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India’s smartphone market grew 12 per cent in 2021; Realme was big winner: Canalys

Realme was number three on the list with 7.6 million shipments and 49 per cent year-on-year growth, while most of the top players suffered a decline in the fourth quarter of 2021.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: January 24, 2022 2:21:32 pm
Realme GT NeoWhile India's smartphone market bounced back in 2021, Realme was the major winner. The Realme GT NEO is seen in this photo. (Express photo)

India’s smartphone market saw 12 per cent growth in 2021, reaching record 162 million shipments, according to research firm Canalys. The winner in the fourth quarter of 2021 was Realme, which climbed the number three spot in the overall list of smartphones vendors. It was also the only player which saw positive annual growth in the top five list, while the others all saw a decline.

Canalys’ data showed that India had a tough start to 2021 given the second wave of Covid-19. But the market recovered well in the second half and vendors shipped 44.5 million phones in the fourth quarter of the year. However, supply chain challenges continue to plague vendors.

While Xiaomi remained the market leader for the fourth quarter of 2021, its annual growth declined. Overall shipments for the brand stood at 9.3 million units in Q4, and it had a negative growth of 22 per cent. The brand shipped 12 million devices in the same quarter last year.

Samsung stood number two in the quarter with 8.5 million units, with 19 per cent overall share. Like Xiaomi, Samsung too saw negative annual growth, though the impact was less. It had shipped 9.2 million units in the same quarter in 2020 and the negative growth was 7 per cent.

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Indian smartphone shipments and annual growth
Canalys Smartphone Market Pulse: Q4 2021
Vendor Q4 2021 shipments (mn) Q4 2021
market share
Q4 2020
shipments (mn)
Q4 2020
market share
Xiaomi 9.3 21% 12 27% -22%
Samsung 8.5 19% 9.2 21% -7%
realme 7.6 17% 5.1 12% 49%
vivo 5.6 13% 7.7 18% -27%
OPPO 4.9 11% 6.1 14% -19%
Others 8.5 19% 3.8 9% 126%
Total 44.5 100% 43.8 100% 2%
Note: Xiaomi estimates include sub-brand POCO and OPPO includes OnePlus.
Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Source: Canalys Smartphone Analysis (sell-in shipments), January 2022

Realme was number three on the list with 7.6 million shipments and 49 per cent year-on-year growth. “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 Sanyam Chaurasia, Canalys Analyst.

Vivo and Oppo were number four and five respectively in the quarter, though both saw negative growth of 27 and 19 per cent respectively.

Overall for 2021, Xiaomi remained the market leader as well with 25 per cent market share, though its annual growth was pegged at zero. Samsung was number two with a modest 5 per cent growth. While vivo managed to stay number three in the overall list for 2021, its growth declined by 4 per cent.

Realme and Oppo were number four and five in the list. Realme was also the only player with double digit annual growth of 25 per cent for the overall numbers for 2021.

Canalys’ data also showed that new players are emerging in the low-end segment of the market. One major name was the JioPhone Next, which launched around Diwali in 2021. “For example, 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,” Chaurasia said.

In 2022, the research firm expects that the smartphone market will continue to grow in India, with demand being driven by replacement needs as well as new customers migrating to smartphones. 5G, which is the next-generation of mobile telecom networks, is also expected to play a more important role this year and is expected to drive growth for the smartphone market as well.

“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. Overall, India will see upward momentum towards future-proof technologies, with smartphones being at the core of the digital ecosystem and growing ever-more essential to the daily lives of Indian citizens,” the analyst said.

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