India Handset Market Saw New Category Leaders in Both Feature Phone and Smartphone Segment in 2018

Xiaomi leads the India smartphone market, but Reliance Jio leads in both feature phones and the overall handset market

  • Overall India mobile phone shipments crossed 330 Million units for the first time ever with smartphones capturing almost 44% of the total volume in 2018
  • Feature phones grew faster than smartphones during the year for the first time ever, driven by Jio Phone.
  • The India market saw new category leaders in both feature phone and smartphone segments


   New Delhi, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Beijing, San Diego, Buenos Aires –

 Jan 25th, 2019

According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service, India’s overall mobile phone shipments grew 11% and smartphone shipments grew 10% with feature phones growing faster than smartphones (11%). India was also the fastest-growing smartphone market in 2018 with an annual growth rate of 10%.

Commenting on the findings, Karn Chauhan, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research said, “India is the second largest smartphone market in the world after China. It has just surpassed 430 million smartphone users. However, this accounts for just 45% of the potential total addressable market for smartphones; India is underpenetrated relative to many other markets. This was one the key reasons for its growth in 2018 where not only new users shifted towards smartphones but there was a healthy upgrade within price tiers, especially from entry-level smartphones to the mid-tier segment”

Commenting on the competitive landscape, Anshika Jain, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research said, “The competitive landscape has changed significantly in the last year. We saw key players gaining share while smaller brands exited the market as competition intensified. However, this doesn’t mean there is no room for new players. Realme, which started operations in Q2 2018, entered the top five brands in 4Q 2018, reaching more than 4 million users faster than any other brand. Going forward, we expect brands to consolidate their positions by driving multi-channel and aggressive product strategies in a bid to target users beyond Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities”

Exhibit 1: India Smartphone Market Share Full Year 2018 and Q4 2018

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor 2018

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor Q4 2018

Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, highlighting the still important feature phone segment, added, “This is the first time the feature phone market grew faster than the smartphone market. India remains the largest market in terms of global feature phone volume. India and Middle East are driving the feature phone market, capturing almost 3/4th of global feature phone sales in 2018. This highlights that while India is a fast-growing smartphone market, feature phones remain relevant for a large section of the population. Reliance Jio captured 38% of the feature phone segment in just over year with its compelling value proposition compared to normal 2G feature phones. Additionally, the Jio Monsoon Hungama offer focusing on upgrading 2G feature phone users, helped it to drive sales during the second half of 2018.”

Exhibit 2: India feature phone market share CY 2018 and Q4 2018

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor 2018

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor Q4 2018


Market Summary:

  • India’s overall mobile phone shipments grew 11% and smartphone shipments grew 10% with feature phones growing faster (11%) than smartphones during 2018
  • In terms of revenue, the market grew even faster with a growth rate of 19% during the year with Samsung, Xiaomi, vivo, OPPO and Apple being the market leaders by revenue.
  • Jio was the overall market leader across all handset types in 2018, with a market share of 21%.
  • Samsung has been holding the pole position by shipments in the smartphone market since 2012 when it dethroned Nokia. It was also the category leader in feature phones since 2015
  • Despite losing the number one spot, Samsung still managed to grow faster than the overall smartphone market. Its is now aggressively upgrading its portfolio in key price tiers to regain market share. The upcoming launch of India-first M series is a positive step.
  • Xiaomi recorded its highest ever shipments in India during 2018. Strong product portfolio and aggressive channel strategy helped it gain market share. Additionally, in 2018 it has expanded its offline reach with an increased focus on its Mi preferred partners.
  • Vivo’s performance during the year remained strong as it streamlined its channel with its flagship V series doing well compared to previous years.
  • Throughout the year the top five smartphone positions didn’t change much except in 4Q when Realme entered the top five smartphone brands surpassing OPPO.
  • Chinese brands registered their strongest ever annual performance in India capturing a record 60% smartphone market share up from 54% during 2017.
  • Tecno was the fastest growing smartphone brand in 2018 growing by 221% as it expanded its offline reach. Tecno (+221%), Honor (+183%), Infinix (+146%), Nokia HMD (+138%) and Asus (+76%) were the fastest growing smartphone brands during 2018.
  • OnePlus which grew 85% YoY was the fastest growing premium smartphone brand. The success of OnePlus drove overall premium smartphone shipments to a record number in a single year.
  • ₹20,000-₹30,000 ($295-$440) segment was the fastest growing segment (+53%) driven by vivo, OPPO and Samsung. Last year (₹10,000-₹15,000 or US$150-$230) was the fastest growing segment (+52%). This highlights the that the sales volume sweet spot is moving towards higher price tiers.
  • Online share of smartphone shipments reached a record 36% during the year driven by a strong performance of both Flipkart and Amazon.




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The Market Monitor research is based on sell-in (shipments) estimates based on vendor’s IR results, vendor polling triangulated with sell-through (sales), supply chain checks and secondary research.

Analyst Contacts:

Tarun Pathak
+91 9971213665

Karn Chauhan

+91 9816455600

Anshika Jain

+91 9873903650

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