According to a report by Canalys, the India smartphone market recorded 43 million shipments in the third quarter (Q3) of 2023, as the market moves toward gradual recovery. Although there was a 3 per cent year-on-year decline in shipments, the Q3 witnessed an improved consumer environment, allowing vendors to capitalise on newly introduced devices.

As per the report, Samsung maintained its top position in Q3 2023 with a market share of 18 per cent and a shipment of 7.9 million units. Xiaomi advanced to the second position, shipping 7.6 million units, primarily fueled by the release of its affordable 5G models. Vivo dropped to the third spot, shipping 7.2 million units, while realme and OPPO (excluding OnePlus) completed the top five by delivering 5.8 million and 4.4 million units, respectively.

Commenting on the report, Sanyam Chaurasia, senior analyst, Canalys, said, “In Q3 2023, smartphone brands strategically promoted their festive product lineup, with a strong emphasis around budget-friendly 5G options. Brands pushed their latest offerings, taking advantage of the fact that most vendors entered the quarter with improved inventory positions. The entry-level segment experienced a surge in demand as vendors introduced mass-market 5G models. For instance, Xiaomi expanded its 5G portfolio with the launch of budget-friendly models like the Redmi 12 5G and POCO M6 Pro 5G, contributing to the growth of 5G offerings in their lineup. Realme also gained traction in the market with its 11x 5G and 11 5G models, particularly through online channels. Motorola, Infinix and Tecno also drove limited volume through their new affordable 5G devices, as the market steadily transitions toward a dominant presence of 5G-enabled smartphones. On the other hand, the premium segment continued to experience robust growth. It was driven by Samsung’s S23 series and older-generation Apple iPhones, such as the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13, being offered at attractive deals during the festive sales. The market also witnessed the re-entry of HONOR via a strategic joint venture route with HTech and launched its HONOR 90 model.”

He further noted, “While the top five brands witnessed a year-on-year decline, the remaining players have been resilient and stabilised the overall market shipments. Brands such as OnePlus, Infinix, Tecno and Motorola witnessed strong growth mainly due to expanding channel presence, increased offerings and few carried positive momentum from the chip shortage period of 2021. Amid current challenges, it is tough for vendors to preserve market share, manage inventory and maintain profitability simultaneously. For instance, OPPO has shifted focus and is launching higher-priced models to prioritise profit margins over volume while Samsung has streamlined its portfolio across price bands. Brands need to continuously assess their market presence amid external macro headwinds, local operational hurdles, and volatile demand concerns. To thrive in the long term, the top brands should prioritise building strong distribution networks, increasing local manufacturing integration, and making positive contributions to the economy.”

“Despite the market gaining consumer confidence in the second half, the road to recovery will be challenged by global economic concerns. The growth in 2024 hinges on uncertain macroeconomic factors, particularly affecting the vulnerable entry-level segment. However, the Indian economy remains relatively resilient to sudden shocks from these variables and brands are adapting to market dynamics. To maintain market share, vendors should prioritise reducing channel pressures and building a lean product portfolio. They should have ‘hero models’ in each price segment while maintaining balanced inventories across channels,” added Chaurasia.