India shifts 158m smartphones to edge out the US as the world’s second largest smartphone market

Published: 28 January 2020 - 5:25 a.m.

India has become the world’s second largest smartphone market, behind China, with 158 million handsets being purchased in 2019.

In real terms, India saw annual growth of 7 per cent in demand for smartphone handsets.

“Although the rate of growth for the smartphone market was only single digit for the first time on an annual basis, India is underpenetrated relative to many other markets; 4G penetration among subscribers being around 55%. Going forward, we expect this demand to grow further due to the ongoing transition from feature phones to smartphones and progressive diffusion of key smartphone features to the entry-level price tier as a result of hyper-competition among multiple players. We further expect brands to have multi-tier strategies involving partnerships in the mobile ecosystem from hardware, software and services, thus creating opportunities within different segments like entertainment, gaming, financial services and more,” said Tarun Pathak, associate director.

India saw very strong demand in the mid-tier handset range, with Xiaomi accounting for the largest number of handset sales. realme (255% per cent), Vivo (76 per cent), Asus (67 per cent) and OnePlus (29 per cent) were the fastest-growing smartphone brands in the country, according to a report compiled by Counterpoint.

“Chinese brands’ share hit a record 72% for 2019 compared to 60% a year ago. During 2019 we have seen all major Chinese players expanding their footprint in offline and online channels to gain market share. For example, Xiaomi, realme, and OnePlus have increased their offline points of sale, while brands like Vivo have expanded their online reach with Z and U series. 2019 also marked the fifth anniversary in India for some OEMs. Several have seen significant growth from their first full year of operation. For example, over the past four years, Xiaomi, Vivo, and OnePlus have grown 15x, 24x, and 18x respectively. This highlights that OEMs are mature enough to capture the next wave of growth and further expand their operations in India,” said Anshika Jain, research analyst at Counterpoint Research.

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