In contrast with the global smartphone market which is experiencing negative growth, feature phones have contributed to 23% of the total handset shipments in the third quarter this year, a new report has said. According to Counterpoint Research's "Market Monitor service", feature phone shipments grew for the fourth consecutive quarter. "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.
After the slowdown of shipments from Jio in India, much of this growth came from Middle East and Africa (MEA) where shipments grew at a rate of 32%, making it the largest feature phone market globally, the company said in a blog post late Wednesday.
In emerging countries like Africa and India, battery life becomes an important factor for choice of mobile phone and feature phones have much better battery life than smartphones. "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.
With 4G feature phones in the market, most popular applications like WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube are now available on basic devices. "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.
Considering the under-penetrated emerging markets, feature phones will remain relevant for at least next five years, said the report, adding that new low-income users, who would experience mobile for the first time, would likely go first for a feature phone.