MTN has done the unthinkable as it introduced the world’s first 3G smart feature phone here at AfricaCom 2018. It’s called a smart feature phone because the phone has qualities of both, the feature phone and the smartphone. In a nutshell, it’s a phone that’s one-part feature phone and one-part smartphone, a first of its kind in the world. The phone which MTN is introducing in partnership with China Mobile, chipmaker Unisoc runs on the KaiOS software, a software that has lately been used on the worlds best-selling feature phone, Jiophone.
Why MTN is introducing a smart feature phone
One may ask, why MTN has chosen to venture into this? MTN says it has 150 million customers that are still using feature phones. So this smart feature could just be the spark (more like a bridge) that will induce many Africans to migrate from feature phones (with only voice and text capabilities) to smartphones (with only voice and text, apps and media capabilities) as they will get a glimpse of the attractive functionalities of what a ‘whole’ smartphone offers.
MTN’s smart feature phone specs
Like I said before, the smart feature phone has both attributes of smartphones and feature phones. Besides its KaiOS software, the phone run apps like; Twitter, Google Maps, Facebook, Google Chrome, YouTube, Google Assistance etc.
The phone also comes with a 2,000mAh battery, which is said to provide up to two weeks of standby time and 2-5 days of life under average usage. Other features are;
- Front and back camera
- Bluetooth capability
- Wifi capability
- GPS connectivity
- 2.4-inch screen
- 256MB RAM
- 512MB of storage.
Why it might succeed and why it might fail
I think where this smart feature phone will win it is its selling price. The phone will sell for a retail price of $20 (Rand 290) which I believe is quite affordable to many people in Africa.
However, people may not be drawn to it because the phone doesn’t yet support the WhatsApp app. And it’s this app that many people in Africa migrated to smartphones because it is cheaper to communicate using it the WhatsApp app). Accordingly, MTN’s smart feature will have to support WhatsApp if its ever to stand a chance to win over people’s hearts. But since this smart feature phone is going to be on the shelves early next year, WhatsApp could, by that time, be supported on it.