India smartphone user Pabak Sarkar

The global smartphone market might be facing a slump but India continues to be a bright spot. A report published by Canalys last Thursday points out that smartphone shipments in India were up by ten percent and crossed a total of 137 million units.

With shipments topping 41 million units, Xiaomi was the clear winner as it garnered 30 percent of the Indian smartphone market. Interestingly, this makes India the largest market for the Chinese giant. 2018 saw the launch of new products in the Redmi series as well as an all-new Poco sub-brand that definitely helped with increasing market share.

Samsung is right on Xiaomi’s tail with a 26 percent market share, and Q1 is going to be particularly interesting. Samsung appears to be doubling down on the budget segment with their M series smartphones as well as a rumored A series packing AMOLED displays, which could help turn the tides in its favor.

The Indian government’s new e-commerce policy should also have an impact on online-only smartphone vendors as the FDI policy clamps down on online-sales and cashback related incentives.

Canalys

Despite a positive trend towards smartphone shipments, India lagged behind Indonesia and Russia in terms of growth rates. India also ranked behind China and the U.S. in terms of total smartphone shipments. Despite shipping over 350 million and 150 million units respectively, both the Chinese and U.S. markets are experiencing a slow down in sales as the markets get saturated and smartphone upgrade cycles slow down.

Editor's Pick

There are multiple factors contributing to India’s year on year growth in smartphone shipments. The biggest relates to the numerous people who still remain unconnected there: first-time smartphone buyers contribute a large percentage to the yearly shipments. Additionally, with over 50 percent of the population below the age of 25, aspirational needs and upward mobility contribute towards fast upgrade cycles.

As India becomes one of the most important markets for smartphone manufacturers, how much of an effect do you think this will have on hardware and design choices? Let us know in the comments section.