Smartphone shipments in India has reported a robust 23 percent growth in the first quarter of 2021, boosted by new product launches, promotions and financial schemes, as well as pent-up demand from the past year.

According to the latest Counterpoint Market Monitor report, India’s smartphone shipments reached over 38 million units in Q1—the highest ever first quarter shipment in the country.

Xiaomi leads India’s smartphone market

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi retained its number one position, although it suffered a 5 percent drop in market share from 31 percent in Q1 2020 to 26 percent in Q1 2021. Rival Samsung lagged in second place with 20 percent market share, followed by vivo (16 percent), Realme (11 percent), Oppo (11 percent), and others (16 percent).

“Xiaomi has recently expanded its manufacturing capabilities with new EMS partners, which helped the brand maintain strong shipments during the quarter. All the major brands are focusing on new product launches to drive consumer demand,” Counterpoint research analyst Shilpi Jain noted, adding, “Samsung maintained a high number of new product launches in its Galaxy M-series, Galaxy F-series as well as the Galaxy S21 series during the quarter. Besides, realme launched its 8 series, OnePlus announced its 9 series and Xiaomi launched its Redmi Note 10 series that has started well. Brands are also focusing on promotions and financial schemes to increase consumer demand.”

Smartphone use shoots up amid COVID-19

“Continuing with its stellar run, India’s smartphone market registered a third consecutive quarter of record shipments in Q1 2021, riding on pent-up demand. Consumer confidence also increased due to the beginning of a vaccination drive in the country. But these numbers should be taken with caution as a second and more virulent wave of COVID-19 is currently on in the country and is likely to impact the coming quarters. The consumer demand will take a hit due to the ongoing COVID-19 wave and subsequent lockdowns,” Counterpoint senior research analyst Prachir Singh said.

Consumers in India are spending more time on their mobile devices, especially in these times when people can’t go out to socialize with their friends or be with their loved ones—prompting them to turn to technology to talk to their family and friends and even play card games like teen patti on sites like Purewin.com recommended by SevenJackpots. In fact, an ENV Media research pointed out how “a booming smartphone market and much cheaper data packages” contributed to the growth of the mobile gaming industry in the country.

ENV Media’s Robin Hallengren said, “During Q1, 24% of sevenjackpots.com’s visitors used a Xiaomi phone, being the clear leader. iOS devices contributed to only 5% of the visits.”

A Vivo and Cyber Media Research study, meanwhile, saw a 75 percent increase in smartphone use for office work, while calls grew by 63 percent. Users in India also spend significant time on over-the-top (OTT) media services, as well as watching videos and on social media.

Nipun Marya, Director Brand Strategy at Vivo India, told Sunday Guardian: “Amidst the socially distant lives that the pandemic pushed us to lead, the smartphone emerged as the central nervous system for everything—be it working or learning from home or staying connected with friends and family.”