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OnePlus reclaims the throne in India's premium smartphone market

It still has fierce competition from Apple and Samsung, however.

Published onJuly 31, 2020

OnePlus 8 standing up screen
  • OnePlus has reclaimed the top spot in India’s premium smartphone market, according to estimates.
  • It still faces stiff competition from Apple and Samsung.
  • The OnePlus 8 is also India’s most popular high-end handset.

OnePlus has taken back the lead in India’s hotly contested premium smartphone market, according to an estimate — if only just.

Counterpoint Research has determined that OnePlus just edged past Samsung to claim the most market share for premium (over Rs 30,000 or $400) phones in the second quarter of 2020, snapping up 29% of the space versus just under 29% for Samsung. That’s less than a point difference, but it’s no mean feat when OnePlus is a relative newcomer and still considered a niche brand in most parts of the world.

Not surprisingly, the OnePlus 8 series played a large role in the comeback. The design and performance “attracted consumers’ attention,” Counterpoint said, while OnePlus’ ability to cultivate a loyal fan base also helped its chances.

See also: The best smartphones in India under 40,000 rupees

Apple sank to third in the country due to fiercer competition, the researchers said, although it dominated the “ultra-premium” (over Rs 45,000 or $600) segment with 42% share. It also had the most phones in the premium top five. While the OnePlus 8, vivo V19, and Samsung Galaxy A71 occupied the top three spots, the iPhone SE and iPhone 11 filled out the remaining spots. The iPhone 11 could gain share now that Apple is making the device locally and might lower the price.

Counterpoint stressed that these phones represented just a small sliver of India’s smartphone base. The devices only represented slightly over 4% of the country’s smartphone shipments — the vast majority of customers are buying budget devices. It’s no wonder that OnePlus is aiming at budget buyers with the Nord, then. While it may be happy to rule the premium phone space, it has been ignoring a massive potential audience until now.