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Samsung challenging Xiaomi's India dominance thanks to better budget camera tech

Samsung is improving the camera experience on its budget phones, and it's reportedly paying dividends in India.

Published onJuly 20, 2018

The Samsung Galaxy J2 Pro.
The Galaxy J2 Pro is Samsung’s most popular device in India, according to Canalys. Samsung
  • Samsung has bounced back in the Indian market, almost matching Xiaomi’s shipments in the region.
  • The Korean brand has focused on camera features in its cheaper smartphones, according to research firm Canalys.
  • Xiaomi’s most popular smartphone reportedly saw more shipments than Samsung’s most popular handset.

Samsung and Xiaomi are far and away the most popular smartphone brands in India, but the Chinese brand pulled ahead in recent months. Now, a new report from research firm Canalys shows Samsung has virtually closed the gap, citing a renewed focus on low-cost devices.

The Korean firm has seen an annual growth rate of almost 50 percent in India, according to the tracking firm’s Q2 2018 report, hitting 30 percent market share as a result. The Chinese brand, meanwhile, has doubled its shipments compared to Q2 2017, also hitting 30% market share.

But Samsung’s results are even more impressive thanks to the gap between the two brands in the previous quarter. Back then, Canalys noted that Xiaomi held a 31 percent market share compared to Samsung’s 25 percent.

Samsung’s focus on budget cameras

The Samsung Galaxy J8.
The mid-range Samsung Galaxy J8 boasts several dual-camera tricks. Samsung

The Korean firm’s results are largely due to a renewed focus on low-cost devices, according to Canalys. Xiaomi has a reputation for delivering budget phones with plenty of features — so what has Samsung been doing to fight back?

“[Samsung] has launched devices pitted directly against Xiaomi’s portfolio and is focusing on its cameras and imaging capabilities with Portrait Dolly and Background blur Shape functions,” said Canalys analyst TuanAnh Nguyen.

Nevertheless, the research firm reckons Xiaomi’s most popular phone still has the edge over Samsung’s top-seller. Canalys estimates that the Xiaomi Redmi 5A shipped over 3.2 million units compared to the J2 Pro’s 2.3 million units.

The Xiaomi Redmi 5A.
The Xiaomi Redmi 5A.

Xiaomi and Samsung now account for a massive 60 percent of all smartphone shipments in India, compared to 43 percent in Q2 2017.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro (M1) review: A well-rounded budget smartphone

Despite this two-horse race of sorts, the analytics firm found that other brands are also able to find success. It cited Asus‘s switch from a traditional model to an online-first business model. The switch seems to be paying off, because the company’s shipments have almost tripled since Q1 2018, according to Canalys. This might be due to the new ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1, which has plenty of features for ~$170 in India.

The tracking firm cautions that sheer volume isn’t the only way to succeed in India. Apple has seen a 50 percent drop in shipment volume this quarter, but Canalys says the Cupertino company’s move to cut down on distributor partners will ensure better profit margins.

Do you think Samsung can become the undisputed number one again? Or will Xiaomi reign supreme in India? Let us know in the comments below!

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