Johannesburg - A new player in the smartphone industry has quietly pushed 360 000 mobile phones into Africa since October, 60% of them into South Africa.
Affordable tier three, UK-based brand STK, which since 1993 was focused primarily as an official device accessory manufacturer for brands such as Motorola and Nokia which were popular at the time, has recently ventured into the feature phone and smartphone space.
STK has since opened numerous offices around the world, including a manufacturing plant in China, while all designs and marketing for products are still done in the UK.
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Bryan Mansfield, global mobile head of sales for STK, told Fin24 that the company is looking to become the number-one tier two smartphone brand in South Africa.
South African-birthed smartphone producer AG Mobile was recently iquidated.
AG Mobile was one of very few South African smartphone brands that managed to enter the market at a low-cost level. Devices were sold through mobile network operators, and the majority through clothing retailer Pep.
Since AG Mobile removed itself from the local market, STK has been making strides in the feature phone and entry level smartphone space.
Mansfield said the company has three strategic marketing points: its devices are designed in the UK; STK Care offers software unique to the brand; and there is a three-year warranty on all devices.
“We offer a three-year warranty because we are confident in our devices and STK Care helps us ensure that devices remain at optimal performance,” Mansfield said.
STK Care uses algorithms to detect when phones are experiencing issues, from screen problems and battery faults to software problems.
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“STK Care allows the company to detect issues on phones so when a customer experiences an issue with their smartphone, we are able to detect what issue the device experiences and check it in to resolve that specific issue,” Mansfield told Fin24.
STK mobile phones in South Africa range from around R169 for a feature phone to R1 699 for a mid-range smartphone which includes functionality akin to a premium smartphone of about two to three years ago, with features like an 8 megapixel camera, 5 megapixel facing camera and the Android Marshmallow operating system.
“What we have noticed is a new trend of people having a smartphone and feature phone, so we are packaging a smartphone and an entry level phone together which would cost less than R1 000,” Mansfield said.
He added that the company was looking to sell 1 million devices by the end of 2017.
The STK smartphone range coming to South Africa is expected to include the SYNC 5E, SYNC 5Z Plus, SYNC 5Z, LIFE 5 and STORM 2E PLUZ.