Kenya has launched $50 locally assembled smartphones

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Kenyan smartphones, Neon Smarta and Neon Ultra, will be locally assembled and sold by telcos Safaricom and Faiba. 

Kenya has launched Neon Smarta, and Neon Ultra, two locally assembled smartphones, and the devices are now available to customers at a retail price of $50 (KES 7,500), $10 above its earlier proposed price. The smartphones were developed through a joint venture between Safaricom and Faiba, along with the assembly partner, East Africa Device Assembly Kenya Limited (EADAK). 

“This assembly plant will support the government’s agenda to enhance digital inclusion in the country. We have been able to achieve affordability through a collaborative approach that comprises industry partnership and favourable government policies,” Joshua Chepkwony, chairman of EADAK, said.

With an expected production volume of 21,000 phones monthly, the smartphones are a part of the government’s digital literacy program, which has trained 300,000 people in 2023. Part of a broader digital transformation agenda will also see the government expand fiber connectivity to previously inaccessible areas. 

Low-cost smartphones are not entirely new to Kenyans. Safaricom has for a long time sold budget devices, including Neon smartphones. A few weeks ago, the Neon Smarta and Neon Ultra appeared on Safaricom’s e-commerce platform, Masoko, at KES 7,000 ($47) and KES 11,000 ($73) respectively. These are the same devices launched today but cost an extra KES 500 ($3.3). 

The Smarta is the smaller of the duo at 5 inches, compared to the Ultra’s 6.5-inch display. Both have 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB internal storage, and support 4G. Customers who buy a unit from Safaricom will get a single SIM variant because the telco does not sell dual-SIM devices.

HMD Global, which manufactures Nokia-branded devices, had also promised to start assembling its devices in Kenya to address high smartphone prices. However, TechCabal could not get any updates about the launch from HMD Global, Nairobi.

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