5 Things to consider before buying a Smartphone in Uganda

5 tips to consider when buying a smartphone in Uganda

1. Which Phone Brand and Phone Operating System do you desire?

2. Say NO to counterfeit Phones

3. Which Kind of Smartphone Features are you into?

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4. How compatible is the phone to Ugandan Networks?

5. How much are you willing to spend?


5 tips to consider when buying a smartphone in Uganda

It’s that time of the year for me to buy a new smartphone, am a smartphone junkie and most of my friends know that, in fact I know I have influenced several of them to make that switch. The streets of Kampala are full of Chinese knock off smartphones and even those who can get original ones are still confused on what to get, I thought I would write down some pointers to consider when making that final decision.  I always get several question from friends who want to make sure that before they lay down their hard earned dimes to a smartphone dealer, they are making the right choice. Here are 5 things to consider when buying a smartphone in Uganda.

1. The Brand & Operating System

5 tips to consider when buying a smartphone in Uganda_brands (gsmarena)

Samsung, Nokia, HTC, LG, Sony ,Tecno, iPhone are some of the several original smartphone brands you will find gazing at you in those shops. But how do you decide which brand to trust? Is it Apple’s critically acclaimed iPhone brand? Or is it Samsung with its bigger than ever growing advertising budget and huge screens. Why not go for the HTC with its extraordinary design DNA?  One thing I had to learn the hard way about smartphones is that there will always be a better smartphone tomorrow irrespective of the brand you choose.

All these brands come pre-loaded with different Operating Systems. For a hustle free experience iPhones are always a safe bet, but they come with a hefty price. So going back to reality, I rather you get hold of an Android Phone which also has a significant number of apps. For those who fancy simplicity and not much into the number of apps on their phone, Microsoft’s Windows Phone will be your kind of thing and if you are still stuck in 2007 a Blackberry phone will be a no brainier. My choice is HTC or Samsung running Android. Plus avoid second hand-phones, as they come with issues the previous owner left on them.

5 tips to consider when buying a smartphone in Uganda_fake phones
Recent Raid on fake Nokia Phones in Kampala

2. Look out for Fake Phones

The motto is simple “fake is always cheap”. Always make research before spending your over UGX 500,000 and above on a smartphone. You will be amazed with the things you will find online. You have to know that business people are all about survival and there are many fake phone out there dressed in original clothing. But how do you tell a fake from a genie phone? What you have to know is that these dealers have reached an extent of buying un-branded phones and just put on original stickers of common well-known brands onto them.

One of reasons UCC found it hard to curb counterfeit phones is that mobile operators register several phones with the same IMEI (that unique code that is supposed to distinguish one phone from the other). So it’s better to always buy from recommended phone dealerships (We already have Samsung, HTC, Nokia and LG official agents in Uganda) or reputable online stores (like Kaymu) also phones bought from Mobile networks are safe. That way you can claim your warranty in case anything goes wrong. Avoid impulse purchases from suspicious individuals on Facebook pages.

Chinese knock off phones usually have poor quality screens and build materials. Also look out and avoid brand names such as SQNY instead of SONY or SAMSANG instead of SAMSUNG. Lastly after buying that phone, register it and it’s IMEI with the respective company’s website for final proof of authenticity from the phone maker.


3. Phone Features

Galaxy S5 design

This is perhaps one of the most important things you consider before buying a phone may be after seeing your friends phone do things yours can’t do. Or after watching or hearing that Samsung or Nokia commercial on TV or Radio. Year after year smartphones get smarter with more crazy features from higher resolution screens, finger-print scanners and mega pixel loaded cameras or faster processors.

In Uganda or most developing nations, nothing beats a dual-SIM phone or better yet a dual-SIM smartphone. Since most networks have crappy voice and data services, others have better voice or data tariffs. You are better off with a dual SIM phone.

Phones like the latest Samsung Galaxy flagships and iPhone do away with the FM radio, a small feature but useful for a phone that costs over UGX 2m yet cheaper phones have FM radios. So go in for the features you want.

Personally I prefer a good camera phone, great audio capabilities, longer battery life, fast processor and RAM and a great user experience with more practical than gimmicky features.

4. Network Compatibility

cellular tower

Get the most out of your phone, avoid phones that have the following brand names TMOBILE, AT&T, VERIZON, SPRINT all these are American branded phones. Were as it seems prestigious to have a phone with an American network brand, most of these phones are not optimized or cannot work on Ugandan networks since some use different mobile technologies like CDMA or WiMAX that most of the networks in Uganda cannot support at least for mobile phones. The phone you buy must support 2G. 3G or 4G with the frequency bands below.

[signoff predefined=”Movie Review Signoff” icon=”icon-signal”] 2G Network : GSM 900 / 1800, 3G Network: HSDPA 2100 , 4G network: LTE 800 / 2600, All the mentioned frequencies are in MHz and are also supported in all AMEA regions ( LTE is Optional)[/signoff]

mobile netwok technologies in Uganda
Major telecom operators in Uganda and technologies in which they operate

Phones from these American networks seem to do away with some of the above bands, that’s why they are not recommended for use here in Uganda. For a phone that does all networks you are better off using it on the Orange or soon Africell network since it’s the only network that supports all 3 network bands on a mobile phone.

techbill hero

5. Price

This the final deciding factor you will have to consider. Smartphones now days come in 3 different categories, from low-end, mid-range and high-end phones. Obviously the low-end being the more affordable of them all. With a company like Samsung that makes a tonne of new smartphones, you cannot fail to make your pick. Smartphone Price ranges are about:

low-end: UGX 250,000 – UGX 520,000 ($100- $200)

mid-range: UGX 520,000 – UGX 1,050,000 ($200 – $400)

high-end: UGX 1,300,000 and above ($500)

* estimated prices above do not apply to second-hand phones.

