Africa’s largest cellular operator, MTN is staging a new attempt at giving emerging markets a cheap smartphone – costing about $25.
The mobile phone which was designed in partnership with China Mobile, chipmaker Unisoc and feature phone operating system KaiOS, is dubbed “the world’s first 3G smart feature phone.”
MTN CEO, Rob Shuter said the device will start the sales in the first quarter of 2019 in Nigeria and South Africa first, which are its biggest markets. MTN has 225,4 million subscribers in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East.
Shuter said it is a “wonderful bridge device” for the vast number of Africans who still use feature phones because they cannot afford smartphones.
“This initiative contributes to the achievement of one of our key goals to provide affordable data enabled handsets to our customers, and by so doing, remove some of the barriers to mobile internet adoption in Africa,” he said at a press briefing at the annual AfricaCom conference in Cape Town.
“This device is very familiar to our 150-million customers who are not yet on a smartphone. It has a keyboard, it doesn’t have a touchscreen, and a very long battery life, which is important for many of our customers that still struggle for regular recharging of devices.”
Of the partnership, he added: “Our collaboration has been to design the world’s first 3G smart feature phone”. It will run a feature phone operating system called KaiOS that is used by 50-million handsets in emerging markets and can run on handsets like the Nokia 8110 4G.
The phone will have dual-SIM functionality, which is important in Africa where people often have SIM cards for different networks, and take advantage of competing specials for data and airtime or to make cheaper on-network calls. It has Bluetooth, GPS, a 2.4-inch screen and a large 2,000mah battery.
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