Nigeria is one of the largest smartphone markets in Africa. With an overall population of over 200 million people, we can understand why its smartphone market is so large. However, the region has a penchant for some brands and we will look at the top 10 of these smartphone brands today. Generally, after the COVID-19 pandemic, the African smartphone market is now rebounding. Arnold Ponela, a senior research analyst at IDC said “After a year of unprecedented market conditions, Africa’s smartphone market is showing signs of recovery from the economic damage inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic…the region’s largest smartphone markets each contributed to the overall growth in Q2 2021, with Nigeria (+36.7%), Egypt (+24.6%), and South Africa (+10.5%) all recording strong year-on-year increases in shipments.”
Top 5 smartphone brands in Nigeria
South Korean manufacturing giant, Samsung, is not just the largest smartphone brand in Nigeria, it is also the largest in the entire African continent. This is so because Samsung has a wide variety of smartphones for every class. The flagship Galaxy S and Note series are attractive for the high-end market. However, there is also the Galaxy A, J and other series for the mid and low-end markets. For example, some of the best selling Samsung devices in Nigeria are in the A-series. The Samsung Galaxy A51 and A71 completely sold out swiftly in Nigeria.
On Google Trends, Samsung has a 100 points search score in Nigeria. Apparently, Nigerians are not only searching for Samsung smartphones but other Samsung products. However, even the most expensive Samsung phones have buyers in Nigeria. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Fold also sold out in the most populous black nation in the world.
There is no surprise that Samsung is one of the top smartphone brands in Nigeria. The company is a household name that dates back to 2005.
2. Transsion Holdings
Transsion Holding has three smartphone brands namely Tecno, Itel, and Infinix. These smartphone brands continues to dominate the African smartphone market for a few years. In addition to the smartphone space, these brands also dominate the feature phone segment. On Google Trend, their search result isn’t so high and the reason is not far fetched. Nigerians can get all the information they need about these brands by walking into a shop. Thus, there is really no need to do an online search in many cases.
While Infinix usually releases the most expensive Transsion smartphones, iTel unleashes the cheapest. Techno smartphones are positioned between Infinix and iTel in terms of price. However, it is interesting to note that Infinix and Techno sometimes struggle for market supremacy in Nigeria.
Nigerians are quite sentimental and that is why some of the biggest entertainment artists are brand ambassadors for these brands. Infinix brings the best features for its pretty affordable smartphones. It has all sorts of technology including punch-hole cameras, pop-up cameras, super-fast charging and so on.
The Tecno brand was the first Transsion Holdings smartphone to gain popularity in Nigeria. This brand set the pace for Infinix and iTel. Tecno’s Camon series has been a key series for the company in Nigeria. Its incredible camera with several beauty features makes it so attractive. Of course, the most attractive part of this brand is that it is relatively cheaper.
iTel is known for its really cheap smartphones which makes it the “low-end king” of the Nigerian smartphone market. In recent times, the company has been losing its popularity but in 2020, it bounced back in 2020 with the iTel Vision 1 and iTel A56 series. Despite its cheap smartphones, the company also keep up with the latest technologies in the smartphone industry.
3. Redmi (including Xiaomi)
Xiaomi entered the Nigerian smartphone market in 2019. However, within only three years, it has had a sweeping effect on the market. Xiaomi usually has a strong grip on any market that is more interested in price rather than features. Recall that Xiaomi has been on top of the Indian smartphone market for several years consecutively. This is because it is a price-centric market. Transsion Holdings is not making things easy for Xiaomi but with the Redmi brand, the company is penetrating the Nigerian smartphone market.
Xiaomi releases only its mid-range Redmi smartphones in Nigeria and they are doing so well. The Redmi 9, and Redmi Note 9 are some of the decent mid-range smartphones in Nigeria.
4. BBK Electronics
Just like Transsion Holdings, BBK Electronics also has three smartphone brands in the Nigerian market. Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus are all BBK smartphones in the Nigerian market. However, the presence of Oppo and Vivo is much more than OnePlus. The reason for this is because OnePlus releases basically flagship phones. These will be too expensive for the Nigerian smartphone market. OnePlus does not make ads that target Nigerians, however, the same can not be said of Vivo and Oppo. Vivo has a plethora of decent smartphones in the smartphone market while Oppo even has Nigerian celebrities as brand ambassadors.
5. Nokia (HMD Global)
Nokia may not release many smartphones every year but the company is doing well in Nigeria. It even has a dedicated website for the Nigerian market and the Nokia X, G and C series appear to be its hit series in the African nation. The company also releases new feature phones which the Nigerian market appreciates. Nokia smartphones are not entirely cheap in Nigeria and it does not use brand ambassadors. However, Nokia is a household name in Nigeria and the name is even more popular than Samsung. The company’s presence in Nigeria dates back to 2001, the same year that mobile phones were introduced in Nigeria.
Nokia is one of the first mobile phones to enter the Nigerian smartphone market. After all the years and taking over by HMD Global, the company has been consistent.
The obvious absentees from this list are Huawei and Apple. For Huawei, we all know that after the U.S. ban and lack of Google Play Store, it became a “no-no” in Nigeria. As for Apple, make no mistake about it, the brand is very popular in the Nigerian smartphone market. However, why is it not on the top 5 list? Why is Nokia ranking higher than Apple? The truth is that the average Nigerian can not afford Apple products. Take the iPhone 13 Pro Max as an example, this device costs between 900,000 – 1,400,000 Nigerian naira (NGN). This price corresponds to the annual (yearly) salary of a university lecturer (graduate assistant and assistant lecturer) in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the Nigerian market operates a direct buyout system. This means that there is no room for weekly or monthly subscriptions to own the device. Thus, the best many Nigerians do with Apple products is window shopping and nothing more. Although Nigerians appreciate Apple’s quality, they just cant afford it. This is why it falls down the pecking order among the top smartphone brands in Nigeria.