If there’s anything the last few weeks have shown us here at Techweez then it is that budget smartphones are the kings of the Kenyan mobile market. We have every brand imaginable angling for a share of the pie. Mobile operator Safaricom has shocked many with record sales of its modestly priced Neon smartphone. Samsung still leads the pack with its Galaxy J1 that has cannibalized sales of entry level smartphones. Newcomers like Fly also want a share of the pie and have their own very fairly priced Thunder 3. Then there’s Tecno, Infinix, Huawei… the list is long.
The low down is that for the consumer shopping for a smartphone that won’t break the bank but still guarantee them access to the information superhighway and a wide variety of applications, they are spoilt for choice. It is easy to see why over 160,000 units of these budget smartphones are sold monthly with potential for more.
Here’s our brief listing of smartphones under Ksh 10,000 in Kenya at the moment:
Note: Specific prices of the devices have not been explicitly quoted but thanks to our research, these devices are all retailing below Ksh 10,000. The prices may vary depending on where you shop.
Fly entered the Kenyan market by storm during the Jumia Mobile Week Megathon. While the Eclipse 3 that we didn’t like that much neither did we dislike is no longer available at a price below Ksh 10,000, it’s siblings the Iris and the Thunder 3 are available well below that figure. While they could be discounted at the moment, they’ll still for less than Ksh 10,000 at full price.
1. Fly Thunder 3 (IQ4415)
2. Fly Iris (IQ4400)
It is hard to see brands like HTC offering insanely cheap smartphones yet with its Desire smartphone lineup HTC has been known to get off its high horse and offer something that ordinary Joe can go for if they can’t afford $600 or more for its flagship One smartphone lineup.
3. HTC Desire 210
The Desire 210 may not have specs any better than those you’ll find on other brands not as widely known as the Taiwan phone maker’s but since we heavily advise going for the known over the unknown, the Desire 210 is worth a look. It’s elderly sibling, the Desire 310 just missed our list by an inch. It is a few hundred shillings above the scope of our article but is definitely worth a look as well.
Huawei can be said to be more of a pioneer in the world of smartphones than any other brand in Kenya. Low cost smartphones that is. While the company has failed to replicate the success of the popular U8150 IDEOS that catapulted it to the top of smartphone sales charts in Kenya thanks to a successful partnership with Safaricom, it hasn’t given up on the Kenyan market.
Some of the devices Huawei has to offer in the entry level smartphone category like the Ascend Y511 are absolute lookers and while the specifications are nothing to write home about (ain’t every smartphone on this list like that anyway?), you get just as much bang for your buck as you expected and nothing more.
4. Huawei Ascend Y220
5. Huawei Ascend Y330
6. Huawei Ascend Y520
7. Huawei Ascend Y550 LTE
This happens to be the only LTE-capable smartphone on this list so if you want to take advantage of Safaricom’s expanding LTE coverage without spending money you don’t have then this is a good place to start.
8. Infinix Hot
The Infinix Hot X507 is a lone ranger this time round thanks to its larger sibling, the Hot Note, moving beyond the scope of this article. It now costs more thank Ksh 10,000. The responsible people point to the falling Kenyan shilling as being behind the change in pricing.
The X507 is infamous for its terrible battery life but is large and looks good. While those good looks won’t text your girlfriend when it drops dead in the middle of the day and you’re far away from a wall socket or a USB port to plug in, they don’t hurt either. It is also famous for being out of stock more often on Jumia where it is available exclusively so good luck getting it if you are interested in it. The other smartphones on this list may be a good option. Or consider adding just a few hundred shillings and get the Hot Note which won’t disappoint when it comes to battery life.
Microsoft’s expansive Lumia lineup makes for an interesting proposition to anyone keen on getting value for money. In fact it is what I’d mostly advocate for on this list despite my well known bias for Android devices.
The Lumia 430 is Microsoft’s latest kid on the block and is the cheapest Lumia out there. While Microsoft cut so many corners to justify the affordable pricing, the Lumia 430 is one of very few entry level smartphones that will give you what others won’t: critical updates. I’ve bemoaned budget smartphones and their lack of updates for long but Microsoft has something nice going on. The Lumia 430 will get Windows 10 Mobile as soon as it is available on other Lumia devices. Good luck getting Android M on your [insert cheap Android device name here]. Hang around for our review of the Lumia 430 soon.
