Feature phones are set to begin a new era in 2018. To start off the year, many feature phone manufacturers including HMD, Doro, Alcatel, and Reliance Jio, made headlines for their advanced functionalities and affordable plans.
Feature Phones Make a Comeback in MWC
With little groundbreaking innovation in the smartphone segment,, feature phones made a surprise comeback during MWC. Nokia led the charge with their hip 8110 “banana” phone, but Doro also played an important role in the feature phone revival with their 7050, a feature-rich device that targets seniors.
Reliance Jio tops Indian feature phone market
According to a Counterpoint Research report, the Reliance JioPhone tops the Indian feature phone market with 27 percent market share, with Samsung in second place. TechRadar praised the JioPhone for its affordable data plans, as well as 4G enabled features and more significantly is the world’s first feature phone that comes with Google Assistant and has seen a six-fold growth in usage in across the country.
Feature phones are predicted to take over the market
Despite being the fastest growing major smartphone market in the world in 2013, India suffered a decrease in smartphone shipments from over 61 percent to 18 percent in 2015. According to Counterpoint Research, the introduction of 4G and LTE-enabled feature phones to the Indian market hindered the sales of smartphones. Another study from the Mobile Marketing Association and Kantar IMRB found that almost 85 percent of mobile users planned to purchase a feature phone instead of a smartphone for their next phone, as many feature phones now offer easy access to online content.
High-end feature phones are speeding up the slow death of 2G in India
The number of 2G-based Internet subscribers in India had been continuously declining at 3 percent per quarter, on average, before Reliance Jio debuted in the market. After Jio’s entry, the percentage of 2G subscribers has dropped by 40 percent. 4G-enabled feature phones have sped up the decline rate as the 4G data usage increased from under 500 million GB in mid-2016 to 4.5 billion GB in September 2017. Following Reliance Jio’s example, device makers are pushing to allow everybody “to transform from 2G and 3G to 4G” with high-end feature phones and smartphones. According to CyberMedia Research, the number of subscribers expected to be using 2G internet services by the first quarter of 2020 is zero.
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