Following the need for a smartphone to access New Zealand’s national Covid-19 Tracer App, Vodafone New Zealand saw a 96 percent increase in sales of its most popular entry-level device, the Smart E11, during July and August, according to a new report. The Smart E11 device is available for NZD 79.00 (US $55.44).
The E11, which features a 4.95-inch display, is available from Vodafone Stores, Vodafone’s website and other retailers such as Noel Leeming, The Warehouse and Harvey Norman.
Because these entry-level handsets are restricted to the Vodafone network, the E11 phone only works with a Vodafone NZ SIM. However, a free prepaid MyFlex SIM is included with the handset, according to the operator. An unlocking fee of NZD 30.00 (US $21.05) may apply, the company added.
Of the many factors that could stimulate uptake of smartphones, a Covid-19 tracing app is one of the least expected. But New Zealand, a small and prosperous island nation, has taken contact tracing very seriously from the beginning of the pandemic, and its national Tracer App is now an essential part of daily life. As the delta variant of the virus surges, tracing has become even more important. And since the app requires a smart device, it makes sense that it has become a major factor in users who previously used feature phones making the switch to smartphones.
It is of course to be expected that such users would want the least expensive and simplest type of handset, since their main reason for getting one is access to mobile data to run the tracing app. Therefore they have little or no need for advanced features or large amounts of data. A budget device such as the Smart E11 is perfect for this purpose. The fact that they are locked to the Vodafone network may not bother some of these users at all, but for those whom it does not satisfy, the relatively low unlocking fee should not be too much of an imposition, especially considering that it is a one-time-only expense.