Interestingly, feature phones shipment grew at a faster pace than smartphones at 11 per cent to more than 185 million units in 2018.
Xiaomi led the smartphone market in India in 2018 with 28 per cent share, followed by Samsung (24 per cent), Vivo (10 per cent), Oppo (8 per cent) and Micromax (5 per cent).
For the December 2018 quarter too, Xiaomi led the pack with 27 per cent share, followed by Samsung (22 per cent), Vivo (9 per cent), Realme (8 per cent) and Oppo (7 per cent).
"India is the second largest smartphone market in the world after China. It has just surpassed 430 million smartphone users. However, this accounts for just 45 per cent of the potential total addressable market for smartphones; India is underpenetrated relative to many other markets," Counterpoint Research Analyst Karn Chauhan said.
This was one the key reasons for its growth in 2018 where not only new users shifted towards smartphones but there was a healthy upgrade within price tiers, especially from entry-level smartphones to the mid-tier segment, he added.
In terms of revenue, the market grew at 19 per cent during the year with Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Apple being the market leaders by revenue.
OnePlus -- which grew 58 per cent year-on-year -- was the fastest growing premium smartphone brand.
Also, the Rs 20,000-30,000 (USD 295-440) segment was the fastest growing segment (53 per cent growth) driven by Vivo, OPPO and Samsung. Compared to this, the Rs 10,000-15,000 (USD 150-230) was the fastest growing segment last year.
This highlights that the sales volume sweet spot is moving towards higher price tiers, the report said.
Online share of smartphone shipment reached a record 36 per cent during the year driven by a strong performance of both Flipkart and Amazon, it added.
Anshika Jain, a research analyst at Counterpoint Research, said the competitive landscape has changed significantly in the last year.
"We saw key players gaining share while smaller brands exited the market as competition intensified. However, this doesn't mean there is no room for new players," she added.
Jain said going forward, brands are expected to consolidate their positions by driving multi-channel and aggressive product strategies in a bid to target users beyond tier II and III cities.
Jio led the feature phone market - both in the fourth quarter as well as entire 2018 with 38 per cent market share. Others in the top five tally included Samsung, Lava, itel and HMD (Nokia).
"This is the first time the feature phone market grew faster than the smartphone market. India remains the largest market in terms of global feature phone volume," Counterpoint Research Associate Director Tarun Pathak said.
He added that India and the Middle East are driving the feature phone market, capturing almost three-fourth of the global feature phone sales in 2018.
"This highlights that while India is a fast-growing smartphone market, feature phones remain relevant for a large section of the population," he said.
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