As the country awaits the launch of 5G services, expected next month, it is no surprise that there has been an uptick in demand for 5G-enabled smartphones. And, it is the affordable segment that is seeing the maximum launches as well as highest expected sales.
In the previous quarter (April-June), the 5G smartphone shipment share reached 29% of overall shipments, which was the highest ever, as per a Counterpoint Research report. Samsung led the 5G smartphone segment with a 25% share.
Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi, which continues to lead India’s smartphone market share, expects the coming festive season sales to be a catalyst in the growth of 5G in India. “With 5G services soon, the sentiment towards 5G-enabled smartphones is evidently positive,” said Anuj Sharma, chief marketing officer of Xiaomi India, adding, “We launched our ‘5G all-rounder’ Redmi 11 Prime 5G to officially commemorate the #DiwaliwithMi spirit earlier this month.” The 64GB variant of the phone is priced at Rs 13,999, while the 128GB variant is priced at Rs 15,999. Sharma “believes that the price segment of Rs 10-15K is a sweet spot for the 5G smartphone market at this point and can significantly drive the 5G revolution in India.”
Just like Xiaomi, Shenzhen-based Realme recently came up with Realme 9 5G with a starting price of Rs 14,999. Similarly, the Vivo T1 5G, launched in India earlier this year, carried a starting price of Rs 15,990.
OnePlus stood strong in 5G smartphone shipments in the previous quarter owing to its 100% 5G portfolio, according to Counterpoint Research. “We have been working towards gearing up for 5G since 2016 and invested nearly $30 million to scale up 5G R&D labs, showcasing our commitment to bringing 5G technology to more users worldwide,” a senior spokesperson at OnePlus said, adding, “As a result, OnePlus has been among the fastest in the industry to bring 5G devices to its community.”
Speaking on the recent launches, the OnePlus executive said, “with an aim to make 5G more accessible, we recently launched OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G and Nord 2T 5G phones.” While its Nord CE 2 5G starts at Rs
23,999, the Nord 2T 5G attracts a starting price of Rs 28,999.
Mukesh Ambani’s Jio is also collaborating with Google to launch a 5G phone, which will be ‘ultra affordable’, the businessman had said during the Reliance AGM last month. Although the company has not revealed the launch date of the phone, Jio will roll out its 5G services in select cities by Diwali, the RIL chairman had said.
Marketplaces, too, are expecting high demand for the category. Amazon is seeing a rise in demand for 5G-enabled smartphones with larger screen sizes and quality displays. “We have seen a growing demand across in the price segment of `15K-20K while the premium segment has already transitioned to the 5G technology,” said Nishant Sardana, director, Amazon India (smartphone & televisions), adding, “The growth in units last year was led by Rs 20K-30K and Rs 30-50K price segments which saw significant growth YoY, respectively. This was driven by the post-Covid requirement for high-performance smartphones for both work and gaming.”
Flipkart, too, is witnessing a similar rise as “5G phones are increasingly gaining popularity amongst consumers who are looking for faster internet speeds, enabling them to do quicker downloads, have a smoother gaming experience, video calling and HD movie watching experience,” said Kunal Gupta, senior director, mobiles, at Flipkart. “In the first half of this year, there has been a nearly two-time increase in searches for 5G smartphones on our platform as compared to the same period last year, with nearly 75% of the searches coming from tier- II and beyond cities,” he said, adding, “This demand is expected to grow further as we move closer to the festive season and the Big Billion Days.”
Speaking on the market segment, Gupta said sales trends indicate that “the demand for 5G smartphones in the Rs 10,000-15,000 range has seen nearly 4X growth in the first half of 2022 as against a similar period last year.”
The trend is crucial as it not only emerges close to the impending launch of 5G services, but during the festive season too, when the country witnesses a huge rise in sales. As per a recent report by Redseer, the e-commerce platforms’ festive sales are expected to touch $11.8 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV). “Mobiles and electronics category to remain broadly strong and key during the festive sales driven by better deals and new launches during the festive sales,” the report said.
OnePlus is optimistic that its entire 5G-enabled product portfolio will perform well during the festive season. “Moreover, we will also have lucrative offers across our product portfolio,” the company spokesperson said.
Xiaomi, too, is “optimistic about the upcoming festive season and preparations are in full swing to ensure utmost customer delight”. “Like every year, we plan to offer attractive schemes, discounts, scratch cards, coupons, cashback, exchange offers, and financing options across our product portfolio to encourage consumers to own a device of their choice,” said Anuj Sharma, chief marketing officer of Xiaomi India.
So with phone makers gaining big with 5G, are were staring at an end of 4G phones in India? The answer is no, according to Xiaomi’s Sharma. “While we continue to offer best-in-class 5G devices across all feasible price points, we cannot discount the fact that 4G will continue to coexist with 5G for some time to come,” he said. “We are expecting a complete rollout of 5G services across all touchpoints in the country by mid of 2023. That, coupled with the lowering of 5G chipset prices in India soon, will further boost 5G penetration. Till then, our focus will be on launching a mix of devices designed to cater to consumer requirements,” he added.