Samsung is currently the leading smartphone manufacturer to penetrate and dominate the African market – a growing yet largely overlooked electronics market. Of late though, there are a few players who are striving to produce smartphones locally and the first company to catch the international eye is in the most unlikely country – the Congo. The African smartphone market may not be as advanced as America, European and Asian but increasing literacy levels and many companies investing in different sectors in the continent has helped this market grow as much.
VMK is the first Africa-based tech company to make headway in producing a smartphone that is worth talking about. The company unveiled an Android smartphone last year which though seemed modest in features and specs, was perfectly suited for a market that stresses so much on price.
VMK this time round is releasing a pretty impressive Android smartphone. Although the specs of this phone are modest and could definitely not compete against the major players in features and specs, it is seen to be an impressive beginning for a young company which might one day conquer and rule the African market if it gets its strategies right, and maybe venture into the international market.
Their new Black Android smartphone dubbed Elikia (which means hope in Congolese lingala) runs on Android Gingerbread out-of-the-box. It sports a 3.5 inch screen and the build is petite, decently designed, stylish and elegant. It is about 11.2 mm thick and weighs 150g. it will not be winning any global awards for built but it is pretty ‘pocketable’.
The other specs are modest but fit this phone in a low-budget category by modern western standards. It is definitely not a power tool especially since it comes with a 650 MHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and 126 MB internal memory but with a microSD slot that can support external memory up to 32 GB. The handset also comes with more connectivity options just like the standard smartphones designed for the first world market including WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, 3G, A-GPS and USB 2.0.
Its 1300 mAh battery may seem a little on the lower end at first but seeing its 650 MHz processor, it can probably run the phone for over six hours talk time on a single charge. What’s more, it has a 480 X 320 pixels screen resolution which is not so power hungry. Although it comes with Android 3.2 Gingerbread, there is the option to load Ice Cream Sandwich using a Holo Launcher.
VMK Elikia has its own app store because Google Play is not yet allowed in the Congo but I bet it is just a matter of time before it is open for the African market. The phone will be available off-contract and will sell at an equivalent price of $170. The features of the phone are pretty modest and in the first world market, it would probably not sell for such a price – not with the stiff competition from established manufacturers. However, as the name says, this is ‘Hope’ for Africa and a sign that the continent is no longer sleeping technology-wise after all. It is just a matter of time before we see some impressive gadgets come out of Africa into the international market.