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India’s smartphone market bounced back strongly in 2021

The smartphone market in India bounced back strongly in 2021. According to a report by research firm Canalys, Indian smartphone market registered 12 percent growth in 2021 compared to 2020. The reports states that smartphone manufacturers shipped 162 million devices in 2021 despite the chaos brought on of the pandemic.

“Following a strong comeback in Q3, smartphone vendors shipped 44.5 million devices in Q4 for 2 percent growth, despite a challenging supply chain,” the report states.

India recovered substantially in the second part of the year after a difficult start owing to the second wave of Covid-19, as per the report.

“Thanks to the vaccination rollout, market reopening and pent-up demand, smartphone shipments reached all-time highs for the full-year. Growth is expected to continue in 2022, driven by both replacement demand and new customers migrating to smartphones,” Sanyam Chaurasia, Analyst at Canalys said in a statement.

Chinese smartphone manufacturers occupied the top five places, with Xiaomi taking the lead. Samsung, a South Korean phone maker, came in second, with Vivo, another Chinese smartphone brand, coming in third and Realme, based in Shenzhen, arrived in fourth place. But, for the first time in India, managed to finish third in the fourth quarter.

Despite last year’s disastrous second wave of Covid-19, which saw lockdowns and supply chain delays across the country, hurting both smartphone demand and supply, India continues to expand. Chaurasia states that the vendors had to adjust to the uncertain time by diversifying their supply chains and extending their product mix. He also says that there are signs of the growth continuing this year too due to demand and more consumers switching to smartphones.

According to the report, Xiaomi and Samsung retained the top spot in shipments while Realme saw its largest growth in the last quarter of 2021. Realme had a growth of 25 percent for the whole year with 24.2 million units sold. In the fourth quarter of 2021 alone, it saw an annual growth of 49 percent while the other top brands had decreased sales. This increase earned Realme the fourth top spot in the market.

“Realme’s record shipment total was made possible by innovations in planning and stock management which led to good supply of mass-market smartphones such as Narzo 50A and C11,” said Chaurasia.

Xiaomi was the market leader in the shipments with 40.5 million units sold in 2021, occupying 25 percent of the market. In terms of growth there wasn’t much increase compared to 2020. Samsung grew 5 percent in 2021 with 30 million units shipped and it occupied 19 percent of the market, the second highest. Vivo was the third largest smartphone brand in terms of unit sold despite the company having a decreased market share of 15 percent in 2021 compared to 19 percent in 2020. The company sold 25.7 million units roughly in 2021. Oppo secured the fifth spot with 13 percent market share and 20.1 million units shipped.

Realme had a bright 2021. According to another report by Counterpoint Research, Realme was the fastest growing brand in third quarter of 2021. The company had a significant increase in sales not only in India but also in regions like China and Europe.

Sky Li, realme’s Founder and CEO, Realme, in a statement published in Business today said “Our goal is to help at least 100 million young people worldwide to enjoy the benefits brought by 5G technology with 5G-powered smartphones at the core. We will continue to bring more appealing 5G products to the market with leap forward performance and trendsetting designs. ”

In just the fourth quarter, India’s smartphone market expanded by 2 percent to 44.5 million shipments. According to the Canalys research, the units delivered in the quarter were lower than the 43.8 million units shipped in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The Canalys report also speculates that with low-end players gaining market in Q4, 2021, new phone brands may intensify the competition in the marketplace.

“JioPhone Next, which aims to upgrade feature-phone users via disruptive financing options, made a strong start with several million units sold. And on Amazon and Flipkart, Infinix and Tecno efficiently leveraged brand promotional campaigns. They also increased brand recognition on social media platforms,” said Chaurasia.

Canalys expects India to undergo a digital transformation this year.

“2022 will bring 5G spectrum auctions with new radio frequency ranges, and 5G will become significantly more accessible in terms of coverage and price. Smartphones capable of 5G will fall further in price amid fierce vendor rivalry, but shipments will be stifled in H1 2022 before the component shortage eases,” said Chaurasia.

He added that India will see upward momentum from this position towards better technologies,

“With smartphones being at the core of the digital ecosystem and growing ever-more essential to the daily lives of Indian citizens,” he said.

Related: India’s retail sector seeks a perfect balance between physical and virtual presence

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