The world has seen many smartphones comes and go over the past few years, with some OEMs dominating the market and here to stay for the foreseeable future. While some smartphones are the envy of the industry, there are those that don’t really deserve to be classified as such. Many of the leading OEMs are based in South Korea, and a few spread across Japan, USA and China. The big news, today, is that South Africa will soon manufacture their own smartphone.
Seemahale Telecoms and CZ Electronics have signed off on a venture that will see the two black-led companies join forces to manufacture a locally-based Android smartphone and tablet in Boksburg, Johannesburg. Seemahale Telecoms currently produces network and broadcast equipment, while CZ Electronics manufacture goods for Alcatel in France on behalf of Telkom, amongst others. Seemahale Telecoms CEO, Thabo Lehlokoe, had this to say: “This project is a first in Africa as far as I am aware. It’s not right that out of a billion or more phones in Africa, none are made or assembled in Africa. Some are designed here, but they’re then made in China.”
Although there may be many critics and naysayers on the venture, the announced specifications of the devices are worth taking note of, especially when the smartphones and tablets are to be designed as “budget” devices. The smartphone is a 5” capacitive touchscreen, with Dual-Core 1.5GHz CPU, 3G connectivity (up to 21Mbps), 5MP rear-facing camera, dual-SIM, 960x540px resolution, 4GB internal storage, FM radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, Android 4.3 OS, and 2250mAh battery; and all this for a proposed R2500. The tablet on the other hand will have a 10.1” display, with Quad-Core 1.2GHz Cortex A7 CPU, 1GB RAM, option between 4GB to 16GB internal storage, 1280x800px resolution, mini-HDMI out, 5MP rear-facing camera, and weighs just 580g with a 8600mAh battery.
The aim of the venture is not only to provide the local market with cost-effective alternatives, but also demonstrate that devices made locally don’t necessarily have to be of lesser quality to be low-budget. The companies are set to start production in early 2014 at the CZ plant in Boksburg, with pre-orders set to start in January 2014. While nothing has yet been set in stone, the undertaking seems positive, and one can only hope that it would come to fruition.