The locally manufactured or assembled mobile phones, primarily by Chinese companies, have surpassed the number of imported phones, coinciding with Pakistan’s record-low foreign exchange reserves. In the first four months (Jan-April) of 2023, Pakistan manufactured or assembled 3.44 million phone sets locally, while the country commercially imported a mere 300,000 (0.3 million) phone sets.
According to official statistics from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), out of the 3.44 million locally assembled or manufactured phones, 2.79 million are feature phones (2G), and 0.65 million are smartphones.
Chinese mobile companies are leading the race in local manufacturing and assembly. Chinese phones not only offer affordability but also perform better than many high-end phones imported from abroad. According to the PTA, between January and April 2023, X Mobile from China manufactured 0.45 million mobile phones, followed by VGO Tel with 0.40 million sets. Similarly, Chinese companies ITEL, G’Five, and Infinix manufactured 0.39 million, 0.20 million, and 0.15 million phones, respectively.
Under the Mobile Device Manufacturing Authorizations program by the PTA, locally manufactured handsets from Pakistan have begun exports. In December 2022, at least 120,000 “Manufactured in Pakistan” mobile handsets were exported to the African market.
Between 2016 and 2020, Pakistan imported more mobile phones than those manufactured in the country. However, in 2021, for the first time, the number of phones manufactured in the country exceeded the number of imported phones, with 24.66 million phones locally assembled or manufactured compared to 10.26 million phones commercially imported. In 2022, the country assembled or manufactured 21.94 million phones, while the number of imported phones dropped to 1.53 million.