Look around you at the phones that West Africans are using today. Gone are the Nokia of yesteryear. Now, everyone seems to be using smartphones, and almost always Android.
Why is Android so popular in West Africa? Why hasn't Apple cornered the biggest chunk of the smartphone market, like in Europe and North America?
We're here to find out.
We want to investigate exactly why Android is so popular among everyday Africans. What caused the market dominance of Android phones?
Wondering why everyone is using Android? Then you'll need to read on.
They are Cheap
First and foremost, Android smartphones are a cheap solution to a modern problem. If you want to get ahead in the modern world, being constantly connected is massively important.
Whether you're a jobseeker, a businessman, or an engineer, being available for contact is paramount.
When the iPhone launched, it was far too expensive for most people to buy. Despite recently cut production costs, the iPhone is still too expensive for a large chunk of the population.
If you want, you can buy a Leagoo phone for just under 50 USD. That's affordable, even on a low wage. Due to lower wages, many people in West Africa said they consider price first when buying a smartphone.
It is Open Source
If you want to tinker with the Android operating system, then you can happily do so. Customization of the OS, creation of apps, and uploading these apps to Google Play, are all easier on Android than iOS.
This encourages local programmers to work on Android, rather than iOS, as they don't have to pay licensing fees.
The software market in West Africa is large, and Android makes a natural partner for this. Just as Linux has a lot to offer African developers, so does Android. It's a way to sharpen skills, make some money, and potentially, become rich.
Androids Often Have Better Battery Life
If you live in area that doesn't always have electricity, battery life is crucial. Androids best iPhones here.
While iPhones are stricter in what apps can run in the background, Android phones do mostly have better battery life than their Apple rivals. They also often come bundled with fast chargers, which allow for much quicker charging times.
In rural areas, battery life is perhaps the most important feature for staying connected. If that is what you need, then you'll need an Android phone. The iPhone's shorter battery life is fine for the city, but that's all.
Androids Offer Far Better Navigation as Standard
If you want to use your phone as a GPS, chances are, you'll want to use Google Maps. While Apple Maps is improving all the time, it still lags behind Google Maps.
For example, do you want to use your navigation app to get directions for public transport? If you're on Apple Maps, you're out of luck. The app only offers detailed public transit directions in 17 countries.
On Google Maps, you get access to thousands of different cities and towns' transit networks, at the touch of a button.
While you can install Google Maps on iPhone, it is an irritating additional step. It is also beyond the reach of some users, particularly older people. For ease of use, Android absolutely dominates the smartphone market when it comes to navigation.
A Greater Choice of Apps
The open-source software that underpins Android allows for an abundance of apps. There are around 2.47 million apps on Google Play. In contrast, the App Store offers just 1.8 million.
While the App Store does have a lot to offer consumers, it's lacking in hyper-local apps. Many West African businesses offer apps of their own, as do some cities, such as Lagos.
The ease of Android development promotes a healthier business environment, with greater choice for the consumer.
This greater choice is immediately evident when comparing search results from the stores. Apple's own apps often appear first in search results, which some have seen as an unfair advantage. By contrast, searching for software on Google Play gives you a much larger immediate selection to choose from.
Better Hardware Connectivity
When Apple did away with the headphone jack, there was uproar, and justifiably so.
Countless millions of people use wired headphones every single day to enjoy podcasts and music. Those who have bought iPhones since the iPhone 7 have had to spend far more money on hardware than Android users.
If you want, you can buy a dirt cheap headset, and plug it into an Android phone. You don't have that choice with an iPhone.
It's not only headphone jacks that are symbolic of this problem with Apple's design philosophy. It's lightning, too.
Lightning cables are expensive and break easily. They're also only able to be used with Apple products.
The latest Androids use USB-C, which offers fast data transfer and charging, but can be widely used on a huge range of hardware. The cables are far more common and cheap to purchase. It's a much more user-friendly experience.
The Android Smartphone Market Offers Far Greater Choice
You cannot even begin to count the number of different Android phones on the market today. From ultra-cheap phones to the latest Samsung phones, there are thousands of different devices. There are just three iPhone 11 models.
Whatever you need an Android phone for, you can find a model that fits those needs. You don't need to shell out for superfluous features you don't need. You don't have to go with a model because it's the only one available.
Instead, you can choose from a dizzying range at your local phone store. You're in control, from the very beginning.
Android phones dominate the smartphone market in West Africa for three key reasons.
One, they offer cheap access to the latest technology. Two, they're rich with customization options. And three, because they are easy to use.
If Apple truly wish to catch up with Android in West Africa, they need to embrace this trio of factors.
However, we doubt that you're going to see a budget iPhone on sale in the near future.