Samsung is NOT taking over Nigeria’s Mid-Range Smartphone Market

There is no question about it: Samsung’s recent response to Chinese manufacturers who have been eating away at its market share has been commendable. The Korean brand has released a lineup of new Galaxy A smartphones that are much better value for money than the brand used to offer. And this has won them some accolades and brought in more sales.

But it is a mistake to suppose that Samsung is anywhere close to taking over the mid-range smartphone market in Africa’s largest country. And the reasons are clear if you care to have a good look.

2019 samsung phones galaxy a series
Samsung is NOT taking over Nigeria’s Mid-Range Smartphone Market

I offer two clear arguments from my observations of the market:

  1. TECNO and Infinix, who currently rule that market, immediately responded by introducing new models that offer still better value than Samsung’s new models.
  2. A new entrant into the Nigerian market, Xiaomi, offers much better value phones than Samsung does.

If you look at the balance of forces, Infinix and TECNO are likely holding their ground, or at worst losing a small bit of ground, while Xiaomi is likely eating some of Samsung’s lunch.

Samsung would be taking over had Transsion not responded appropriately and were Xiaomi not in the picture.

In the entry-level space, itel Mobile still has no competition. It rules unchallenged. The brand has mastered the art of crafting out low cost smartphones with a fair amount of modern features.

That leaves TECNO and Infinix to face the onslaught of Xiaomi in the mid-range market. This is where Xiaomi is strong and vibrant. And Samsung’s mid-range offerings do not match Xiaomi’s. In terms of pricing, they do not match Infinix and TECNO either.

TECNO And Infinix Still Rule In Pricing

Infinix Hot 8 splash

Insert comparisons here are a few comparison articles that pitch TECNO and Infinix phones against some of the new Samsung models. In almost all of them, the competition offers better pricing or features.

All available evidence says that while the new Samsung Galaxy A phones are an improvement, they have not upset the market dynamics. Before they arrived, TECNO and Infinix offered better pricing. Now that they are here, those two brands still offer better pricing.

Mention any device in the new Galaxy A lineup and you will find devices from itel, TECNO, and Infinix that offer similar specs for below the Samsung’s price. As a matter of fact, Transsion offers models with better core capabilities e.g. RAM and storage, at the same price as Samsung phones.

Yes; Samsung has a device in every price range from N36,000 upwards, but for every device Samsung has, TECNO and Infinix have 3 to 4 better-priced alternatives.

Much Ado About Software Updates

Most smartphone users do not care about software updates. I have interacted with smartphone There’susers for years and if there is one thing that is a fact, it is that most regular people do not care about updates. Most of them use their phones for years without installing a single update.

Techies and power users, on the other hand, tend to be more keen about updates. The most ardent update lovers opt for Google Pixel phones (not readily available here) or Nokia smartphones. And this is Nokia’s greatest selling point besides its strong brand power.

But it also means that they may have a hard time selling that value proposition to regular users. I use the word “may”, because regular users also know and love the Nokia brand and will buy a Nokia just because it is a Nokia. So, Nokia will get a firm footing in the market. How big its slice of the pizza will be is left to be seen.

nokia phones lead in software and security updates
Nokia Android phones lead in software and security updates

But as far as updates are concerned, the average person who buys a TECNO or Infinix does not care. That is a fact. Which means that software updates do not give Samsung a significant edge in the Nigerian market. It isn’t as if Samsung is fast on the draw with updates. users have to wait many months before updates are released to them. Nokia users, on the other hand, get software updates much faster – and it doesn’t matter what model they have. They get 3 years of guaranteed, speedy Android OS updates.

Techies and power users, who make up a tiny sector of the market, will rave about updates and make buying decisions based on that. But they constitute less than 10% of the market.

At the end of the day, the Nigerian market is price-sensitive and with current economic realities, it will stay so for a long time.

What Of Innovation and Cutting Edge Features?

Not only have TECNO and Infinix maintained their price advantage over Samsung, they have also kept up with modern smartphone design trends, making sleek phones with gradient colour finishing, punch hole displays, under-display fingerprint scanner, and the like.

As a matter of fact, Transsion’s 3 mobile brands are now as cool as Samsung and Xiaomi devices as far as aesthetics are concerned.

Lastly, they keep improving on the camera front. Recently, myself and a member of the Mobility Arena team walked into the new TECNO store at Ikeja City Mall and did a quick selfie shootout between a TECNO Camon model and one of the mainstream brands, and we got clearer, sharper, more detailed photos from the TECNO. This is not a blanket endorsement of TECNO’s camera phones, but that was our experience – and a surprise to both of us.

Innovation? TECNO and Infinix are definitely innovating. Only people who haven’t tried out their 2019 models will claim that they are not.

The Real Threat To Transsion In The Mid-Range Smartphone Market in Nigeria

Redmi Note 7 and Redmi Go

The real threat to Transsion in Nigeria’s mid-range smartphone market is Xiaomi, not Samsung. Bang for buck, Xiaomi offers better value than Samsung. And bang for buck, Infinix and TECNO still offer better value than Samsung does.

Make no mistake about it, if any mobile brand is taking over the mid-range smartphone market from Infinix and TECNO, it isn’t Samsung. As a matter of fact, you might be surprised to find that Xiaomi is quietly eating away some of Samsung’s share of the market. That is what happened in other markets where Xiaomi went up against Samsung, and there is nothing different in how Nigeria’s mobile market is currently structured to expect a different result.

Below are links to articles that provide stats and figures about how mobile phone brands stand in the Nigerian smartphone market up till September 2019. Nothing in those stats support the idea that Samsung is taking over the mid-range segment. I threw in the Kenya article to illustrate how the pattern is the same there as well.

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Award-winning Content creator, Digital marketing consultant, Trainer, Conference speaker, and Nigeria's pioneer and foremost mobile phone reviewer. Legend.

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