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Samsung faces Pakistan smartphone shortage after winning debut

2 min read

Mobile maker assembles devices it sells in Pakistan locally

Samsung’s latest flagship phone family has seen a strong start

Samsung Electronics Co. is facing a shortage of its S24 smart phones in Pakistan after seeing unprecedented demand for its flagship phone.

The handsets, assembled locally in the country, have been in hot demand since their launch earlier this year. Pricier than the rest of Samsung’s range, the dearth of Galaxy S24 Ultra and other S24 devices shows the spending power of the more affluent Pakistani consumers. The world’s fifth-most populous nation, Pakistan has 192 million mobile phone users.

“Samsung Electronics is working hard to meet the demand of our customers, and we anticipate sales will resume shortly,” the South Korean maker of chips, gadgets and appliances said in an emailed statement.

Financial incentives from the government have shifted Pakistan’s smart phone industry from mostly importing overseas-made products in 2017 to domestic assembly of the vast majority of new handsets sold. Mobile companies produced about 21 million units in Pakistan last year — led by local and Chinese brands VGOTEL, Infinix and Itel — while another 1.7 million units were imported, data from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority show.

The country’s mobile phone assembly is set to grow by 30% to 40% this year, according to Muzzaffar Hayat Piracha, chief executive officer of Air Link Communication Ltd. His company is one of the country’s biggest mobile phone distributors and an assembler for brands including Xiaomi Corp. Pakistan’s mobile companies are coming out of a turbulent phase after they had to halt operations last year when the nation restricted imports amid an economic crisis.

The new models are key to Samsung securing its spot as the world’s biggest smartphone maker. The company lost that title to Apple Inc. and the iPhone last year, which was the first time since 2010 that it wasn’t top of the ranking, per data from industry tracker IDC.

Most phone stores in Pakistan still carry large posters of the S24 series, but are waiting for new stock to arrive.

In Pakistan, Samsung has an edge on Apple with better pricing and distribution. Because Apple doesn’t do local manufacturing, iPhone buyers have to pay a tax — added for imported handsets — of as much as $650, more than a third of the phone’s official price. Courtesy Bloomberg

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