Smartphone prices – South Africa vs The World

South Africans pay substantially more for smartphones than the devices’ global recommended retail prices.

While a higher price tag makes sense when one takes into account import taxes and other expenses, the magnitude of this disparity places a significant amount of pressure on local buyers’ wallets.

Given that smartphone prices have increased substantially over the past few years, these additional costs faced by South Africans result in premium smartphones being an incredibly large expense for local buyers.

Mid-range smartphones

To serve customers who are unwilling to pay for premium smartphones, leading smartphone makers have placed an increased focus on bringing mid-range smartphones with impressive capabilities to South Africans.

These include the Samsung Galaxy A series, the Sony Xperia 10, the Nokia 6.1, and various Huawei smartphones such as the P30 Lite and the Y9 2019.

These smartphones generally cost between R4,000 and R7,000. This is still a substantial amount of money, but it is far less than the cost of premium smartphones in South Africa.

AppleDoctor MD Sean Joffe previously told MyBroadband that mid-range smartphones “massively outsell” flagship phones in South Africa.

“Consumers are no longer willing to just splash out to acquire the latest and greatest, as the cost benefit simply no longer makes sense,” said Joffe.

Megan Quy, marketing manager at WeFix, agreed with this assessment, stating that WeFix has noticed similar trends.

“There is a new market emerging as more and more people become employed and want an efficient smartphone with good specs, but don’t wish to spend their salary on it,” said Quy.

A massive disparity

Despite the growing mid-range market, many South Africans still want premium smartphones.

There is a significant difference between what these people pay and how these devices are priced globally – particularly when it comes to iPhones.

South Africans who buy iPhones locally are paying 25-30% more than the global recommended retail price for most new iPhones.

In comparison, South African Note 10 owners have spent 15-25% more than their global counterparts, while Huawei’s South African markup is notably less predictable.

The South African mark-up on the global recommended retail prices of premium smartphones is outlined below.

The exchange rate used was R2.10 per Chinese RMB, and R14.94 per dollar – both of which were accurate at the time of writing.

Smartphone pricing – SA vs Global
Smartphone Global price (excl VAT) Global price (in rand, incl VAT) SA price Price increase in SA
iPhone 11 64GB $699 R12,009.14 R14,999 24.90%
iPhone 11 128GB $749 R12,865.32 R16,799 30.58%
iPhone 11 256GB $849 R14,582.98 R18,999 30.28%
iPhone 11 Pro $999 R17,159.01 R21,999 28.21%
iPhone 11 Pro Max $1,099 R18,876.62 R23,999 27.14%
Huawei P30 4288 Yuan (8GB) R10,378.12 (8GB) R13,999 (6GB) 34.88%
Huawei P30 Pro 5988 Yuan R14,494.12 R16,499 13.83%
Galaxy Note 10 $950 R16,312.23 R18,999 16.47%
Galaxy Note 10+ $1,100 R18,887.85 R22,999 21.77%

Now read: The amazing Huawei smartphone you can’t buy in South Africa – Hands-on

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Smartphone prices – South Africa vs The World