Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates


This $20 Astro phone runs WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter apps #Mbudzi

Astro Goat
Astro Goat
The Astro Goat. A $20 smartphone that runs WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter

No, that #Mbudzi in the title is not a joke. Astro has actually released one. Mbudzi, for those of you not in Zimbabwe, is Shona vernacular for goat, and generally means a cheap feature-phone in these parts. How the phone was named after the animal I have no idea, and if you do know, please help the rest of us in the comments.

Back to the phone. What totally blew us away today is the price. The phone is retailing for US $20 only. Phones at the price are not a shocker themselves, but that such a phone would run WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter is quite impressive. Munyaradzi Gwatidzo, the Astro founder and CEO, tells us if it hadn’t been for the recent introduction of 25% import duty on mobile phones, they’d have retailed it at $12.

We haven’t held the phone yet, so can’t speak of the experience, but we’re guessing quite basic.  And Astro says that’s actually the point-  “It’s a basic communication phone – you can chat on WhatsApp, chat on Facebook and Tweet. That’s really what it’s meant for. You won’t be able to do downloads and other complex things on this phone,” explained Gwatidzo.

We also haven’t been told yet what OS it is (just that it’s not – Android) but we’re guessing one of those basic Chinese OSes they put on such ultra low-cost devices. In short, don’t expect proper browsing. We expect to get the actual phone tomorrow, so expect a hands-on review afterwards.

The other specs; dual SIM, a flashlight (standard on mbudzis), a 1 mega-pixel camera, 64MB internal memory and Micro SD slot for 8GB. Battery life on standby, according to Astro, is 2 weeks and on active usage a minimum of 4 days. Connectivity is via GPRS so yes, basic. Lite versions of the WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter apps come pre-installed on the phone and you can’t add apps.

Gwatidzo says this is a more deliberate play into feature phones market which they had ignored initially: “We had thought initially that people want smartphones only, but after our research we realised that 80% of the market is using feature phones, so we decided to go back to basics. We don’t want to force people to use technology that they can’t afford.”

Next, he says, they’ll be launching another one in January 2015 which will be priced at around $30 which will be based on Java.


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30 thoughts on “This $20 Astro phone runs WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter apps #Mbudzi

  1. the goat ie #mbudzi comes from the fact dat pple refered to as mbudzi/mbuzi are those abazibhayizelayo especially those from rural areas (SRBs). those who have no style and have a cheap taste, so those economic phones (mbudzis) are meant for them. #note dat this is ma own point of view from the understanding of the term mbudzi

  2. The term mbudzi comes from the cheap price of the device, which is the same price you can buy a goat at a place called kuMbudzi in Harare, close to Boka Tobacco Auction Floors along Simon Mazorodze.

  3. This is quite a good phone especially to the children.I like the fact that it runs basic apps like whatsapp,facebook and tweeter and that it cannot download or add apps.I recommend anyone buying phones for their children to buy this.The other types though good in this era,they have landed a lot of the young generations into trouble.Will be waiting for your review Nigel,thanks

    1. HAHAHAHA – that’s one thing you gotta love about Astro – last cheap phone was called ibho. Now GOAT – that’s brilliant!

  4. These phones have been there at Gulf Complex with prices ranging from 12 to 30$. They are branded with different big brand names but they are not genuinely from those brands. They use JAVA and the whatsapp is very slow. The only up-side with this one maybe the guarantee and the battery life.

  5. Hehehe did i read correct how does a 25% rise in duty lead to a 67% price rise something fishy there?

  6. zita rekuti kafoni aka kambudzi rakabva pamaringtones. kambudzi hkafoni kanorira semachemere anoita mbudzi. kungoti meemeeeeeeee. tufoni utwu twaisapinda mamemory card zvekuti u cld select a ringing yako yesong yaunoda. waitosarudza kudzva munedzemo mufoni anonzi mapolyfonic ringtones. ndokambudzi

  7. So Zimbabwe has now started producing cell phones! As I have said for decades: For Africa to be a serious player on the world market Africa must start utilizing its own resources in a productive way in stead of continuing to supply the world with cheap raw materials and subsequently receive a little compensation in the form of development aid, while buying their own processed raw materials expensively from overseas – e.g. in the form of technology. This circus should stop – and only Africa can stop it. Zim has taken an important step forward. Next step will be cars and IT equipment. Merry X-mas and a happy New Year to Zim from Denmark!

    1. Not produced in Zimbabwe, just branded in Zimbabwe. They are manufactured in China. Not sure its actually a good idea for Zim to produce phones right now.

      1. Forget I review! At $20 I can afford to review it myself. That is…. if it’s available. And where? The Astro website doesn’t even have the phone on it. So I’m wondering where and when this one is available. Perhaps that would complete your article.

  8. the name mbudzi for a phone was coined from the ring tone which one cannot customize on a basic phone eg 1100 as compared to other phones which one can choose the favorite song as their tone

  9. handitenge fone yakadai ini,can’t add apps, can’t download ,its technology going backwards

  10. I saw the mbudzi in Astro shop R. G Mugabe branch (yesterday) on 23 December. It was acually pegged at $15.

  11. i need a phone not sure what type
    what do you request for the monthly payments
    your website is not going thru

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