Why are smartphones so expensive and unaffordable

Study: Smartphones are unaffordable for billions

Nowadays, important health information is also provided by cell phone
Image: picture alliance / Marijan Murat / dpa Smartphones are unaffordable for billions of people worldwide. Almost 2.5 billion people live in countries where a cell phone costs at least a quarter of a month's or even annual income, reports the Alliance for Affordable Internet. Many people could not afford data packages either.

Price range pretty wide

Nowadays, important health information is also provided by cell phone
Image: picture alliance / Marijan Murat / dpa The alliance compared smartphone prices in 70 countries with low and middle incomes and a combined population of more than five billion. Such a cell phone is most expensive in Sierra Leone in West Africa. It costs more than six average monthly wages, the equivalent of 225 euros. Behind are Burundi, followed by India.

Where almost a fifth of the entire world population lives, the cheapest device costs two average monthly salaries, almost 300 euros. In contrast, a smartphone in Botswana or Jamaica only costs around 20 euros, around five percent of the average monthly income.

On the one hand, the standard of living in these countries is higher and people have more money, says Teddy Woodhouse, Research Director of the Web Foundation, the German Press Agency. There, however, data providers also offer devices without brand names. "The devices are not very fancy and often have slower processors and cameras and smaller memory," said Woodhouse. But that is enough as an entry-level device.

"The vast majority of the next billion people who go online will do so on a mobile device," the Woodhouse Foundation quoted as saying. "If we want to make sure that people can take advantage of the internet, we need to make devices more affordable."

Smartphone is an essential supply tool

The coronavirus pandemic showed that people missed important health information because they did not have access to the internet. A smartphone is not a luxury, but an essential supply instrument. The alliance calls on governments to encourage the production of cheap equipment, lower taxes on it, and give people the option of paying in installments.

The alliance is an initiative of the web foundation of Tim Berners-Lee, who 30 years ago as a physicist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva laid the technical foundations for the World Wide Web.

Newspaper ducks are of course also available in digital form, the web search of the messenger WhatsApp should help against such. You can read more about this in another news item.