Chinese smartphone brand Tecno makes SA debut

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 09 Mar 2020
The flagship Android-powered Tecno Camon 12 retails at R2 999 on Tekealot.
The flagship Android-powered Tecno Camon 12 retails at R2 999 on Tekealot.

Another Chinese smartphone brand, Tecno, has descended on the South African market.

In a statement, Transsion, Tecno’s parent company, says after a long wait since 2008, Tecno Mobile will finally make its way to South African shores.

According to the company, South African consumers can purchase Tecno smartphones from major retail stores and online outlets that include Hi, Mr Price, and

The flagship Android-powered Tecno Camon 12 retails at R2 999 on Takealot.

While market saturation and US-China tensions are placing the global smartphone market under intense pressure, recent research from International Data Corporation (IDC) shows the African smartphone market saw shipments increase 4% quarter-on-quarter in Q3 2019 to total 22.6 million units.

It says the growth in the smartphone space was spurred by the strong performance of the three biggest markets in Africa – Nigeria, SA and Egypt.

According to IDC, this was largely driven by the huge influx of affordable models that have recently been launched in these markets, while the relative stability of the Nigerian naira and appreciation of the Egyptian pound also helped stir an increase in consumer demand.

The market research firm says Transsion brands (Tecno, Infinix, and Itel) continued to lead the feature phone space in Q3 2019, with a combined unit share of 64%. Nokia was next in line with 10% share.

In the smartphone space, IDC says, Transsion (36.2%), Samsung (23.9%), and Huawei (11.4%) led the way in unit terms; however, in value terms, Samsung was the clear leader with 33.2% share, followed by Transsion (22.4%) and Huawei (15.6%).

Tecno’s entrance into the South African market comes about three months after another Chinese smartphone maker, Vivo, opened shop in the country.

In SA, the Tecno smartphone brand enters a saturated market, with brands like Huawei, Xiaomi and Samsung already dominating. The Mara Group recently opened its smartphone manufacturing plant in Durban to produce its Mara X and Mara Z phones locally.

“As Tecno Mobile, bridging the digital divide has always been at the core of our business,” says Jasper Zhan, head of go-to-market strategy and marketing for Transsion’s subsidiary company in SA.

“We believe in delivering devices that allow our consumers to enjoy the benefits of a smartphone without compromising on quality, connectivity, access to the Internet or breaking the bank. Affordability for our consumers is key for us to ensure the African market has access to smartphones. As a mobile phone manufacturer, we have ensured the African market enjoys affordable premium smartphones,” Zhan says.

Specs: Tecno Camon 12

Display: 6.52-inch 720 x 1 600 pixels HD+ display
Camera: 16MP + 2MP + 8MP Main/ 16MP front
Storage: 64GB
CPU: Octa-core 2.0GHz, Mediatek Helio P22
OS: Android 9.0 (Pie)

The company notes that although a limited range of Tecno Mobile devices has been available in South Africa since 2019, with the official launch last week, a wider range of Tecno mobile devices will now be available to the South African market.

SA joins Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and India as the first market recipients of the Camon series smartphones.

The company claims devices are a first for Tecno that focus on overall camera and selfie experience.

“Transsion has sold over 124 million mobile phones globally. Tecno Mobile devices have been well received on the continent since we shifted our market entirely to Africa in 2008,” says Yudi Rambaran, head of sales for Transsion’s subsidiary company in SA.

“It only makes sense for South Africa as the most progressive country in Africa to also enjoy the same benefits as the rest of the continent. We have had several requests from the South African mass market for access to our smartphones and we can now proudly say we have listened and delivered to the people of South Africa.”