MTN had high hopes for its super-cheap R249 phone - so far, fewer than 90,000 have been sold in SA

Business Insider International
smart S
The MTN Smart S phone.
  • MTN started selling its new super-cheap "smeature phone" in April this year.
  • The company reportedly hoped to sell two million of these phones this year - but so far it has only shifted 281,000.
  • Only 87,000 of these were sold in South Africa.
  • For more stories, go to

After MTN reportedly aimed to sell at least two million of its new R249 phones this year, it looks as if sales got off to a slow start.

Since its launch in April in South Africa, only 87,000 of the new phones were sold locally. In total, including other African countries, 281,00 Smart S phones were sold, the company confirmed in a recent results presentation

However an MTN spokesperson told Business Insider that the company is "delighted with the performance of this MTN-created product".

"Our customers love the value, in that they are getting the smart phone experience of WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube, but at a feature phone price. We are confident the Smart S will remain a growing favourite at just R249,”

MTN calls it a “smeature phone” – a mixture between a feature phone (a very basic phone that can access the internet and play music) and a smartphone (performs like a computer, with an operating system that can download apps).

The Smart S, which was produced by China Mobile, comes preloaded with MTN’s music and mobile money apps. Users can access YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, and it runs on the Android operation system, according to the MTN website.

For the first six months, owners get 100MB of data per month and 1GB of WhatsApp bundles, valid for 20 days at a time. Local SMSs cost 50c each and the call rate is 79c a minute.

MTN hoped to sell between two and three million of the phones this year,  CEO Rob Shuter previously told ITWeb. It is aiming to sell 10 million devices over the next three years.

The phones were launched in South Africa in April, after delays in getting the first shipment through customs.

Judging from comments on MTN’s social platforms and the consumer platform Hello Peter, some new owners have been struggling with the WhatsApp functionality, as well as its limited storage capacity (it only offers 512MB).

But it has an impressive battery life of 2,000 milliampere hour (mAh)  – compared to the iPhone XS, which has a 2,658 mAh battery but costs around R24,000.

Its screen is only 2.4 inch (6cm), though – less than half the size of most smartphones on the market.

The phone is currently out of stock on the MTN website, but the company confirmed that it is still available at MTN stores as well as at shops like Ackermans, Clicks, Mr Price, Pep, Foschini, Pick ’n Pay, Truworths and Woolworths.

Read: More than 13 million new smartphones were sold in South Africa last year – and almost two-thirds cost less than R1,500

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