Transsion, the Chinese “king” of smartphones in Africa

So what is Transsion, this Chinese group that will enter the top 5 of the world’s largest smartphone suppliers in 2023, behind Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi and Oppo? Unknown in Western countries and even in China, where it does not sell any phones, the company, based in Shenzhen, in the south of China, has built its success discreetly thanks to African consumers. In 2017, nine years after marketing its very first device in Nigeria, it dethroned Samsung to establish itself as the number one mobile phone on the continent.

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With its rapidly growing and increasingly connected population, Africa is whetting the appetite of Chinese technology players. While Huawei and ZTE are at the forefront in the supply of network equipment, Transsion now holds more than 40% of the African smartphone market and even more than 70% in the basic telephone segment.

From Lagos to Dar es Salaam via Kinshasa, it is impossible to escape its three brands, Tecno, Infinix and Itel, whose logos invariably adorn the retailers’ stalls. “Transsion invested very early in distribution channels and was very accessible in urban and rural areas”explains Ramazan Yavuz, analyst for the American firm IDC.

Adapted functionalities

A land use strategy coupled with a research and development effort to offer African users functionalities adapted to their needs. Transsion’s phones were the first to offer multiple SIM card slots, so you could easily change operator based on promotional offers and network coverage. The drums are particularly durable and the keyboards have integrated African languages ​​such as Amharic, spoken in Ethiopia, or even Swahili and Hausa.

Above all, the manufacturer offers unbeatable value for money, in particular thanks to Itel, its entry-level brand. An essential argument in sub-Saharan Africa, where the cost of the cheapest devices allowing access to the Internet represents on average 25% of consumers’ monthly income, according to GSMA, the international association of telecom operators.

However, the company does not wish to remain confined to the status of a low-cost manufacturer, Mr. Yavuz points out: “Its product portfolio is moving towards higher price ranges in Africa”, located between 100 and 200 dollars (from 91 to 182 euros). Its first foldable smartphone was launched in February 2023.

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