features which are right for your needs.
Smartphones are the next big thing in Africa, and while it’s easy to dismiss everything else other than price, that’s actually not fair. Africa is a very tech-savvy continent, especially where mobile phone technology is concerned, and users won’t be content with dirt-cheap phones if they don’t offer the features and performance that they require.
So in this blog, I’m going to run you through 7 of the most important features that affordable Android smartphones for the African market should have. Keep reading to find out…
…as I mentioned, low cost is a given, and now that US$50 and below smartphones are starting to appear for the African market, I think that we can safely say that this is the benchmark that Chinese mobile phone manufacturers need to be aiming for in order to offer mass-market appeal for African users.
However, it’s no good making phones affordable if they’re not attractive. So it’s what’s under the hood that counts. Here are the 7 features that we feel that entry-level Android smartphones for Africa require in order to be desirable there:
An Android smartphone really comes to life with a WiFi connection. While faster 3G & 4G LTE networks are beginning to become quite common in most populated African areas, to use mobile data over them still costs money.
Admittedly not every public WiFi connection is free, some coffee shops charge for instance, however many are now springing up in places like libraries, and offer African users the same speedy internet connection as, say 3G, but with none of the cost!
Why to love WiFi?
- FREE (depending on location)
- Fast internet connection
- Allows users to use their smartphone as a computer: Email, stream music, social media, work, free chat over VoIP apps, etc.
2. Dual SIM
It’s very common for African phone users to have 2 SIMs. This could be one each for two different networks, or it could be that they are from the same, yet merely offer different deals.
For instance, you may have one SIM which allows you a certain amount of mobile data per month but includes no calls or messages, but on another you’re allowed a certain amount of voice calls and / or SMS messages, but no mobile data.
On the other hand, business people who often travel to different countries might have a SIM for the network of the country they do business in.
It would be a big nuisance to have to keep switching SIMs, and you’d risk damaging or losing them too!
The solution is dual SIM! With 2 SIM slots, you can insert both and switch between them at the touch of a button, which is much more convenient than fiddling about with them each time you need to make a switch.
Almost all devices use USB to connect with one another these days, so you’d also expect your Android smartphone to adhere to this same standard.
USB will allow you to connect your smartphone to digital cameras, tablets, or pcs. Not only will you be able to transfer any kind of data or media between them, but you’ll also be able to charge your phone at the same time.
With USB you can:
- Charge your phone
- Transfer music, films, TV shows, documents
- Dump files from your pc to phone, or vice versa, for storage
4. Quality Camera / Video Camera
One of the biggest differences between feature phones and Android smartphones is that the latter usually feature much higher quality cameras.
Smartphone users expect to be able to take good pictures or videos and share them directly to social media using their favourite network’s apps. If an Android smartphone has the apps and mobile connectivity to allow them to do this, but is let down by a poor camera, then clearly something is wrong.
Typical feature phones typically feature very low resolution cameras which can be far less than 1MP, and this is much lower than entry-level Android smartphones for Africa should be expected to have.
However, we are still talking about entry-level handsets in order for them to qualify as affordable smartphones, and so a huge improvement would be rear cameras of around 2MP or more, which is more than enough to take clear pictures and videos that users will love!
Android smartphones will include Google’s suite of awesome apps, including Google maps!
By combining Google maps with your smartphone’s mobile data connection and GPS, you can:
- Locate your position
- Get directions from A to B (it operates as a satnav)
- See a map of your (or any) area
- Share your location, or directions to it, with friends
For instance, to get directions somewhere you need to connect to the net via mobile data 3G connection or WiFi > activate GPS > ask maps to find your directions > turn off mobile data. As long as you keep GPS activated your phone will remember the directions it has downloaded from the net, and so you won’t use any more data!
Considering that Google maps has effectively killed paper maps, GPS is most certainly a function worth having just for its navigation alone (and yes, it works in Africa!).
Locked phones are very inconvenient, especially in Africa where 90+% of phone users have SIM only pay-and-go contracts.
A phone lock prevents you from using a SIM in a phone that is not from the carrier that the phone is locked to. For instance, if you buy a phone and SIM from your local mobile network’s store (an expensive way of owning a phone that we don’t recommend), it may be locked to that network. So if after a year or two you try to use a SIM from a different network in it, you will find that it won’t work!
This is why unlocked phones are important for African users. Not only will you be free to use whichever SIMs you like (see Dual SIM above), but you’ll also be able to sell on the phone after a while and it’ll be worth more if anyone can use it.
7. Removable Battery
Charging phones in Africa isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and the relatively poor battery life in comparison to feature phones (which African users will probably be upgrading from for the first time) will probably be one of the most difficult transitions to make for them.
However it will be easier if the smartphone has a removable battery, as a relatively cheap second battery can be purchased (or even included in the deal in order to add value and get a sale), and if the irst runs out, the second can just be popped in.
This removes the panic to find somewhere to charge your phone, and doubles the phone’s battery life! Add to this some careful husbandry of your smartphone battery, and you wouldn’t suffer from a lack of power very often, and would have plenty of time to find somewhere to charge your phone.
Have Your Say…
Do you agree that these 7 features are the most important for entry-level smartphones for Africa, or have I missed any? If so, what do you think should be on the list?
Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below…
Culled from Amgoo.com