As the number of Indian cities covered by 5G grows, India's 5G smartphone user base has passed the 100 million mark and monthly sales have overtaken those of 4G smartphones for the first time, according to recent research.
Counterpoint Research, a global industry analysis firm headquartered in Asia, has reported that the 100 million 5G smartphone sales milestone was hit in May 2023. That’s around 14% of the total installed smartphone base. The research firm expects the active installed base of 5G handsets to cross 140 million by the end of 2023.
A report in India’s Economic Times says the monthly total of 4G smartphone shipments per month was overtaken by the 5G version in May, although the total installed base of 4G users (not specified by the Economic Times) is likely to remain higher than 5G for some while. Statista, a provider of market and consumer data, says the total number of smartphone users in India could reach over one billion this year.
Counterpoint suggests that a surge in launches of 5G smartphones in the (relatively) affordable 10,000-15,000 rupee (US$122-183) price band is boosting sales. The research firm said that of the total smartphones sold at under 20,000 rupees (US$244) in 2022, only 14% were 5G smartphones. In May it was 26%.
Interestingly, a lot of 5G smartphone users are still using 4G; 5G subscription take-up is still slow and free offers from Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel don’t seem to have massively boosted subscriber numbers. In any case both operators are still rolling out, albeit at an impressive rate: Reliance Jio now covers well over 6,000 Indian cities across the country, while Airtel has covered over 3,000 cities.
Meanwhile another research group, technology market analyst Canalys, has reported that India’s smartphone market has stabilised in Q2 2023 after three quarters of decline, with shipments of 36.1 million units.
Samsung, Vivo, Xiaomi, Realme and Oppo are cited as the top five vendor names, though Xiaomi and Realme saw market share falls and even Samsung's figures declined, albeit by a modest 1%.
Offline demand in particular has surged due to an apparent consumer preference for physical retail. The second half of 2023 should see further sales growth during the festive season and October’s Cricket World Cup.