According to the latest research by Counterpoint’s Monthly India Smartphone Tracker, India’s smartphone shipments remained flat in the third quarter (Q3) of 2023 from July 2023 to September 2023, as Apple recorded its highest ever quarterly shipments during the period. After declining for almost a year, India’s smartphone market is showing signs of recovery with a gradual pick-up in consumer demand going into the all-important festive season.

Commenting on the findings, Shilpi Jain, senior research analyst, said, “In Q3 2023, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) focussed on launching new devices and kept filling in channels to prepare for the festive season ahead. We saw some interesting launches, with key features like 5G and higher RAM (8 GB) diffusing to affordable smartphones, roughly $120. The premium segment and 5G were the two focus areas and saw multiple launches. Many OEMs are now coming up with interesting financing schemes through partnerships with financial institutions and by marketing the per-day cost of buying a new device. The market is gradually moving towards growth and we are witnessing positive consumer sentiment during festive season sales. India’s smartphone market will experience growth in the coming quarter due to pent-up demand, elongated festive season and faster 5G upgrades.”

Meanwhile, Shubham Singh, research analyst, said, “Samsung maintained its leading position for the fourth consecutive quarter with a 17.2 per cent share driven by the success of its A and M series. Aggressive push in offline through better incentives and price parity across channels, focus on the fastest growing premium segment and innovation through the latest ultra-premium offerings are some of the strategies helping Samsung keep ahead of the competition. Samsung was closely followed by Xiaomi, with its 16.6 per cent market share driven by strong demand for the Redmi 12 series and offline expansion. Xiaomi is effectively capitalising on the opportunity to provide 5G technology in the budget segment. Its latest Redmi 12 5G series received an overwhelming response from consumers.”

He added, “vivo retained the third spot but was the fastest growing brand among the top five, experiencing 11 per cent year-over-year (YoY) growth. Strong offline presence, focused approach to colour, material, finish (CMF), and targeting the mid-premium segment through its sub-brand IQOO drove the demand for vivo. In the overall market, Transsion brands grew the fastest at 41 per cent YoY. Experiencing a high-growth phase in India, Apple recorded 34 per cent YoY growth. Q3 2023 also marked the best quarter for Apple’s shipments in the country, which crossed 2.5 million units. Premiumisation has started in the world’s second largest smartphone market and Apple has again got the timing right to benefit from this trend through its devices and financing offers. OnePlus was the top brand in the affordable premium segment, roughly $360-$540 with a 29 per cent share driven by strong sales of the OnePlus 11R.”

Other key insights include:

  • Faster 5G upgrades- In Q3 2023, the share of 5G smartphone shipments reached 53 per cent. The main growth driver was OEMs pushing multiple launches in the $120 – $180 segment. The 5G penetration reached 35 per cent in this segment, compared to 7 per cent in Q3 2022.
  • Ultra-premiumisation trend- The trend of ultra-premiumisation (more than $540) is steadily gaining momentum with each passing quarter. In Q3 2023, the segment grew 44 per cent YoY driven by the availability of easy financing options, implementation of various incentive programs in the market, and growing consumer aspirations for the latest technology.
  • Foldables going mainstream- We are observing an increasing demand for foldables in the ultra-premium segment due to their different form factor, which transforms the way we perceive and utilise smartphones. The future looks promising for them as more OEMs are entering the segment.
  • 4G feature phone growth- The share of 4G feature phones in the overall feature phone shipments increased to 32 per cent in Q3 2023 following the launch of the JioBharat platform. Low cost ($12), features like unified payments interface (UPI), and access to a wide variety of apps are the key factors driving this demand.

Other notable brands that grew YoY during Q3 2023 were Nokia (31 per cent), Motorola (27 per cent), realme (7 per cent) and Google (6 per cent).