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Chinese firm MiOne unveils locally assembled smartphones


The new U1 and Joy 9 smartphones are said to be `high-quality and pocket-friendly’

MBALE, UGANDA | AGENCIES | Chinese phone manufacturer MiOne has released two new smartphones, the U1 and Joy 9, assembled in Uganda’s Mbale City. The phones were unveiled by Uganda’s Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, and State Minister for Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives, David Bahati.

According to the company, this follows the successful sale of over 500,000 feature phones such as the AB1, AB3, and AB6 models in 2023.

The U1 smartphone boasts 12GB RAM and 256GB internal storage, along with a 108MP+VGA AI dual rear camera and a MediaTek Helio G85 chipset. Meanwhile, the Joy 9 features 8GB RAM, 128GB internal storage, a 50MP+VGA AI trio rear camera, and a T606 processor, with both models offering a 5,000mAh battery life.

MiOne, which has a solid presence in Dubai, the UAE, and Africa, began its operations in Uganda in February 2023 with a phone plant. This not only generated local employment but also increased the use of mobile phones. The success of its feature phones in Uganda motivated the company to expand into the smartphone market.

As per the Uganda Communications Commission’s Q3 2023 market report, nearly 958,000 new mobile devices were added in Uganda.

At the launch, Ben Yu, a representative for MiOne, highlighted the support the company has received from the local government. He expressed that the launch would contribute to the government’s digital and technological initiatives.

By end of 2024, it’s projected that 3.92 million or 14.99% of all internet users in Uganda will be mobile internet users.

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Yu described the new U1 and Joy 9 smartphones as “high-quality and pocket-friendly”. He added that careful planning has gone into their design with consideration given to user feedback and needs.

MiOne is not the only player in Uganda’s mobile phone manufacturing sector. In 2019, Engo, a Chinese company, established Uganda’s first mobile phone manufacturing and assembly plant in Kampala, making Uganda the fourth African nation with a phone assembly factory.

Kenya and South Africa are also striving to boost local smartphone production. In May 2023, Kenya revealed plans to start distributing locally assembled smartphones in a bid to enhance digital access and inclusion. Later in October, the country inaugurated its first smartphone assembly plant in Athi River, Machakos, focusing on the production of cost-effective, 4G-enabled Neon 5 ‘Smarta’ and 6 ½ ‘Ultramobile’ phones.

Furthermore, in July 2023, South African telecom company, Bam Telecoms, announced its intention to launch a locally made smartphone by the end of that year.


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