Smartphone shipments to the Middle East and Africa region rose 66 per cent during the first quarter of 2015 to reach more than 36m units, a new study by technology consultancy IDC showed.
By the end of this year, smartphone shipments are set to total 155m units, the study added.
Currently almost 63 per cent of all handsets shipped into the Middle East are smartphones while the figure stands at 47 per cent in Africa.
Meanwhile feature phone shipments, down 20 per cent year-on-year in Q1 2015, are set to fall further. IDC estimated that these shipments will only make up 27 per cent of the overall MEA handset market by the end of 2019.
A significant growth was also recorded in handsets which use Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems.
In the Middle East, Android currently represents 80 per cent of the market’s volume while iOS accounts for 17 per cent. In Africa, these figures stand at 89 per cent and seven per cent respectively.
Android is particularly dominant in the low to mid-priced bands while iOS is mainly used in phones at a higher price range, the study said.
BlackBerry devices continued the downward trend, with shipments falling by 29 per cent in the Middle East. The decline was exacerbated by BlackBerry’s loss of the corporate segment and the uptake of the bring-your-own-device trend in the region, IDC said.
The report also noted that the region’s smartphone market was largely buoyed by the emergence of low-priced mobile devices.
Almost half of all the smartphones shipped to Africa in Q1 2015 were priced under $100 while such brands also had an appeal in the Middle East.
“This price bracket seems to be the sweet point for most vendors launching in the region, as well as for established vendors looking to increase their shares by targeting the lower end of the market,” said research manager for IDC’s Mobile Phone Tracker in the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey Nabila Popal.
“This has resulted in phones priced under $200 accounting for about 36 per cent of the Middle East smartphone market, while at the other end of the spectrum the $450+ price band has seen its share fall from 25 per cent in Africa and 48 per cent in the Middle East a year ago, to 14 per cent and 34 per cent today.”
Saudi Arabia and Turkey were the biggest markets in the Middle East with the kingdom accounting for 20 per cent of the region’s share in smartphone shipments.
Samsung, Apple and Huawei made up the top three smart phone vendors in the Middle East, together accounting for over 65 per cent share of the market.