In Nigeria, the mobile phone keypad thrives on

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If you think that Nigeria is a smartphone market, you must not get outside of the plush areas of the major cities much. You need to get on public buses and ride around Lagos and Abuja. Then you need to get on inter-state buses (forget airplanes) and take rides around the country. What you will find will knock you out of your mental utopia.

keypad phones

What you will find is that not only is Nigeria far from being a smartphone market, but that the mobile phone keypad is still the defacto king. From bus and cab drivers to market men and women, artisans of all kinds, phones with regular keypads are ubiquitous. They are everywhere.

The surprising thing is how you meet someone browsing the web comfortably on his weathered TECNO featurephone with a QWERTY keyboard. In one instance, I sat marvelling as I watched someone do it on a long bus ride. He ran Google searches and read webpages on and on – over a GPRS connection.

For now, here in Nigeria – and much of Africa, I dare argue, our giant touchscreen slabs are the exception, not the norm. The mobile phone keypad thrives on.


  1. Like seriously? Had to check the date this article was published again. 2015? I don’t really see all these phones around me oh. Virtually everyone I know or see owns a smartphone. But then am in Lagos!

  2. I have to agree. Feature phones continue to thrive in the market; but then, it shouldn’t come as a total shock.

  3. I agree with you bro. It’s the norm down here to always have a ‘button’ phone. .either as first choice or as a backup

  4. I think there’s a duality in operation – almost everyone I met with a feature phone also had a smartphone. And when the smartphone doesn’t work, they default to the feature phone. I actually saw this in action whilst outside a bank, how some guy effortlessly went from one to the other.

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