4G Goes Mainstream with Over 1 Billion Smartphones Shipped in 2016


This year, more than any other before, we’ve had the highest number of 4G smartphones launching in the Kenyan market. That has been mainly driven by the availability of 4G network in Kenya’s major towns thanks to Safaricom’s extensive testing of the same countrywide. For as little as Kshs 8,000, one can get a half-decent smartphone that is 4G-ready. Apparently, this is the trend the world over in emerging markets which are seeing a rise in 4G-enabled smartphones from 65% last year to a projected 77%.

According to industry research firm IDC, uptake of 4G-enabled smartphones will rise by 21.3% year over year to reach 1.17 billion units of the 1.45 billion smartphones shipped this year, a significant rise from the 957 million units shipped last year.

Android still rules the roost

Driving the 4G revolution in emerging markets is the host of low-cost Android smartphones that are available and as such this has seen Android cement its position as the leading mobile platform in the world with 85% market share. Of the 1.45 billion smartphone units to be shipped this year, 1.23 billion are running Android, a growth of over 5% year over year.

iOS is counting its losses

iOS’ market share, however, dropped by double digits (11%) indicating few shipments of Apple’s iPhones.

While Apple’s latest devices, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, have been received well by the market, any impact they have had has been taken aback by the losses the platform made in previous quarters.

For every smartphone running Windows shipped in 2016, there were over 200 others running Android

Windows Phone still exists but is mainly a non-story

In case you had forgotten, Windows Phone still exists. While speculation is rife that Microsoft may release new mobile devices on its Windows platform to complement its efforts in the desktop, console and mixed reality fields, there has only been one high profile Windows mobile device release this year and it is not even from Microsoft. The HP Elite X3 which is not targeted at the everyday smartphone user takes up the platform leadership normally reserved for Microsoft’s own high-end Lumia devices like the Lumia 930.

However, since budget Microsoft Lumia smartphones are still worth a second look even as users migrate to cheap 4G Android smartphones, a total of over 6 million managed to be shipped in 2016, coming ahead of devices from BlackBerry (the non-Android ones). Still, that was nowhere near the place the Microsoft-backed platform held last year. By far. -79% to be exact. And according to the IDC, things won’t even look up for the platform in the next 4 years unless something big and positive happens.