MTNs New Featurephone Costs R300 And Can Access WhatsApp. Game Changer

Farai Mudzingwa Avatar

MTN has reportedly started rolling out their smart-feature phone which is aptly named Smart S 3G across Africa. The phone was announced back in 2018 at AfricaCom and after playing with the phone for a few minutes after the announcement I think this phone will be a big hit for people buying low-cost entry-level phones.

What does this Jio look-alike offer?

What’s especially great about the Smart S 3G is that it will only cost $20 but it will still offer WhatsApp and a respectable OS in Kai OS. Though Kai OS still doesn’t support WhatsApp certain devices like the popular Jio phone and MTN’s Smart S 3G will support the popular messaging app. MTNs smart-feature phone will also support some of the following cool features:

  • Google Assistant
  • YouTube
  • Wi-Fi capable
  • GPS capability
  • 2 000 mAh battery
  • Micro-SD card support (32Gb)

In our initial article regarding this phone, we felt the $20 price was fantastic but at that time the phone wasn’t slated to have WhatsApp support and we felt that would be a dealbreaker for African markets because WhatsApp is hugely popular in these parts of the world. Now that the phone will support WhatsApp I can see these being very competitive and if MTN can sell the Smart S 3G as Jio network does in India they could have a hit on their hands.

The Jio Phone was launched back in 2017 and since Jio is a mobile network operator they sold the phone at a low cost (around $21) that would be refundable after 3 years on the Jio Network. The assumption is that if a customer has spent that long on the network they’ve already given the network more than $21 dollars and thus it’s not so improbable that Jio would adopt this interesting business model.

Other use cases

Anyway Jio phone and Indian market aside, the Smart S 3G from MTN is also a great phone for people who want to get their kids their first phone but are not comfortable with getting them a full-fledged smartphone. The limits of the smart-feature phone also makes it easier to learn and for the older citizens who don’t want to acclimatize to a smartphone and the touch screen, this is another option. The use-cases just don’t seem to end because many people have two phones and one “kambudzi” and this seems like a perfect mbudzi to me.


  1. Sly

    When does it come to Zimbabwe?

    1. Farai Mudzingwa

      I don’t think that’s coming to Zim anytime soon officially. They’ll probably be selling it in countries where MTN is present.

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