The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has ranked Ghana as the leading African country in mobile broadbrand penetration. The ITU’s report placed the proportion of the Ghanaian population who use the internet at 14%. With such a relatively high use of the internet, it is no surprise that smartphones are so popular in Ghana.
This list looks at the most popular smartphone brands used in Ghana, not necessarily the best. I’m also talking only about smartphones, not feature phones. If you disagree with this list or want to make your own list, please leave a comment.
The list is in the order of least popular to most popular.
Even before Steve Jobs launched his monster, the iPhone in 2007, the iPod was a pretty popular gadget in Ghana. The release of the iPhone introduced the touch screen technology on a large scale to the Ghanaian smartphone consumer. The phone’s simple but elegant design, big screen and high price made a coveted item and Ghanaians forgave it for not having a 3G network capability or even an FM radio (trust me, radio matters in Ghana). Needless to say, the introduction of more powerful iPhones has kept Ghanaian interest in the brand even with the huge blow it suffered with the introduction of Android.
Most used: iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4
The influx of Chinese products unto several African markets is facilitated by their tendency to offer innovative features at a low price. Although several Chinese phones were already in the market, the Tecno distributors took the gamble of aggressive advertising to build a strong brand instead of going as an imitation or under the generic “China phone” brand. The gamble paid off. Tecno is one of the most recognisable phone brands in Ghana, and it dominates the China phone section of the phone market. It is especially popular among first-time smartphone users. Its series of double SIM card capacity phones gives it an advantage over the usually single SIM build of bigger brands. The introduction of the Android software platform has even drawn in new users, fascinated by Google’s phone OS.
Most used: Tecno N3 and Tecno T9
RIM may be suffering elsewhere, but certainly not in Ghana. Blackberry remains a premium brand mostly because of its BBM Messaging Platform and the subscription that is required to use it. Just as in the rest of the world, Blackberry has gone from a Business tool to a Social Networking gadget. The inclusion of a full keyboard is still a plus to the depleting number of phone users who are still unsure of touchscreen technology. The phone has however taken a hit from the popularity of the cross-platform messaging app, WhatsApp which has somewhat rubbed off part of the uniqueness of BBM. It is however, still very popular in Ghana and they should be cautious of discarding the full hard-body keyboard in favour of all-touch screen phones.
Most used: Curve 8520, Bold 9700 and Torch
Say Nokia, say Feature Phone. Say Nokia, say Symbian. Yes, the Finnish mobile phone giant is in all kinds of trouble and it seems to be happening in Ghana as well. Although its feature phone segment is doing fine in Ghana, most of the smartphones it sells here still run on the discontinued Symbian platform. The success of the E-Series and N-series keeps Nokia in this list, as well as its unmatched reputation for durability, dependability and battery life, especially among older smartphone users. Nokia has to hit big with its new Windows Phone powered phones if it’s to keep its enviable position on the Ghanaian market.
Most used: N95, E72, Asha, C3
Until a few years ago, Samsung was mostly known for household appliances. That largely changed with the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy in 2009. Though it took time to gain ground, Samsung phones are now the leader in terms of popular smartphones. The Galaxy S was widely popular as have the Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Y, Galaxy Mini, Galaxy S2 and S3. Samsung has taken full advantage of the success of their phones in Ghana by opening several official outlets for retailing and repairs. The brand however suffers from their over-reliance on Android. It is unknown if it can wean itself of Google’s chokehold. With talks of Tizen powered Samsung phones nearing arrival, the reaction of the Ghanaian consumer is as yet, unpredictable.
Most used: Galaxy Y, Galaxy Ace and Galaxy S2
Honourable Mentions: HTC, Sony Ericsson and rlg