China smartphone brands, including Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo, continue to lead India smartphone growth in 2021: report

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China smartphone brands, including Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo, continue to lead India smartphone growth in 2021: report

The smartphone market in India recorded record revenue and shipments last year despite ongoing supply constraints, with Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp leading the pack, according to a new report by research firm Counterpoint.

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Chinese brands accounted for four of the top five smartphone brands in India last year. Xiaomi had a 24 per cent share of total shipments in the country in 2021, followed by Samsung at 18 per cent, according to the report, which was released this week. China’s Vivo was the third-largest player with a 15 per cent share, followed by Chinese brands Realme and Oppo.

Xiaomi achieved 258 per cent growth in the premium smartphone segment, which comprises devices priced above 30,000 Indian rupees (US$400).

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India’s smartphone market revenue crossed US$38 billion in 2021 with 27 per cent year-over-year growth, according to the report. The high growth in India’s smartphone market was a result of “promotions and discounts, as well as better financing options”, according to Counterpoint.

The strong growth of Chinese phone makers in India comes despite rising tensions between the two countries in recent years. New Delhi has rolled out a multitude of measures to bolster the home-grown tech industry and there was also a consumer backlash against Chinese firms following several violent border disputes. But India remains heavily reliant on affordable and well-made consumer technology products supplied by China.

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OnePlus, a brand under Oppo, registered its highest ever shipments last year while Realme, an Oppo spin-off, became the fastest growing brand in the country. Compared with 2020, the market share of Xiaomi in India dropped 2 percentage points, but the share of Samsung, the South Korean giant, shrank by 3 percentage points, according to the report.

Xiaomi, which first launched mobile phones in India in 2014, started manufacturing phones locally in 2015. In February 2021, Xiaomi said that 99 per cent of its smartphones were already manufactured in India. Last month, Xiaomi said that it is actively working to localise manufacturing of wearables and hearables in India, according to Indian newspaper The Economic Times.

However, Chinese tech firms remain under scrutiny by Indian authorities. Last month, officials ordered the local unit of Xiaomi to pay 6.5 billion rupees (US$87.80 million) in import taxes after an investigation found that the company had evaded some duties.

India slapped a permanent ban on 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok and WeChat, last January. The apps were initially banned in June 2020 after India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology stated that they were “prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the defence of India, and security of the state and public order”.

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