India Smartphone Sales: Record Quarter but New COVID Wave to Play Spoilsport
Xiaomi led from the front, retaining its number one position, followed by Samsung in the first quarter, finds a study
The smartphone shipments in India grew by a robust 23% yoy to reach over 38 million units in the first quarter of calendar year 2021, said the latest research from Counterpoint’s market monitor service. These were the highest ever first-quarter shipments, driven by new product launches, promotions and financial schemes, as well as pent-up demand coming from the last year.
However, this development should be taken with caution. The second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, which is more intense than the first one, is likely to play spoilsport for the industry and could dampen consumer sentiment which had come on track for a while owing to vaccination drive in the country.
“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,” said Prachir Singh, Senior Research analyst at Counterpoint.
“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,” said Shilpi Jain, Research analyst at Counterpoint.
“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,” said Jain.
The feature phone market too witnessed a strong 14% yoy growth during the quarter driven by strong shipments of Jiophone under its new model and subsequent promotions. This segment was led by itel which has a 21% market share.
If we look at the market summary, 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 (Rs 20,000 - Rs 30,000) 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
“The Chinese brands held a 75% share in the Marchended 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” —Shilpi Jain, Research analyst, Counterpoint
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 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. It made its 5G debut in Q1 2021 with the 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-6k tier driven by the a48 and a23. Tecno’s cumulative smartphone shipments crossed the 10million 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. ■