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Top 12 phone brands in Nigeria by number of approved devices in the market

The Nigerian mobile phone market continues to attract device manufacturers from across the globe thanks to the large and mobile-centric population of the country. 

Year after year, the number of phones sold in Nigeria is increasing as the country moves to bridge the digital gap. 

According to the global research firm Counterpoint, smartphone sales in Nigeria grew by 81% YoY in 2021, driven by pent-up demand and the entry of new Chinese Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). 

  • With active subscriptions for mobile services growing by over 10 million this year as per data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), more phones may have been sold in Nigeria this year despite the economic hardship. 
  • The high demand for phones in Nigeria has, however, created a vibrant market for the sellers of counterfeit and substandard phones. The NCC has repeatedly warned that such phones could be detrimental to users’ health and also affect the quality of the network the users get. 
  • Meanwhile, the used phones market is also booming, with tons of used phones from the UK, the US, and other countries finding their way into the Nigerian market. 
  • This has seen the telecoms regulator raiding some shops to arrest some sellers of phones that have not passed through its type-approval processes. 
  • According to the NCC, as of November this year, 1,891 phones have been approved for the Nigerian market. The devices, which are of different brands and models, have been tested by the NCC and have met the applicable type approval standards required for them to be sold to consumers in Nigeria. 
  • These approvals give a fair idea of the number of phone models sold in Nigeria and which brand has the highest number of phones in the market. Nairametrics took a look at the NCC’s approval database. Highlighted below are the top 10 phone brands in Nigeria by the number of their phones approved so far.

12. iPhone (24 models) 

Apple’s iPhones are not as commonly used by Nigerians as other brands because of their price. But many Nigerians who want to ‘belong’ and cannot afford a new iPhone are going for the foreign-used versions of it. 

That notwithstanding, most iPhone models have secured regulatory approvals to be sold in Nigeria. As of November, 24 iPhone models have been type-approved by the NCC.  

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11. Xiaomi (34 models) 

Xiaomi, another Chinese mobile brand, announced its entry into the Nigerian market in April 2019 with the launch of its Redmi Note 7 in Lagos. The company has since introduced several other models of its phones into the market. And as of the last count, Xiaomi now has a total of 34 models sold in the country.  

10. Vivo (36 models) 

Vivo is currently one of the top global smartphone manufacturers in terms of smartphone shipments. In August 2019, Vivo marked its entry by introducing its first set of smartphones in Nigeria – the Y series comprising four generations, the Y15, Y17, Y11, and Y12, respectively. The brand has since increased its device offerings in Nigeria, with 36 models approved. 

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9. Oppo (38 models) 

OPPO officially launched its brand in Nigeria on the 26th of April, 2019. Since then, it has continued to push its devices across the country. Quite popular with its Reno series, OPPO has enjoyed acceptance in the Nigerian market to be one of the leading smartphone sellers in the country. The brand’s total approved devices in the market as of November this year stood at 38. 

8. Gionee (42 models) 

Established in 2002, Gionee is a Chinese hi-tech company engaged in mobile device designing, research and development (R&D), manufacturing, and sales in international markets, and offering mobile internet application services. 

Gionee entered the Nigerian mobile phone market in August 2013 with the launch of its E6 of ELIFE smartphone series. The brand now has a total of 42 models of its devices approved for the Nigerian market.  

7. ZTE (46 models) 

Though ZTE has been operating in Nigeria since 2002 as an equipment vendor telecoms operator, the company became the biggest supplier of handsets to Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) providers such as Starcomms, Multilinks and the rest. While the CDMA operators are no more, ZTE has also been shipping smartphones into the Nigerian market. And as of November 2022, the company has had a total of 46 devices approved for the market. 

6. Infinix (83 models) 

Also, from the stable of the Chinese Transsion Group, Infinix came into Nigeria in 2013 and has continued to churn out a series of smart devices in the market. Popular for its dual SIM-enabled devices coupled with affordability compared with other brands, the Chinese phone brand is one of the leading brands in the country today. Its approved phone models for the market stood at 83 as of November. 

5. Itel (107 models) 

Itel, a member of the Chinese Group, Transsion, made its official entry into the Nigerian market in February 2007 with the launch of its iNote smartphone series targeted at the African market with high product performance and reasonable prices. The company is today competing favourably in the low-end smartphone market in Nigeria. According to the NCC data, a total of 107 Itel phone models are in the Nigerian market today. 

4. Samsung 191 

Like Nokia, Samsung was among the first set of mobile brands to grace the Nigerian market at the beginning of the GSM revolution. While the brand is popular for its high-end smartphones, its feature phones were among the best-selling devices in Nigeria in the early days of GSM. Today, Samsung is one of the leading brands in the country with 191 models of its phones so far approved by the NCC as fit for the market.  

 3. Huawei (139 models) 

Huawei is quite a popular global vendor supplying telecommunications equipment. Interestingly, its prowess in mobile manufacturing is also top-notch as it is now one of the leading mobile manufacturers in the world. The company started mobile phone manufacturing in 2003 and its first set of mobile phones was introduced to the Nigerian market in 2005. So far, Huawei has a total of 139 devices approved for the Nigerian market. 

2. Nokia (311 models) 

Nokia was one of the first mobile brands to come to Nigeria. The brand entered the market at the beginning of the GSM revolution in 2001 alongside other brands like Trium, Sagem, Sendo, Samsung, and Motorola, among others. Among the first set of Nokia phones shipped to Nigeria was the popular Nokia 3310, which many found stronger than other models and more durable. While Nokia has since lost its market grip in Nigeria and globally even with a series of changes in ownership, the brand still has the second-highest number of approved phones in the Nigerian market as of today at 311.  

1.Tecno (358 models) 

One of the first Chinese mobile brands to enter Nigeria, Tecno hit the market in 2006 with a quest to provide affordable phones to Nigerians. Many Nigerians, who couldn’t afford the expensive smartphones at that time found succour in the brand, which also appeal to the market’s need by making its devices dual SIM-enabled.  

Today, Tecno, the firstborn of the Transsion Group mobile trio, which includes Infinix and iTel, has the largest number of models approved for the Nigerian market. According to the NCC data, Tecno tops other brands with a total of 358 models of its devices in the market.  

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