India surpasses US, becomes second largest smartphone market globally 

CIndia has surpassed the US to become the second largest smartphone market in the world with India’s smartphone user base hitting 220 Million users as at end of 2015.

According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service, the smartphone shipments in India grew by 15 per cent annually in Q4 2015 (Oct-Dec). In 2015, Indian smartphone shipments grew 23 per cent YoY to cross 100 million units milestone.

Commenting on the findings, Pavel Naiya, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research, said: “The Indian smartphone demand grew strongly during the holiday season in the Q4 2015 quarter. However, the consumer demand waned since mid-November leading to smartphone shipments decline 11 per cent sequentially. However, LTE shipments grew sequentially, as more than one in two smartphone shipped was LTE capable”

The quarter also saw rollout of marquee LTE services by couple of network operators including the soft launch by the much awaited green field operator, Reliance Jio. With the declining ASP of LTE capable smartphones boosting the growing demand for the “future-proof” LTE capable phones, consumers and the industry have been waiting for the LTE services to go live. We estimate LTE services uptake from the growing Indian smartphone user base will be much faster than what the 3G uptake rate has been.”

Tarun Pathak, Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research said: “India has inched past USA to become the second largest smartphone market in terms of active unique smartphone user base in the world with the base crossing 220 million users. This speaks volume for the scale India market provides for any player in the mobile connected ecosystem. Though India still has a long way to go as the smartphone penetration of the total potential population is still below 30 per cent.

As a result, India continues to attract new smartphone brands every quarter adding to more than 150 smartphone brands selling their devices in the country. Furthermore, government driven initiatives such as Make in India and Digital India have gained serious momentum in 2015 to attract more players in the mobile value chain. Almost half of the total mobile phones shipped in India during the quarter were assembled in India driving the “Make In India” trend. We estimate this trend to scale even faster and broader in 2016.”

Market Summary for Q4 2015:

  • Smartphones: More than 40 per cent of the mobile phones shipped were smartphones
  • 4G LTE Smartphone: More than one in two smartphones shipped during the quarter were LTE smartphone
  • Make in India: Almost half of mobile phones sold during the quarter were “Made in India” with 20+ mobile phone brands now assembling their phones in India.
  • Domestic brands such as Intex and Lava have considerably closed in the gap with the second largest mobile phone or the number one domestic mobile phone brand Micromax
  • Almost one in three smartphones were sold through online channels during the year.

Exhibit 1: India Mobile Phone and Smartphone Shipments 4Q 2015



  • Samsung led the overall mobile phone market and the smartphone segment during the quarter with market shares of 23.6% and 28.6% respectively.
  • It also retained top slot for entire calendar year with a market share of 19.8% and 25.7% in overall mobile phone market and smartphone market respectively.
  • J series drove volumes for Korean giant as it ramped up the series by launching multiple SKUs in entry to mid-level segment.
  • Three out of top five smartphones during the quarter were from J series with J2 being the best-selling smartphone in India during the quarter.
  • It used its distribution prowess to gain much needed foot hold in sub $100-$200 segment where it is facing stiff competition from local and Chinese brands. However, it continues to lose market share in sub $100 price segment.
  • It also led the LTE smartphone segment during the quarter


  • Micromax maintained the second position in both overall mobile phone market and the smartphone segment with a market share of 13.7% and 14.3% respectively.
  • It also retained second position for entire calendar year with a market share of 13.5% and 16.1% in overall mobile phone market and smartphone market respectively.
  • However, it faced intense competition in $50-$100 price segment from other local brands which led to decline in shipments during the quarter.
  • It was the number three LTE player during the quarter
  • Micromax’s Cyanogen based online only brand ‘Yu’ launched its high end LTE model ‘Yutopia’ during the quarter and the brand has been growing steadily ever since its launch diversifying its portfolio from cheapest LTE to its costliest LTE phone ever.
  • Micromax Yu brand crossed 2 Million units in CY 2015 signifying growing user base as it plans to scale up Yu ecosystem deeply integrating O2O services such as “Around Yu”.



  • Intex cemented its third position in overall handset market during the quarter and for the entire year with a market share of 13% and 10.4% respectively.
  • It lost its number three spot in smartphone market to Lenovo during the quarter with a market share of 9.6%. However, it ended the year as third largest smartphone vendor with a market share of 10.4% driven by growth in entry level smartphones.
  • Demand for Intex products remains strong sub-$100 smartphone price band which is the key reason for its growth. However, the vendor needs to scale portfolio and drive volumes in mid smartphone segment to capture the growing number of upgrades.
  • Intex is an official sponsor for IPL cricket tournament’s newest team and will be thus looking forward to aggressively market its new line of LTE smartphones.



  • Lava (excluding Xolo) maintained the fourth spot in the overall handset market and 7% share in the smartphone market in Q4 2015 with healthy demand for Lava Iris and Flair series.
  • Lenovo including Motorola raced to third position in smartphone segment for the first time ever in India surpassing Intex with a market share of 11% during the quarter.
  • Lenovo was also the second largest LTE player during the quarter and for the entire year.
  • Meanwhile, Apple achieved a landmark of crossing 2 Million units in a calendar year, first time ever in India led by a strong fourth quarter.
  • Apple still commands a miniscule 2% volume share of smartphones, though making up in terms of revenue share to be the third largest brand during the year. This depicts the prowess of Apple’s brand equity and control over high-value & high-profit premium segment
  • Microsoft lost its place among top five brands in a quarter for the first time ever as Lumia shipments declined sequentially and annually.
  • Meanwhile, the other brands which grew significantly during the quarter were Oneplus, Coolpad and Meizu.
  • 2016 is going to be a highly competitive year as brands such as Huawei (with Honor), LeTV and Vivo expand with aggressive offerings to compete head-on with other Indian and Chinese players

Exhibit 2: India Mobile Phone and Smartphone Shipments CY 2015

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.

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