April 16, 2021

The feature phone market is dying and Samsung might be fine with it

Samsung’s been losing ground in the feature phone segment and the company has lost 2% global market share in Q4 2020 compared to the previous quarter. Then again, the feature phone market means very little for Samsung in terms of revenue, especially compared to the full-fledged smartphone segment.

It’s only a matter of time before feature phones will be phased out as more emerging markets jump on the smartphone bandwagon, and in a way, Samsung appears to be content with the way things are going.

The global feature phone market has experienced a massive 24% year-on-year decline in Q4 2020. For the time being, however, Samsung remains one of the main players in the feature phone segment, though rivals including iTel, HMD Global, and Tecno have a bigger presence.

Samsung was the fourth-largest feature phone vendor in Q4 2020 with an 8% global market share (in terms of shipments), down from 10% in the previous quarter. In contrast, Tecno, HMD Global, and iTel have captured 10%, 17%, and 22% of the market, respectively.

India was Samsung’s biggest feature phone market in Q4 2020

According to Counterpoint Research, Samsung’s biggest feature phone market in Q4 2020 was by far India. There, the company was able to reach the podium on 2nd place with an 18% market share. The feature phone segment in India was led by iTel with 20% and Samsung was followed by Lava with a market share of 15%.

Aside from India, Samsung was only able to break into the top 5 list of feature phone brands in the MEA region, where it recorded a 1% market share in Q4, down from 2% in Q3. Samsung wasn’t as successful in regions such as LATAM, Europe, North America, and the rest of Asia, where the company has failed to reach top 5.

Samsung’s presence in the feature phone segment is clearly waning but that’s partly because the feature phone market itself is shrinking. In most cases, Samsung is selling feature phones as a way to keep brand awareness alive for customers who will eventually become smartphone owners. And in most markets, this strategy appears to have run its course.

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