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Strong recovery for India’s smartphone market in 2021 with record shipments


On 26 October 2020, the billioard in a Electronics Shop in Sopore District Baramulla Jammu Kashmir India features the Samsung Logos, Xiaomi MI and Realme.

Nasirkachroo | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Canalys reports that India’s smartphone industry saw a significant recovery in 2021, with a 12% increase over last year.

According to firm, smartphone makers sold a record 162million devices last year despite the difficult start of the year when the country faced a second wave Covid-19 outbreak and had to navigate supply chain disruptions.

The research company said that smartphone vendors sold 44.5 million smartphones in Q4 despite the challenges of a supply chain, “following a strong recovery in Q3”.

Chinese smartphone manufacturers dominated the top five positions in 2021 with Xiaomi taking the lead. South Korean phonemaker Samsung took second place, while Chinese manufacturer vivo took third position. Realme from Shenzhen came in third, although it was only the second time India had managed to secure the top spot in the fourth quarter.

This growth is despite India experiencing a second severe wave of Covid-19 in the last year. It saw supply chain disruptions and lockdowns throughout the country which affected both demand and supply.

According to Sanyam Chaurasia, Canalys analyst, vendors had to adjust to this volatile environment through diversifying their supply chain and expanding their product range.

“At the exact same time, due to the vaccine rollout, market opening and pent-up demands, smartphone shipments reached their all-time highs during the full year,” he said.

Realme is experiencing a tremendous amount of growth

When XiaomiAnd SamsungThey retained their top spot for 2021. Shenzhen’s Realme experienced the largest quarterly and full-year growth.

Realme, which will enter premium smartphone markets, witnessed shipments increase by 25% in the entire year to 24.2 Million units.

While the Chinese firm saw an increase of 49% annually in fourth quarter, the four other brands experienced a decline.

Chaurasia said that Realme was able to ship a record number of smartphones due to innovations in stock and planning management. This led, in part, to a high supply of mass-market phones like Narzo 50A (and C11)”.

Vivo was still third in 2021. Realme came close behind, with a 15% market share last year. This is only 1% more than Vivo. OPPO remained fifth, with a marketshare of 12%.

Future trends

Chaurasia stated that the growth will continue to be driven by new customers and replacement demand.

Canalys reported that low-end competitors gained momentum in last year’s fourth quarter, which could lead to new players challenging for market share.

Chaurasia said that JioPhone Next (which aims to up-grade feature-phone users through disruptive financing options) had made a strong beginning with several million units being sold. Infinix, Tecno, and Amazon all effectively leveraged the brand’s promotional campaign. The brand’s recognition was also enhanced on social media.

All brands combined saw an annual increase of 111%. The fourth quarter was a record-breaking year for the brand.

According to the research company, India is also expected to go through a massive digital transformation in this year.

Chaurasia stated that 5G spectrum auctions will be held in 2022 with the new frequency bands, making 5G significantly cheaper and more available.

The price of smartphones capable 5G connectivity will drop further due to fierce vendor competition, but shipment will remain high in H1 2022 until the shortage ends.