The smartphone market has been constantly growing for the past few years in Pakistan. Back in the day, there were only a handful of brands that were popular in the country such as Samsung, Apple, and a few devices from QMobile and Nokia’s Lumia series.
Times have changed since then to a point where we now have plenty of new brands with Chinese names dominating the scene. We now have remarkable devices from Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Infinix, Nokia, Motorola, and Huawei, though Huawei’s sales have been declining due to the omission of Google apps and services caused by the US ban.
Here is how Pakistan’s smartphone market has performed over recent years.
Smartphone Market Penetration
For those unaware, market penetration is a measure of how much a product or service is being used in a region.
In terms of smartphones, Pakistan ranked 21 on the list of countries with the most penetration. The numbers do not compare with other countries, but Pakistan’s figure has been steadily increasing over the years. In 2019, we had 32.5 million smartphone users which is only 16% of the total population.
It is not a large number, but it is a slight increase over 2018 figures where we had 14% of the total population using smartphones, which was 28 million people out of the total 200 million. Compared to previous years, this is quite an increase considering we were only at 6.7% in 2017.
Despite the increasing sales, the vast majority of people still use feature phones to this day, which is one of the main reasons behind the lower stats. This is mostly due to the lower buying power of the general populace compared to developed countries.
Top Brands in the Country
The top smartphone brands in the country are no different from before. Samsung is still at the top of the list with a 29% market share, Huawei comes in at 2nd place with 13.9% and Oppo comes very close behind at 13.8%. Despite the rankings being the same as previous years, it is clear that Samsung is losing its footing in the market as it once had around 41% of the share.
As mentioned earlier, several new phone makers have entered the market and have attracted a lot of attention. All of these brands have been gradually chipping away at Samsung’s share. This is because all these Chinese brands including Vivo, Tecno, Oppo, Infinix, etc offer reliable hardware for cheap, which is exactly what the local population looks for.
However, this new competition has forced Samsung to grow its mid-range as well as entry-level lineups. Previously, Samsung’s S series and Note series were all the rage, but we now have A series phones as well as the M lineup. These bring cheap entry-level devices as well as upper mid-range handsets with powerful specs.
We already had the J lineup for cheap phones, but now there is a much bigger variety available of cheaper and better quality phones than before. Thanks to that, Samsung is expected to regain some of its market share in Pakistan in the future with its ever-growing list of affordable phones.
As for sales, Samsung showed a gradual decline throughout 2020 and this is mostly because, as mentioned earlier, due to other brands starting to shake up the competition. Huawei also suffered from a decline, but not nearly as severe as Samsung. The US ban is to blame in this case which resulted in Huawei phones losing Google apps and services, causing sales to plummet not only in Pakistan but in the rest of the world as well.
Oppo’s performance was the opposite in this regard as the brand had slow growth throughout the year and managed to go toe to toe against Huawei in recent months. Oppo is expected to leave Huawei in the dust in 2021 as Huawei’s sales are expected to continue faltering because of the US ban.
Vivo’s figures were impressive as the company was mostly between other names at the bottom of the chart but surprisingly soared upwards by the end of the year, becoming the 4th biggest phone maker in Pakistan.
Overall, smartphone sales have shown a notable increase over the past few years, especially between the 2016-2018 period. Where we once had barely a few million people using smartphones a few years ago, we now have more than 35 million, and the figure is expected to continue increasing rapidly in the future.