Smartphone adoption in Nigeria has grown recently, spurred by a growing young population and the accompanying demand for internet services. The country boasts Africa’s largest mobile population, which stood at 222.5 million last December, according to data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Despite this impressive figure, only 10-20% of Nigeria’s population uses a smartphone, according to Statista.
However, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel, as Statista forecasts that smartphone users in Nigeria will grow to more than 140 million by 2025, amounting to 66% smartphone penetration. But the current situation shows that much still needs to be done.
Orange Business Intelligence Technology (ORBIT) — the research and tech unit of Orange Group Nigeria — recently released the Nigeria Smartphone Study [pdf], which sought to assess smartphone trends and ascertain which apps were being used with smartphones in Nigeria.
For one, experts have said that Android phones will continue to dominate the African smartphone market due to their affordability and availability.
Tecno is Nigeria’s most-used smartphone brand
The report reveals that Transsion Holdings-owned Tecno holds the crown for the most-used smartphone brand in Nigeria. Trailing behind is Inifinix, also owned by the Chinese manufacturer, followed by iPhone and Samsung, which hold the third and fourth place, respectively.
However, this is hardly surprising. Though Africa prides itself on being the world’s fastest-growing mobile phone market, the continent is dominated by Chinese brands whose products are preferred for their relatively affordable prices and features.
Africa’s smartphone market recorded an 18% drop in shipments last year, according to the Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, released by the International Data Corporation (IDC), a global market intelligence provider. Of the total 73.4 million units shipped into Africa last year, South Korea’s Samsung, and Chinese brands Tecno and Itel, accounted for 65% of the figure.
Most Nigerians just can’t afford iPhones
Owning an Apple smartphone is considered a marker of wealth and class in Nigeria, where over 133 million people live in poverty. Additionally, these high-end devices offer better specifications and user experience than their Android counterparts hence their expensive price tags.
No wonder most Nigerians prefer second-hand iPhones more than any other smartphone brand.
Per data from Statista, iOS users make up just under 10% of the Nigerian mobile operating system market. The point here is that not everyone can afford to buy an iPhone. For context, it will take an average Nigerian a minimum of 304.9 days to afford the iPhone 14 Pro, according to the iPhone Index 2022 released by the international e-commerce platform Picodi.
From WhatsApp to Boomplay: a look at Nigeria’s most-used apps
The report also revealed the apps most used by Nigerians segmented based on global and regional outlooks. While “global” apps have worldwide coverage, “regional” apps refer to those with a primary market in Africa.
WhatsApp and Facebook lead the pack in the global apps category, with over 90% penetration. Xender, a file-sharing app, comes third with about 84% penetration. The report said, “WhatsApp dominates across all apps surveyed in the study. Given its multifunctionality, ability to use little data, and large network of users, it has become almost essential to Nigerian smartphone users.”
WhatsApp is the most-used social media platform in Nigeria. Statista said the instant messaging app was used by nearly 92% of Nigeria’s internet users as of the third quarter of 2021, ahead of Facebook and Instagram. However, Facebook was the preferred platform for most individuals accessing the news on social media.
In the regional apps category, the top spot is held by Boomplay, a music streaming and download app owned by Transsion Holdings — the makers of Tecno, Infinix & Itel. Ranking second is Jumia, followed by Chinese-owned fintech apps Opay and Palmpay in the third and fourth places, respectively.
A further breakdown shows that Access Bank has the most-used banking app, while Opay has the highest salience in the fintech category. As Nigeria grapples with a cash crunch caused by a botched currency redesign policy, the four-year-old platform has become the go-to fintech app for most Nigerians.
Jumia, Africa’s largest e-commerce platform, is ranked number one in the e-commerce category, just as Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency platform, tops its category.