This is the guest who doesn’t know when to leave. Or let’s just say it is because he/she is very much loved. The Lumia 520 broke all the records that could be broken and remains Microsoft’s bestseller overall but it has aged and Redmond has moved to replace it. It has done so several times without striking the right chords. It’s latest attempt, the Lumia 540 is a decent device and we believe it will fill the large shoes the 520 is leaving behind.
While its successor the 535 came to take its place and wright a few wrongs, it still exists.
Recommended read: Differences between Lumia 530 and Lumia 535
This is the latest cheap smartphone in the Kenyan market and is arguably the cheapest. We’ve interacted briefly with it and it is not a bad device either. You can look forward to our in-depth review in coming days. It has the distinction of not only being the cheapest smartphone in the Kenyan market at the moment but also the only Firefox OS smartphone in the Kenyan market. Being the pioneer Firefox OS smartphone in the East African region, it has quite some ground to cover. Buoyed by the success of its feature phone, the Kaduda, Orange Kenya believes the Klif will live up to the hype. We’re waiting to see if that will happen. If you’re the ambitious type and want to try out something that is not Windows Phone or the more common Android that is insanely cheap then the Klif is a great place to start.
13. Safaricom Neon Smartphone
Safaricom’s Neon smartphone has nothing exciting going for it but the price. It is one of the cheapest Android smartphones on the Kenyan mobile market and it capitalizes on the platform afforded to it by its parent company to appeal to many Kenyans. Kenyans are very price-conscious and the Neon’s success is testament to this. It is doing what the Intel YOLO smartphone failed to do. With the Safaricom Open Day being extended for another week, it may be able to ward off the threat posed by the Orange Klif for quite some time.
The Only Galaxy
14. Samsung Galaxy Star 2 Plus
Samsung is not known for packing great specs on cheap smartphones. They reserve those for their more expensive smartphones and with Samsung being, well, Samsung, they’ve managed to get away with it. The Galaxy Star 2 Plus is a good example. But we are not complaining. I mean, we have seen worse. Like the deadwood that was the Galaxy S3 Lite. If you desire a cheap Samsung Galaxy, this is your only choice. Well, unless you are great at bargaining and can get a serious discount on the Galaxy J1.
You won’t get the great cameras you will get on high end Sony Xperias but you’re being recruited into the Sony Xperia cult and if you don’t mind the lowly specs, the price isn’t too high to pay for a good experience.
15. Sony Xperia E Dual
16. Sony Xperia E1 Dual
The Tecno brand in Kenya draws lots of mixed reactions. While those who hate it hate it with a passion, they tend to overlook one fact and that is that Tecno is here to stay. Tecno may even be assembling its smartphones here in Kenya soon if things go as planned. The Chinese brand that now boasts of deep African roots is not going anywhere anytime soon. Not only has Tecno branched out to Windows with the new WinPad 10 tablet but Windows 10 mobile smartphones may not be a long way off.
The Tecnos on this list may not excite the specheads who will likely appear in the comments section but for the price they are going for, they aren’t that bad either though I would advise that if you can say afford the Tecno H6 which goes for a flat Kshs 10,000 then you may want to add a few more shillings and get the Boom J7 which, in my opinion, is the best affordable Tecno smartphone in the Kenyan market.
17. Tecno M3
18. Tecno H5
19. Tecno H3
20. Tecno Y4
21. Tecno P5+
22. Tecno H6
There isn’t much to write home about the Wikos. They are simply there and while these three may not be as good looking as the midrange Getaway which is way beyond the scope of this article, they ain’t ugly either. It’s just that if you have a beautiful sister and you don’t match up, you’ll forever live in her shadow since she happens to be the benchmark.
23. Wiko Goa
24. Wiko Lenny
25. Wiko Sunset
If you are keen on spending more than Ksh 10,000 then this may be a good place to start.