India hits 1 billion mobile phone users

by: John DyeDecember 31, 2015
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smartphone user india Pabak Sarkar

The Indian phone market made a 0.7 percent increase from September to October, vaulting the nation over the 1 billion user threshold to 1.03 billion users. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India just released this information yesterday, making India the second country in the world to reach this milestone.

Anyone care to take a guess at what that first country was? Anyone? Anyone?

Sundar Pichai Google for IndiaSee also: Sundar Pichai talks new internet initiatives for India1

India’s population, which triples that of the United States, has created a ravenous market for the mobile phone industry. Whereas the US really only has four major carriers, a proportional twelve battle over subscribers and contract holders in India. This fierce competition combines with other factors to make India’s phone bills some of the least expensive in the world. It’s no surprise that phone manufacturers and service providers in every time zone are turning an interested eye to this phone-hungry nation.

India Smartphone Adoption


While the figures above apply to all mobile phones, India has seen major growth in smartphones as well. Although the US remains a major market for flagship and high-end devices, mid-range and entry-level manufacturers are having far more success in the continent of Asia. As for mobile phones in general, it’s interesting to note that India has had more phone users than the US since – are you ready for this? – 2008. In the ~8 years between then and now, US phone usage has increased only by about 100 million users. In the same time frame, India has seen a number of new mobile subscribers that surpasses the total population of the United States. Almost times two.

So for all you Westerners thinking your market is the center of the mobile world… You might want to reconsider your worldview.

What are your thoughts regarding India’s explosive growth in cellular phone adoption? Let us know in the comments below!

(Oh, and it was China, obviously. China hit a billion users all the way back in 2012. Didn’t want to leave you hanging.)

Next: Best cheap Android phones

  • Guaire

    Over 1 billion including feature phone users.

    • Karly Johnston

      Feature phones are dropping but they still outsell smartphones over 2:1. This is just sloppy reporting as usual like the claim Blackberry sold 700k Priv when it was total sales.

      • immmpppooosssiiblllleee

        If Feature Phone outsell smartphone by 2:1 in India, that means the total of cellular connectivity in India is about 3 billion user… which sound like impossible.

        • Kawshik Ahmed

          People uses multiple phone and SIM cards in South Asia mainly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
          If anyone buys a Smart Phone he also buys a feature phone for backup.

          • john doe

            Exactly, so if we speak in terms of unique subscribers the number is lower.

          • immmpppooosssiiblllleee

            I know. I live in SE-Asia. Where 2 or 3, even 4 number is normal.
            At max, I have 5 number, because the on-net call is very cheap.
            But now, I only have 3 numbers. BUT ONLY 2 phones.
            In the era of dual sim & triple sim, I think 1 billion smartphone + 2 billion featurephone is too much.

        • Karly Johnston

          1 billion people in India have cell phones, only 30% are smartphones.

          • immmpppooosssiiblllleee

            You were right…
            From the graph by bloomberg it say 1 BILLION phone user… NOT 1 billion smartphone user…
            AA really bad at reporting news.

    • Anantha Krishna

      the title says smartphones

      • Guaire

        Title is wrong. Graph and the source says over than 1 billion “mobile phone” users not smartphone users.

        • immmpppooosssiiblllleee

          AA is doing a click bait.
          The sad part is, this AA news post will be the basis of some 3rd country news post.

        • Anantha Krishna

          oops sorry didn’t notice that. PA also did the same thing

  • john doe

    This isnt a competition. Its about connecting to the world. Its obviously that China and India would hit a whooping 1 Billion smartphone users. Ever seen their population ?

  • saksham

    yeah its true .. i never see anyone with any other high end flagship except an iphone in india

  • sunny

    Guys, this is IMPOSSIBLE. Over 1 billion smartphone users? No chance!!! Absolutely none whatsoever!!! I would bet my life savings there’s not even 500 million mobile users.

  • ryq24

    If not for Affordable smart phones This would be hard to achieve as most people will still be using feature phones which are cheaper.

  • Ronald Dockery

    I think this growth has a lot to do with sudden drop in smart phone price and increase in quality with the lower end. I wonder how much Android One has impacted the growth.

  • Agent K

    This isn’t true. 1.03 billion total mobile users not smartphone.