Weekend Rant: Where did the cheap phones go?

Hello Mobilistas, I hail thee. Its another lovely weekend, and here’s another edition of our Weekend Rants. Today we look at a scenario that has bee building up in the Nigerian smartphone market, and we ask: Where did the cheap phones go? Sit down, relax and enjoy. Don’t forget to voice your opinion.

Sometime ago, I did an article with the question, “Have Infinix and other Chinese brands hit the innovation wall?” This was inspired by the fact that we hardly find cheap (by this, I mean sub-N20,000) phones in the market any more. A few years ago, the likes of Innjoo and Infinix released awesomely cheap devices. People loved them for that, but that has changed today.

Cheap-phones-go

Judging from their latest releases, Infinix and Innjoo have clearly abandoned the entry-level market. This is where the largest numbers are – and also where demand is highest. People contact me almost daily for phone recommendations. These days, it is an arduous task for me to find phones (to suggest) going for less than N20,000. This forces buyers to pick the likes of iTel or other lesser known brands that we can’t really vouch for.

I think TECNO still makes those cheap phones. But they’re not heavily marketed like any of the Camon or Boom series. See the supposedly lower category Infinix Hot 3 – it doesn’t come cheap. The new Infinix Hot S isn’t either. Innjoo has long ago stopped making phones in the mold of the i1 or i1s that made them popular.

For how long will this trend continue? I can only swallow my words when Infinix launches a cheap Infinix Hot 4. Or will there be a branched out cheaper series? What are your thoughts on this?

Etoniru Chibueze

Chibueze is an award-winning gadget reviewer and geek. He loves research, while living and breathing tech. You can reach him on Facebook, Twitter ,OR LinkedIn

8 thoughts on “Weekend Rant: Where did the cheap phones go?

  • August 6, 2016 at 4:49 am
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    Clearly, it’s unsustainable to keep selling smartphones at the rates the Innjoos and Tecnose of this world were selling and continue to make HEALTHY profit.

    Perhaps they were merely trying to establish a name here first, before cashing in when they become a household name (as they have become, now).

    The better known Chinese brands, based on analytics.. may have decided that more money is made selling fewer high_priced phones than numerous lower_priced ones

    Let’s watch and see if a company like Xiaomi would continue to sell awesome phones at (comparably) dirt cheap prices for long..

    • August 6, 2016 at 9:31 am
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      even Xiaomi is already making $400+ phones, they just haven’t ditched the sub $200 market yet

    • August 6, 2016 at 5:30 pm
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      my point exactly

  • August 6, 2016 at 10:37 am
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    I wonder if the build costs is the reason why the sub N20,000 isn’t so attractive? And maybe the exchange rate isn’t helping.

    I mean, why pay say £20 for a 4.5″ chassis when you could get a 5″ or 5.5″ one for £25? And if you’re going spend almost a similar amount on the components for a sub N20k device, why not just cut your losses and go for something more profitable that you will get returns on?

    This is the perfect time for the likes of Lava, iTel et al to get a foothold into the N20k market. And these days, if you’re looking for a sub N20k phone and it’s not a familiar brand, you’re getting what you pay for.

  • August 6, 2016 at 11:01 am
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    There a lot of cheap phones <$50 online with average spec 2000-2300mah battery,1gb RAM,8gb ROM,4. 5"-5.0" screen and Marshmallow os .

  • August 6, 2016 at 1:09 pm
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    I believe the cheap phones are still there,just that the current economic climate in the country has affected the Smartphone market just like every other segment in Nigeria,a $100 Smartphone that sells at an equivalent of #16500 two years ago will today sell for almost#40000 at the current exchange rate,it’s not Rocket Science to appreciate what is going on..

  • August 6, 2016 at 2:05 pm
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    I stopped at a store to ask about feature phones. The cheapest Nokia feature phone was N6,000. Calls and SMS only. Next one had MP3 player and cost N8,000.

    The days of cheap phones are over.

  • August 26, 2017 at 10:06 am
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    The days of cheap phones are over, even though you manage to found one, you will not be pleased with it, because it will never gives you the satisfaction you needed in a good phone. The more money you spend on a phone, the more satisfaction you get.

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