South Africa’s first homegrown smartphone — Mara factory opens in Durban

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Today, Rwandan phone company Mara Group opened its second factory in Africa. It is based in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, and will help revive the country’s sluggish economy by creating some much-needed employment. 

Mara Group unveiled the Mara X and Mara Z smartphones last week — and these will be made locally at its Rwandan and South African factories. The phones are branded with a lion logo, probs depicting the company’s pride in being the first handsets manufactured and assembled completely in Africa. Mara’s first two handsets are being labelled the ‘world’s first “Made in Africa” smartphones’.

The company has partnered with Google to use Android One — the lighter version of the OS — in its smartphones. Its devices will be affordable (even more so because they are locally manufactured) and run all the essential apps needed from Google (like YouTube Go, Gmail Go etc). Which is more than Huawei can say right now… 

Meet the Mara’s 

The Mara X is powered by a MediaTek MT6739 processor, sports 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage space. It’s fitted with a 5.5in HD+ display made from Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and has a 13MP camera around back and a 2MP up front. On the back, you’ll also find a fingerprint sensor. For unlocking purposes. 

Then, the Mara Z is actually packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage behind its 5.7in HD+ display. The Z also has a 13MP camera and a fingerprint sensor on the back, but this time the front-facing camera is upped to 13MP. 

Although both phones have mediocre specs, we expect them to cost a fraction of what you’d pay for a mid-range smartphone right now. The addition of Google Photos using Android One will give users loads of space to store images, although both devices have abysmal (onboard) storage space. Google Go apps are cut down to smaller file sizes specifically for budget phones like these for just this sort of reason. 

This is a great step in the technological advancement of African nations, and we hope that the addition of Mara’s factory will boost our local economy. We’re especially excited to see what the Mara phones will cost, and how they compare to other budget options.

Source: Mara website and Twitter

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Deputy Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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