India’s smartphone industry grew 23% in the first quarter; Xiaomi leads, Samsung second


  • Xiaomi led the market in the first quarter of 2021 with a 26% share of shipments representing five of the top 10 smartphone models.
  • Samsung was second, posting the strongest growth at 52% and a 20% share, up from 16% last year.
  • OnePlus led 5G smartphone shipments with a 33% share. Chinese brands together accounted for 75% of the shares in the quarter.
  • Second wave of COVID likely to dampen demand in the coming quarters.

Smartphone shipments to India increased 23% in the first quarter of calendar year 2021 to over 38 million units, according to Counterpoint’s Market Monitor’s latest research report. It was the highest shipping on record in the first quarter in the country, driven by new product launches, promotions and financial programs, as well as pent-up demand last year.

“Continuing its stellar run, the Indian smartphone market recorded a third consecutive quarter of record shipments in the first quarter of 2021, taking advantage of pent-up demand,” said Prachir Singh, senior research analyst. “Consumer confidence has also increased due to the start of a vaccination campaign in the country.”

Smartphone market share in India, Q1 2021 Source: Counterpoint Research

However, Counterpoint has warned that the second wave of COVID, which is stronger and more intense than the first, could dampen demand for the foreseeable future.

“These figures should be taken with caution as a second more virulent wave of COVID-19 is currently underway in the country and is likely to have an impact in the quarters to come,” he added. “Consumer demand will suffer due to the ongoing COVID-19 wave and subsequent lockdowns.”

Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi led the way, maintaining its number one position, even though its market share fell 5 percentage points from 31% in Q1 2020 to 26%. Yet the company, which had lost its pole position in the third quarter of 2020 following heightened anti-Chinese sentiment in the country, was comfortably ahead of Samsung – its closest rival. Simply put, Xiaomi saw volume growth of 4% in the quarter.

In the third quarter of last year, Xiaomi saw its share drop by 3 percentage points to 23%, which saw Samsung advance for the first time in 2 years to 24%. The advance, however, did not last. As anti-Chinese sentiment waned, Xiaomi again took the lead in the very next quarter with a 26% market share. Based on evidence from the first quarter of 2021, it looks like normal service from Chinese brands monopolizing the Indian smartphone landscape has resumed.

The South Korean consumer electronics giant nonetheless recorded the highest volume growth of 52% during the period, from 16% to 20%, leading Vivo. Samsung’s growth has been driven by its focus on the budget segment with the new M02 series and several 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 has tried to gain share offline.

“Chinese brands held 75% of the shares in the quarter ended in March. Xiaomi led the market with 26% of the shares, followed by Samsung, vivo, realme and OPPO,” said research analyst Shilpi Jain. Xiaomi recently expanded its manufacturing capabilities with new EMS partners, which helped the brand maintain strong shipments during the quarter. All major brands are focused 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 Galaxy S21 series during the quarter. ”

The multifunction phone segment also saw strong year-on-year growth of 14% thanks to major shipments of JioPhone under its new model and subsequent promotions. Like Xiaomi in smartphones, this segment is also led by a Chinese brand, which held a 21% market share.

Handset market share in India, Q1 2021 Source: Counterpoint Research

The overall mobile phone market in India grew by 19% in the quarter compared to last year.

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