The MTN group has partnered with China Mobile, chipmaker Unisoc and feature phoneoperating system, KaiOS, to bring affordable 3G ‘smart feature phones’ to the African market in the first few months of 2019.
MTN group CEO and president Rob Shuter made the announcement at a press briefing at AfricaCom in Cape Town today, along with executives from the partner groups.
“Our collaboration has been to design the world’s first 3G smart feature phone,” Shuter said, showing off the phone.
Shuter said the group aims to make the phones available across almost all of its operations in Africa and the Middle East from the first quarter of 2019. The 3G smart feature phone will initially be available in Nigeria and South Africa, followed very shortly by the other MTN operations. The telco aims to sell 10 million devices over the next three years.
“This device is very familiar to our 150 million customers who are not yet on a smartphone. It has a keyboard, it doesn’t have a touch-screen, and a very long battery life, which is important for many of our customers that still struggle with regular recharging of devices,” he added.
The phone will run the KaiOS operating system, which means it will have all of the key Google applications, including search, Google Maps, Google Assistance and YouTube, as well as Facebook and Twitter. MTN will also pre-load the MTN Mobile Money app onto the phone “bringing MTN customers into the world of mobile financial services” and the MyMTN self-service app.