Far from struggling with the pandemic, India’s smartphone market looks set for a boom this year, according to reports from two analyst firms.
Data from Canalys indicated that Indian smartphone shipments during the second quarter jumped nearly 90% year-on-year, although the firm acknowledges that this is largely due to the 2020 figures being a low bar to clear given that India was under lockdown at the time.
India struggled with a second wave of Covid this year which throttled demand, but sell-in shipments for Q2 2021 increased by 87% to 32.4 million units. Canalys analyst Sanyam Chaurasia noted that the market would likely improve further during the second half “aided by accelerated vaccinations, as well as brands expanding promotional activities and new product releases”.
However, Chaurasia noted that “limited component supply, rising shipping charges and a tough macroeconomic environment” would likely drive up costs for devices, with global supply chain shortages expected to have an impact on the Indian market.
Counterpoint Research meanwhile found that the stay-at-home orders implemented during the pandemic meant that online sales were expected to account for over 50% of India’s smartphone market for the first time ever during Q2.
In the report, Counterpoint noted: "Both April and May were better than expected as we have already mentioned that smartphone market stays resilient and we have seen a strong pent-up demand in June."
The Economic Times reported that 5G smartphone shipments had more than doubled from 7% in Q1 to 15% in Q2, with companies rushing to launch affordable 5G-ready devices as demand surged.
Earlier this month, Chinese smartphone maker Realme stated its goal of launching a 5G smartphone for under INR 10,000 next year. The company’s vice president Madhay Sheth claimed that Realme was “spearheading 5G's democratisation in India and globally, and through our 5G smartphones we will constantly bring more leap-forward surprises and the best in market experience to more Indian consumers.”
Realme logged a 181% year-on-year increase in shipments for Q2 2021, with 4.9 million devices shipped. This placed it fourth in the market with a 15% share, behind Xiaomi (29% share with 9.5 million devices shipped for a 77% increase), Samsung (17% share, 5.5 million devices, 87% growth) and Vivo (17% share, 5.4 million devices, 45% growth).
Growth in device shipments appears to be driven by a growing appetite for 5G devices in India, with Counterpoint noting that almost 14% of devices sold during May were 5G-capable.
Tarun Pathak, Research Director at Counterpoint, believes this trend will accelerate, saying: "There are a number of market and technology factors which will make the transition from 4G to 5G the fastest among all generations. There is the anticipation of massive performance boosts in download speeds and step-change feature set improvements across imaging, processors and battery life.”