15 May 2019
Global feature phone shipments have grown for the fourth consecutive quarter in 2018, with the maximum growth seen in Middle East and Africa (MEA). India which is a big feature phone market saw a slowdown due to a decrease in shipments of JioPhone from Reliance Jio.
Feature phone have returned to popularity with more 4G feature phones hitting the market. The new feature phones are all equipped with popular applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, and YouTube are now available on basic devices.
In the third quarter, the shipments in MEA grew at a rate of 32%, and thus emerged as the largest feature phone market. The Middle East and Africa (MEA) and India now have 36% market share in the feature phone segment, followed by Rest of Asia with 18% market share.
iTel, a sub-brand of Transsion Holdings and HMD Global, leads the feature phone market with a share of 14% each, followed by Reliance Jio with 11% share. Samsung and Tecno took the fourth and fifth spot with a market share of 8% and 6% respectively.
"The return of Nokia HMD has also fuelled the demand for feature phones in the market. 3310 has been a smash hit," Varun Mishra, Research Analysts at Counterpoint, said in a blog post.
"Itel, also with its localised products, has become popular in African market which has helped it become the largest feature phone brand globally," he added. "Feature phones are also being used as a secondary device for calling by many users on account of their high battery life," the report noted.
"Like smartphones, feature phones are also upgrading from 2G to 3G and now 4G phones. Applications and facilities which were only a part of smartphones are trickling down to feature phones as well," said Mishra.