Counterpoint Research said India’s smartphone shipments grew 23% year on year to more than 38 million units in Q1 2021, the highest ever first quarter shipments. New product launches, promotions and financial schemes, as well as pent-up demand coming from 2020, drove the market in Q1 2021.
Commenting on the market dynamics, Senior Research Analyst Prachir Singh said, “Continuing with its stellar run, India’s smartphone market registered a third consecutive quarter of record shipments in Q1 2021, riding on pent-up demand. Consumer confidence also increased due to the beginning of a vaccination drive in the country. But these numbers should be taken with caution as a second and more virulent wave of COVID-19 is currently on in the country and is likely to impact the coming quarters. The consumer demand will take a hit due to the ongoing COVID-19 wave and subsequent lockdowns.”
Commenting on the competitive landscape and brand strategies, Research Analyst Shilpi Jain said, “The Chinese brands held a 75% share in the March-ended quarter. Xiaomi led the market with a 26% share, followed by Samsung, vivo, realme and OPPO. Xiaomi has recently expanded its manufacturing capabilities with new EMS partners, which helped the brand maintain strong shipments during the quarter. All the major brands are focusing on new product launches to drive consumer demand. Samsung maintained a high number of new product launches in its Galaxy M-series, Galaxy F-series as well as the Galaxy S21 series during the quarter. Besides, realme launched its 8 series, OnePlus announced its 9 series and Xiaomi launched its Redmi Note 10 series that has started well. Brands are also focusing on promotions and financial schemes to increase consumer demand.”
Exhibit 1: India Smartphone Market Share, Q1 2021
India’s mobile handset market grew 19% YoY in Q1 2021 due to the strong performance of both feature phone and smartphone segments. The feature phone market registered a 14% YoY growth during the quarter driven by strong shipments of JioPhone under its new model and subsequent promotions. However, itel led the feature phone market in Q1 2021 with a 21% market share.
Exhibit 2: India Handset Market Share, Q1 2021
Note: Xiaomi’s share includes POCO brand
- Xiaomi retained the top position in the Indian smartphone market with 4% YoY growth in Q1 2021 driven by the Redmi 9 series. The Redmi 9A was the best-selling model during the quarter. The brand reentered the upper mid-tier segment (INR 20,000 – INR 30,000) (~$280-$420) almost after 1.5 years with its latest 5G offering, the Mi 10i 5G, which performed strongly in this segment. The recently launched Redmi Note 10 series has received a good response from consumers. The models primarily focused on OLED display, design and camera (108 MP). To cope up with the strong demand, the brand expanded its manufacturing base by partnering with more EMS partners like BYD and DBG.
- Samsung remains the second-largest brand in India’s smartphone shipments with 52% YoY growth driven by its focus on the budget segment with the new M02 series and multiple other launches. It refreshed its A-series with the A32, A52 and A72, and the M-series with the M12. It also launched its latest flagship Galaxy S21 series earlier than its normal launch period. After being aggressive on online channels in 2020, the brand attempted to gain share offline. Samsung made its online exclusive F-series available across offline channels and is now launching new products across both channels. Samsung’s online portal is doing quite well and has increased its contribution within Samsung’s channel, driven by the Galaxy S21 series and other flagships.
- vivo grew 16% YoY and held the third position in Q1 2021. With the recovery in offline channels in Q1 2021 following an improvement in the COVID-19 situation, vivo continued to be the leading smartphone player in the offline segment. The brand launched its latest flagship X60 series with advanced camera capabilities. The initial consumer response has been robust, thus continuing the momentum of the previous X50 series. X-series has generated a positive mind share for vivo in the premium segment.
- realme declined 4% YoY in Q1 2021 but managed to maintain its fourth position in the market. realme is bringing the 5G smartphones to lower price points with its newly launched Narzo series and realme X series. The Narzo 30 Pro 5G was the cheapest 5G smartphone offering in the country during the quarter. Additionally, the brand is expanding its reach in offline channels.
- OPPO grew 12% YoY and had an 11% market share in Q1 2021. OPPO made its 5G debut in Q1 2021 with the OPPO Reno 5 Pro 5G, which held a 3% market share in India’s 5G smartphone shipments. It also revamped its F-series with the F19 series, and with the F19 Pro Plus, the brand entered the 5G segment in the upper mid-tier segment. The consumer response to the F19 series has been positive.
- POCO was the fastest-growing brand registering 558% YoY growth driven by its strong demand in the budget segment. It refreshed its portfolio with the M3 in the budget segment and with the X3 Pro in the mid segment.
- Transsion Group brands (itel, Infinix and TECNO) registered 81% YoY growth, capturing 7% share collectively and climbing to the second position in the overall India handset market. itel became the No.1 brand in the sub-INR 6,000 tier driven by the A48 and A23. TECNO’s cumulative smartphone shipments crossed the 10-million mark since its entry into the Indian smartphone market.
- Apple continued to carry forward its momentum from Q4 2020. It witnessed 207% YoY growth in Q1 2021. The brand maintained its leading position in the premium segment (>INR 30,000 or ~$400) with almost 48% share. Strong demand for the iPhone 11 coupled with aggressive offers on the iPhone SE 2020 and expansion in ‘Make in India’ capabilities are the driving factors in this growth. Apple also registered more than 1 million shipments for two consecutive quarters for the first time.
- OnePlus grew more than 300% YoY for Q1 2021 driven by the OnePlus Nord and OnePlus 8T shipments. OnePlus was the top 5G smartphone brand in the country in Q1 2021. It recently launched the OnePlus 9 series with revamped camera capabilities in partnership with Hasselblad. OnePlus Nord was the best-selling 5G smartphone model during the quarter.
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The Market Monitor research relies on sell-in (shipments) estimates based on vendor’s IR results and vendor polling, triangulated with sell-through (sales), supply chain checks and secondary research.
Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.