You always don’t need to go in the for the latest and greatest for example you could buy last year’s Galaxy s4 instead of the S5 at a cheaper price yet the difference between the two phones in terms of features is a hair-line thick. If you think your phone is in good shape (no cracks or dents). You could consider swapping it for a new smartphone.

Of course a lot goes into consideration before you decide to surrender those dimes. Do you think you have some other tips to share with others? Feel free to leave comment below.

  • john

    this is interesting Roger. I wasn’t even aware u knew English, later on write good articles in the same. thanks for the good Job. I believe somewhere in the article you are marketing orange, I hope they increase your salary or at least give you a bonus. but if these articles are written during the day (read on company time like i am responding here) i propose you give them a bonus. my comments:
    1. who ever introduced Techno here didnt do them justice. I have owned one, when they had just hit our market. trust me the word original would really feel offended to live in the same line with Techno. I was surprised to see them Advertise on TV the other during a world cup game. anyway its just my opinion i wldnt put them in te same statement with htc iphone and Samsung.
    2. many at time if u buy an original phone you will hardly get any issues. you may never use your warranty. like i said above i have owned a TEHNO my ooooh my if it had a warranty i think i wld have used all of it. i admit i may have bought a fake one(btw we had named techno original fake) but it had issues. on the other hand i have owned a nokia katouch whatever series it was, no issues. i know some one who has owned a Nokia E i think 83 dont remember now, never had issues. tho the nokia E begun restarting itself after abt two yrs of use. i guess even if it had a warranty it wldnt be working then. he later owned bb bold used for 2 yrs and gave it to some one its still up and running. currently he is running on an iphone and galaxy grand, 2yrs on grand 6months on iphone never needed to use the warranty. his wife runs on s3 for 3 yrs screen ok regardless of the trouble her kid does to this phone. my point here being please insist on original phones. Trust me the more you pay the better u get.
    3. last, i believe a phone is meant to last at most two yrs. its not wine that the older it grows the better. worse is the older it it grows the worse it becomes and the better newer ones work. i cant believe how slow an s3 is given how fast it was when it launched. even if its new some how its slow. always remember to upgrade if u can

    • roger bambino

      John, lol and Wont comment on the me knowing English part . However when ever we write posts here its all about giving people the right information. No Ads as none of the telecoms is paying us to write these posts. Its a fact that currently Orange is the only operator that has 4G LTE that can work on mobile phones and that can support calls on the same network. Simile communications has plats of VO-LTE (Voice over LTE) in the future and MTN is still screwed with the version of LTE that they implemented (TD-LTE) but phone in this band will be popular soon.

      As for techno, Its one of the popular phone used in Ug and since its an article about Smartphone in Ug. I think they deserve a mention in the leagues of HTC and Samsungt. I have never used one but according to @disqus_emppOYKgpq:disqus ‘s comments below and a review he made on http://www.dignited.com the Techno comes with a 3 yr warranty which is good stuff> Plus its an original brand.

      I agree with you ,a person should change phone every 2 yrs , me its very year since i get bored with mine and I always want to have the best and fastest phone. Which brings to the slowing Galaxy S3 (GS3) issue u mentioned. That the biggest issue with Android. Its slows down with time. Google claimed that they had worked on this with the Android update 4.3 with the TRIM feature but me i see there is no difference. I think its one of the issues of the Dalvick Engine which will be changed to ART in the next version of Android.

      Otherwise thanks for the pointers John.

  • Eristaus

    Interesting read that gives key pointers that we have to consider. I was fooled a couple of times so I agree with a lot in this post especially when I am putting in my hard earned money.
    Let me see….
    1. the spelling is TECNO no TECHNO
    2. I consider after sales support like – is the warranty actually active in my country? The reason I like Tecno is that they gave me a 13 month functional warranty and when my phone had an issue I took it there and they worked on it at no extra cost – I took a Samsung S3 for repair and they told me it wasn’t purchased from them so they cannot cover it an were asking for 700,000 to replace the screen ( price of a mid range Tecno that is really good) With Tecno, the warranty is functional across Africa.
    3. I would also consider current user reviews about the phone. I wouldn’t want to buy a phone that I thought was good and later I am stuck with it when it has somethings I will not like. ( I cannot buy a Samsung Galaxy S3 because everyone I know who owns it has a broken screen they failed to replace)
    4. Even when you know what phone you want and you have the money, where to buy it may be an issue – I am normally looking for who has the best deal around

    • roger bambino

      Wow … impressed bro
      1. typo corrected
      2. Yes after sales are very paramount . I think Samsung began their after sales (screen replacement program) from the GS4 am not sure how many chances you have. tecno is a safe bet for now
      3. yes always searching online for reviews is good helps u know more about the phone plus what comes in the box…I have heard cases of missing headphones, etc
      4. Where to buy is always a trick … but going legit is a safe bet.. Plus I always authenticate my phone on like.. Like my new M8…gonna do it now