Smartphone shipments to Middle East and Africa are set to reach 155 million units in 2015 after increasing 66 per cent year-on-year during the first quarter to cross 36 million units, according to latest figures.
Global technology consulting firm International Data Corporation (IDC)'s 'Q1 2015 Mobile Phone Tracker' today showed that smartphones accounted for 63 per cent of the handsets shipped in the Middle East during the quarter and 47 per cent in Africa.
This comes at the expense of feature phones, which suffered year-on-year declines of around 20 per cent in both the regions and will make up just 27 per cent of the overall Middle East and Africa (MEA) handset market by 2019-end.
The growth in smartphones in the MEA region is being spurred by Google's Android and Apple's iOS, with the two platforms accounting for over 95 per cent of the smartphones shipped in Q1 2015.
Shipments of devices featuring these operating systems increased by a combined 67 per cent year-on-year. In the Middle East, Android currently represents 80 percent of market's volume, while iOS accounts for 17 per cent; in Africa, these figures stand at 89 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively.
Android is particularly dominant in the low to mid-priced bands, while iOS is mainly found in the USD 450+ category. BlackBerry once again suffered significant year-on-year declines across the region in Q1 2015, with the vendor's shipments falling 14 per cent in Africa and 29 per cent in the Middle East.
The strong growth in the region's smartphone market is largely being driven by the emergence of low-priced devices that are primarily powered by Android. Almost half of all the smartphones shipped across Africa (45.1 per cent) in Q1 2015 were priced below USD 100, while almost 75 per cent fall under USD 200.
Low-priced smartphones are also having a considerable impact in the Middle East, with the USD 100-200 price band accounting for the market's biggest share. Nigeria and South Africa contributed significantly to the overall growth seen in Africa, with the countries experiencing year-on-year growth of 135 per cent and 56 per cent each.
Nigeria accounted for 14 per cent of all smartphone shipments across the continent during Q1 2015, while South Africa was responsible for 12 per cent. Samsung, Tecno, and Applewere the leading smartphone vendors in Africa during the quarter, with Huawei being ousted from the top three, accounting for a combined 55 per cent share of Africa's smartphone shipments in Q1 2015.
For the Middle East region, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were the biggest markets, with the former accounting for share of around 20 per cent and the latter for 17.6 per cent.
The region's fastest growth rate in Q1 2015 was seen in Pakistan, where shipments increased 123 per cent year on year. Samsung, Apple, and Huawei made up the top three smartphone vendors in the Middle East, together accounting for over 65 per cent share of the market.